When you are a passenger in a car accident, whiplash is a real concern. You may be struggling with pain, limited movement, and mounting medical bills. As the passenger, you may be unsure who to call or turn to for help in covering your losses. Yet, there is help available to you. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, no matter who is at fault, you should have your own car accident attorney to represent you in this legal matter.
Who Is At Fault?
Passenger injuries are can be devastating or minor. They can involve a few days of missed work or months of rehab. However, who pays for these financial losses depends on the situation. In most cases, accident injuries are paid for by the person at fault, or his or her insurance company.
Who determines fault in an accident, then? Generally speaking, motor vehicle accidents require a police officer to visit the location at the time of the incident to file a report. If this does not happen, it’s possible to head to the police department to gather insight into filing a claim. The police department or investigators determine who is at fault based on the evidence in the case. This evidence includes any physical evidence from the location as well as witness statements, and your information.
Once fault is determined, it is then possible to file an insurance claim with that party’s insurance company. When this happens, it’s up to you, the victim, to detail all of the losses you’ve experienced as a result of the actions or inactions of the person at fault. In a simple situation, you submit the loss amount and the insurance company pays you that amount. However, that’s rarely how easy it is. And, unfortunately, it tends to be best for individuals to seek out the legal support and advice of an attorney when filing these injury claims as a result.
How to FIle a Claim Against the Driver’s Insurance
In situations where you are the passenger in the vehicle and that vehicle is at fault, you have a legal right to file a claim against the insurance policy of that driver. This type of claim is covered under the driver’s liability insurance policy, typically. It can handle losses such as your medical bills and pain and suffering.
What if the person driving the car is actually a relative of yours? Some insurance companies have specific details and limitations on family members filing claims like this. If this occurs, you may find it difficult to pursue coverage for your losses.
How to File a Claim Against the Other Driver
In other cases, the other driver (the one not in the car with you) could be at fault. When this occurs, you have the right to file a claim against that driver’s insurance policy. In a hit and run case, you may also be able to file a claim under your driver’s uninsured motorist insurance plan.
In other cases, the two drivers may share responsibility for the incident. In this case, you have the ability to file a request for compensation for your losses based on fault, often splitting the compensation paid to you based on the percentage of fault.
What Type of Compensation Is Owed to You?
One of the most common mistakes individuals make when they make a claim for compensation is about what is owed to them. That is, what amount should you request from the person responsible or their insurance policy? By law, you should be provided compensation for all of the losses you’ve suffered as a result of the car accident. This can be hard to determine. Every situation is unique.
You cannot rely on the insurance adjuster to help you determine this number. In most situations, they will take steps to reduce what they pay to based on just what you state. However, most cases involve a significantly larger amount of compensation. A law firm can help you determine what you are owed comprehensively. Some of the most common types of compensation after auto accidents includes:
- Medical claims from emergency room visits after the incident
- Any type of medical debt relating to the incident
- Long-term care and rehabilitation as needed
- Whiplash injury care such as from a chiropractor
- Lost time at work and any lost benefits for missing work
- Any other type of medical treatment you obtained related to the incident
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of function of a limb or other body part related to the incident
Understand the Risks of Whiplash
Even if you do not think you have an injury, it is always beneficial to see medical attention after an accident. It helps ensure that your needs are met. However, injuries can manifest in the days following the accident after the adrenaline wears off. In other cases, some injuries are not fully realized for several days.
A common example of this is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head moves back and forward rapidly, causing damage to the ligaments and muscles in this area. When this happens, it causes inflammation to develop. It can take a day or so for this inflammation to build. And, once it does, you may suffer debilitating pain.
Injuries like this can be hard to pinpoint in an emergency room. For this reason, you should never rush to settle a claim too quickly.
What to Do If You Don’t Think Your Claim Settlement Is Fair?
It’s not uncommon for auto insurance companies to try to reduce what they pay to you. They may require documentation of injuries and claims that can be hard to obtain. In other situations, they may try to negotiate a settlement with you for less than what you owe. You don’t need to settle.
Instead, it’s best to seek out legal advice from a personal injury attorney. This legal advice will help you determine:
- What your total compensation should be based on all of your loss
- What steps you need to take to recover those losses
- Whether or not you should pursue legal action to secure those funds if they are rejected
Since many attorneys off a win no fee scenario, where you do not pay for the attorney’s services unless they win compensation for you, there’s no reason not to reach out to these professionals for help and guidance in what steps to take. Don’t allow the insurance company to try to talk you out of compensation you know is owed to you for the incident.
If you are a passenger in a car accident with whiplash or other injuries, work with an attorney to file a claim for those losses.
Never Go It Alone – Hire a Car Accident Attorney to Help You
If you’ve been injured as a passenger, don’t settle with an insurance company until you work with a personal injury attorney. With the insight and support your attorney can provide to you, you’re likely to secure the best compensation for what you’re owed. As a passenger in a car accident whiplash is common. Let our attorneys at Petersen Johnson help you secure the compensation owed to you for any losses you have. Contact us now for a free confidential consultation.