As every driver knows, auto accidents happen. And you probably have a pretty good idea of what to do after an accident when you’re one of the drivers involved.
But what if you’re a passenger in one of the vehicles? What happens if you are injured? What happens if the driver of the car you were riding in was at fault?
As a passenger in a wreck in North Carolina you have the right to file an insurance claim against the driver who was at fault. Even if the at fault driver is a family member or a friend. An experienced attorney can help you succeed on your claim against the insurance company and make sure they aren’t wrongfully denying compensation to you. Your injuries may result in medical bills, missed time from work and pain and suffering.
Your insurance claim can cover these damages, and an attorney knows how to help you avoid any insurance traps and succeed on your claims. As you can see from the information below, resolving a claim when you’re the passenger involves knowing how insurance law operates in North Carolina and knowing how adjusters resolve claims.
How to file an insurance claim if you are a passenger in an accident
The process of filing an insurance claim as a passenger in a wreck is the same as if you were one of the drivers. Your first step is to obtain the insurance information of all drivers involved in the collision. This includes the driver of the vehicle you were in. (This checklist can help.)
If it is clear at the time which driver was at fault in the accident, you will file a claim with that person’s insurance company. If it is unclear which driver is responsible for the accident, it is best to file a claim with each driver’s insurance company. If multiple drivers are found to be partially at fault, their respective insurance companies will argue over and ultimately have to determine who is responsible for your damages in proportion to their policyholder’s fault.
How multiple victims affects your compensation
When there are multiple people injured in a wreck, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will typically limit the amount of money that can be awarded. Per accident limits means each injured party will have to prove their damages in relation to the other parties damages and the carrier will have to determine how to split the available limits amongst everyone who was injured. (Learn more about how to read and understand an auto insurance policy here.)
For that reason, it’s possible the insurance payout you receive won’t sufficiently cover your losses or medical expenses because you will only receive a portion of the total amount available. In these cases, the guidance of an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer can help ensure that you receive your fair share of compensation for your injuries.
Your relationship to the driver of the vehicle matters
When you are a passenger of an at-fault driver involved in an accident, chances are you have some sort of relationship to the driver. They may be your parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, or someone else with whom you have a close relationship.
It might feel strange to make a claim against the insurance policy of someone you know and care for. But keep in mind that his or her policy is there to protect you when an accident happens. That policy may contain benefits meant for you, and you may be able to file a claim, even if you are listed on the insurance policy. You can learn more about those types of cases in this blog post I wrote.
Your actions may affect your chances of recovery
Your behavior leading up to the accident may affect your chances of recovery. For instance, if you were aware the driver of the vehicle you were a passenger of was intoxicated or otherwise impaired and chose to be a passenger regardless, you may have forfeited your right to compensation for your injuries. Further, if you engaged in any activity that contributed to the accident, such as grabbing the steering wheel or putting your hands over the driver’s eyes, it could affect your claim and your case.
An experienced auto accident attorney can help you sort through these challenges to ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled as an injured passenger. Please contact us to see how we can help.