Passengers in Car Accidents
The money a passenger can recover after a car accident could vary significantly based on the injuries and losses that the passenger suffered.
Several factors go into how much you can receive in compensation, so you must talk with a car accident lawyer to find out exactly how much compensation you can get.
Can a Passenger Claim Compensation for Damages After a Car Accident?
A passenger can claim compensation for the damages they have suffered after a car accident. According to the law, you have the right to recover an “amount which will compensate for all the detriment proximately caused” by accident. In plain English, you can ask the at-fault party to pay you as compensation for any damage you suffered directly or indirectly because of the accident.
Your case may be even stronger than that of another driver involved in an accident since there is no chance you were involved in causing the crash. As a passenger, you are a completely innocent victim and should receive appropriate compensation to help you get back on your feet.
What Sort of Damages Can a Passenger Claim Compensation For?
When a car accident occurs, those who were involved often suffer serious damages. Now, the most common damage you think of is likely medical expenses due to physical injuries. However, medical expenses are far from the only kind of compensation you can recover.
You can recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses from emergency room visits, surgeries, procedures, ongoing therapy, medication costs, medical equipment (e.g., wheelchairs), etc
- Property damage expenses if any of your property was damaged or if someone was driving your car and thus damaged it.
- Loss of income from the days or weeks you took off work to recover from your initial injuries.
- Loss of earning capacity, which may result if your injuries prevent you from returning to the same job or same working capacity as that which you worked before
- Pain and suffering in general
- Scarring and disfigurement and the humiliation that may result from such injuries
- Emotional trauma and distress.
- Loss of consortium (relationships with your loved ones)
- Loss of life enjoyment, especially if your injuries prevent you from performing activities you used to love.
These are the main types of damages you can claim compensation for after an accident. However, you may find that there are other damages you can claim in your situation. You must realize that insurance companies responsible for paying compensation to car accident victims usually make very lowball offers initially. If you accept the first offer they make, you may not receive compensation for everything you are eligible to claim.
Talk to a car accident lawyer about your specific case so you don’t miss anything. A lawyer will ensure that you calculate all possible damages before you claim the at-fault party.
How Does a Passenger in a Car Accident Claim Compensation?
The process of claiming compensation as a car accident passenger is much the same as the process would be for a driver in a crash. You’ll have to take a few steps on your own, and your car accident lawyer will help you with the rest.
Here is how a typical case works.
- Call a car accident lawyer near you. The first step is to get in touch for a free consultation with a lawyer so that you can find out if your claim is worth pursuing and how long it will likely take.
- Meet with a lawyer. Once you’ve had that initial consultation to determine whether a claim is worth it, you’ll meet with the lawyer to discuss the details and sign a contract to begin working together.
- Collect evidence. After signing on to work with a lawyer, they will help you gather the evidence you need to fight your claim successfully. This evidence will include medical bills and records, receipts for repairs to your car or other damaged property, a police report from the accident, witness statements, etc.
- File a complaint. Once they have gathered enough evidence, your lawyer will send a complaint to the at-fault party and their insurance company. This complaint should detail the circumstances that led to the accident and how that accident harmed your life.
- Receive a response. Once they receive your complaint, the other party (i.e., the defendant) must respond by either denying your claim for compensation or making an initial settlement offer.
- Gather further evidence. Your lawyers will begin to seek out more evidence once they have a response. This evidence could include additional records and documents from the defendant’s lawyer or insurance company, interrogatories (written questionnaires) from all involved parties and witnesses, and depositions (verbal statements taken by the opposing lawyer) from all involved parties and witnesses.
- Negotiate for a settlement. You and the defendant will do your best to negotiate a settlement amount that satisfies both sides so that the claim doesn’t have to go to court.
- Go to court. If you can’t reach a settlement agreement with the defendant, your lawyer will file the claim in court for a judge and jury to decide.
- Receive a verdict. Once the lawyers have argued for your claim in court, the judge and jury will hand down a ruling which will include the compensation you deserve based on the circumstances of the claim.
- Take home your money. After the court has issued a verdict, you will receive a settlement check from the defendant’s insurance company. Your lawyer will help you pay off any outstanding debts, including your debt, to the lawyer for their services and will issue the rest of the settlement money to you so you can use it to get your life back on track.
As you can see, the process of settling after a car accident is a long one and can be pretty complicated. If you’re unsure how to get started but want to get moving as soon as possible, get in touch with a car accident lawyer.
You must speak with a lawyer as quickly as possible since the law only gives you two years to file a claim in court. That time can run out quickly when you consider the need to gather evidence and negotiate for a settlement.
What Steps Should a Passenger Take after a Car Accident?
As a passenger, you aren’t at fault for anything that happened in the car accident. You are an innocent victim who was wrongfully injured because of others’ careless actions or negligence.
Even so, there are a few steps you can take that will make it easier to recover the compensation you deserve and get your life back on track as quickly as possible.
- Receive medical treatment. This is the first and most crucial step to take after an accident. Get all the treatments you need, and don’t worry about the cost since you should be able to get compensation to help you pay for it. Seek out medical attention immediately and follow up as long as is necessary for you to feel better.
- Call a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers work with car accident victims to help them fight for compensation and get back on their feet. A good lawyer will help you negotiate for a settlement and can also support you while you’re recovering and need medical treatment, transportation, etc.
- Stay quiet. Don’t discuss the details of the accident with friends, family, or social media. Keep the details between you and your lawyer as much as possible. Never air out sensitive legal matters, as you may say something that the insurance company can twist against you.
- Keep documents. Whenever you receive medical treatment, keep the records and bills you receive. You want to also keep receipts for any other costs you had to pay because of the accident.
- Take lots of pictures. Take photos of your injuries, any noticeable property damage, the accident scene, and anything else that may prove relevant. You must have as much documentation as possible, especially if your case ends up in court.
- Start a journal. A journal detailing all that you’ve suffered physically and mentally can provide a massive bonus to your case when your lawyer needs to make a case for how much compensation you deserve. You will be able to get more compensation if you can prove how extensive your physical and emotional suffering was by keeping a detailed record.
If you can follow these steps, you’re well on building a strong claim for the compensation you deserve after a car accident. As with everything, it’s essential to chat with a lawyer to ensure you don’t forget any important steps that could improve your claim.
How Much Compensation Can a Passenger Receive after a Car Accident?
As already mentioned, the compensation you can expect will vary significantly based on how much you suffered. The top case in the United States in the last couple of years settled for over $375 million, but many cases settle for only a few thousand since the extent of the victim’s injuries was not very great.
After a car accident, the best thing you can do is discuss your case with a car accident lawyer. Lawyers have decades of expertise dealing with car accident claims and can help you figure out the exact amount your claim is worth based on your losses.
What Do Car Accident Lawyers Do?
As you can see from the scope of this article, car accident lawyers (also known as personal injury lawyers) do a lot to help victims of crashes. A good personal injury lawyer will see justice done after an accident that left you suffering because of someone else’s foolish actions.
A good car accident lawyer can:
- Help you find support to get the best medical treatment and other modes of transportation if your car was damaged and you can’t drive due to your injuries.
- Calculate the right amount of compensation that you could get in your claim.
- Negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company so you don’t get taken advantage of.
- Understand all legalities and file all paperwork at the right time so you don’t miss important deadlines.
- Gather the right evidence that will make your claim as strong as possible.
- Get you the highest settlement possible by not allowing you to settle for less just because that’s what the insurance company offers.
If you were a passenger in a car accident and want to pursue a claim for compensation because of your damages, don’t do it alone! Contact a personal injury/car accident lawyer in your area to get the help you need.