If you've been injured in a car accident while riding as a passenger, you may not be sure what to do. You aren't the driver, but you can still file a claim to get reimbursement. Check out these five facts you should know if you've been the passenger in an auto accident.
The At-Fault Driver Is Responsible for Medical Bills
With most accidents, the insurance carrier of the driver who caused the accident is the one who pays for medical bills, damages, pain and suffering, etc. If you're the passenger in the car at the time of the accident, the situation does not change. The driver of the car you were in will file their own claim with the insurance carrier, but you don't assume that claim will include your injuries. You'll need to file your own claim through the at-fault driver's insurance carrier.
Both Drivers May Be At-Fault
Accidents aren't always cut and dry. While there are some cases where one driver is completely responsible, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes, the insurance carriers determine that both drivers are partially or equally responsible. This is why it's a good idea to file a claim with both insurance companies if you are the passenger. If both drivers are found to be responsible for the accident, you'll get payment from both carriers. For example, if both drivers are found to be half responsible for the accident, half of your settlement will come from one insurance carrier, and the other half will come from the other.
One Policy May Be too Low
Insurance policies have a limit on how much they will payout. If you have a policy that will cover $100,000 of medical bills, damages, etc., the insurance carrier will only pay out $100,000. If you're the passenger in an auto accident, this limit isn't waived, which can affect your settlement if you were badly injured or if the driver is underinsured. Luckily, however, since you were not driving and not responsible for the accident in anyway, you can get the rest of your money from the other insurance carrier. Keep in mind that both policies will only pay up to their limit, so if both policies have a max payout of $100,000, you'll only get $200,000 from insurance.
You Can Also Go Through Your Own Insurance
There is another option you can consider after an accident. You can file a claim with your own auto insurance company if you have medical payment coverage. The advantage of this is that you get money fast. You don't have to wait for the insurance carriers to decide who is at fault while you wait for your medical bills to be paid. On the downside, this insurance only covers your medical expenses, but you can still continue seeking a settlement from the insurance carriers, but the amount you received from your own insurance is taken from any future settlements. Lastly, the deductible that comes with medical payment coverage is high, so it may not be worth the hassle.
Being Related to the Driver May Affect Your Settlement
If you're riding with your friend, coworker or acquaintance during the accident, you shouldn't need to worry, but if you are driving with a family member who lives with you, your settlement may be affected. Basically, it just means you may not be able to file a liability claim under that insurance carrier. This is because an insured person is not legally allowed to file a liability claim under a policy on which they are covered, and typically family members who live with you are already covered, such as children or spouses.
If you've been the passenger in a car during an accident, you have a right to seek a settlement for your injuries. You should be able to file a claim with both insurance carriers. For more information regarding accident claims for auto accidents, contact an auto accident lawyer in your area today.