Personal Injury

Seven Things to Know When Dealing with an Auto Accident Claim as a Passenger

By September 30, 2020January 6th, 2021No Comments

A recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that around 31 million people are severely injured across the United States each year.  Typically, those individuals require extensive medical treatment to heal any injuries sustained in an accident.  In the United States, a vast portion of civil litigation is composed of personal injury lawsuits that attempt to impose liability on harmful actors in pursuit of damages for injured plaintiffs. Common personal injury cases include traffic accidents, construction mishaps, dog bites, product defects, and medical malpractice. While all of the above-mentioned case types are common, injuries resulting from traffic accidents are exceedingly frequent. While many legal experts discuss the opportunities available for injured drivers in personal injury cases, few sources detail the feasible options for passenger recovery.  Understanding the recovery opportunities available for passengers is imperative to be prepared for unexpected accidents in the future.  There are seven preemptive things that a passenger should be aware of before pursuing a personal injury claim:

1.      Ease of Recovery.  In almost every state, including Georgia, drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance, therefore guaranteeing some financial recovery to injured parties in the case of an auto accident. Surprisingly, a passenger who gets hurt in an automobile accident usually has an easier time recovering than most other personal injury claimants because the passenger typically does not have to prove liability or lack thereof.
2.      Knowing any involved terminology is imperative when filing a legal suit. When a passenger makes a claim under the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy, that passenger is filing a third-party car insurance claim. This third-party claim proceeds just like any other type of car accident claim, with opportunities for additional claims commonly available.
3.      Additional Opportunities. Unbeknownst to most parties, a passenger claimant/plaintiff usually has even more opportunities than a driver to recover damages incurred in automobile collisions. Since a passenger is rarely at fault for a collision, a passenger commonly has an opportunity to present suits against both drivers in a two-car collision, especially if both drivers were acting negligently at the time of the incident.
4.      Filing a Friendly Claim. Many passengers are unaware of recovery options available through the driver’s insurance policy in which the passenger was riding. The simplest way for recovery is through that driver’s Medical Payment policy. Since the Medical Payment Policy covers all passengers in an involved vehicle, they are usually the best option for injured passengers.  First-party benefits indicate that the friendly driver can file a claim, and regardless of who was mainly at fault for the incident, will receive a set amount of damages for any incurred medical expenses. This option grants passenger’s swift reimbursement for any costs and will not result in a negative impact on the passenger’s own rates.
5.      No-Fault and At-Fault States. If the accident occurred in a no-fault insurance state, an injured passenger is almost guaranteed recovery under the personal injury protection policy of the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was riding. Unfortunately, the passenger then likely has no other avenue of recovery against that driver unless the injuries sustained to meet the particular state’s requirements for exempting a claim from no-fault restrictions. In a fault-based state like Georgia, once the injured passenger reaches maximum medical improvement and is relatively healed, the claim is available for settlement or further litigation. Depending on the number of included defendants, a passenger can then make claims against all liable parties and settle with their insurance companies separately. In many cases, insurance companies choose to settle without much complaint, but there are complicated circumstances which could pose a challenge to settling.
6.      Multiple Passengers.  While passengers do usually have more routes for recovery, challenges can arise when there are multiple injured parties and recovery can be difficult.  Multiple claims against the same negligent driver makes recovery more challenging as they burden the driver’s insurance company and policy. If the total value of the injury cases combined exceeds the driver’s liability coverage, each injured person may have to settle with the negligent driver for less simply due to funding availability. If the injured passengers are unwilling to settle for a possibly lower amount than owed, each passenger may have to file a suit for litigation to settle the issue of fund divisibility. Ultimately, the more people involved, the less likely a plaintiff’s damages will be fully covered by the defendant’s insurance company.
7.      Always Retain a Personal Injury Attorney.  Legal disputes often lead to important judicial decisions, resulting in direct effects on all parties involved. As a result, any injured plaintiff should always retain a personal injury attorney to ensure maximum recovery.

Injuries sustained as a result of a car accident can cause confusion and fear for all parties involved. Injured passengers can face even greater challenges because they have so little control over the claims process. However, there are many legal options for injured passengers, including settlements and further litigation. Ultimately, while car accidents are often painful, the financial recovery process doesn’t have to be.

Contact our office today for your free consultation:  770.852.8885

Undocumented individuals involved in an auto accident should not be afraid of pursuing a claim for injuries and property damage.

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