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Auto Accident Lawyer
Car Accidents and Injuries
If you are injured as a passenger in a car accident, you have the right to pursue compensation. It is highly recommended that you talk to a qualified auto accident lawyer who can advise you about your particular case but the following is basic information from LaMarche Safranko Law PLLC to help people understand what to do if they are injured a car accident.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your personal injury case:
- Collect insurance policy information from all drivers involved
- Get any pictures or videos that were taken of the scene and the vehicles
- Take photos of your injuries
- Request a copy of the police accident report
- Keep a record of all medical treatment you receive as a result of the accident
- Document all lost wages and other out of pocket expenses that were caused from your injuries
But remember, the first and most important thing you can do is take care of your injuries. Contacting a personal injury lawyer who handles car accident cases for passengers can free you up from having to do much of these things and allow you to focus on your recovery. Usually an experienced personal injury attorney can obtain the items mentioned above.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE IF I AM A PASSENGER AND INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
The responsibility will be either the driver of the vehicle you are in, or the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the crash. The driver(s) found responsible for the accident will likely also be responsible for your injuries. There are some situations, such as being the passenger of someone you know to be under the influence, which may make receiving compensation more difficult.
However, as a passenger, you are typically not responsible for the accident. The driver of the vehicle you were in has an obligation to ensure the safety of their passengers and others on the road.
In every state, drivers are required to carry liability car insurance to cover harm to others, including passengers when they are at fault for damages.
How your injuries will be covered will depend on:
- Individual state laws
- Who was at fault
- What type of insurance the various drivers carry
SHOULD I TALK TO AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER WITHOUT A LAWYER?
It is usually not advisable that you speak to an insurance adjuster without first speaking to a personal injury lawyer. An insurance adjuster’s role is to investigate claims against their company and determine if the claims are legitimate. Insurance adjusters are not a neutral party, they are employees of the insurance company. Therefore, when it comes to questions about injuries or who was at fault, speaking to an insurance adjuster without an attorney can jeopardize your case.
IF I AM INJURED AS A PASSENGER IN A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER’S CAR, WILL A CLAIM AGAINST THEM HARM THEM PERSONALLY?
Typically, when you bring a claim for personal injuries, the claim is against the insurance company that insures your friend or family member. Thus, you may be able to receive compensation for economic loss or pain and suffering by making a claim against the driver’s insurance company, or the insurance company of any other involved and at fault vehicle. When you bring a claim against your friend or family member, the insurance company will pay for your injuries and damages so you are not taking your friend’s or family member’s personal assets and money. If your driver has Personal Injury Protection “PIP,” or Medical Payment “MedPay,” under their insurance, you can file a claim with their insurance to receive compensation, regardless of who is at fault. Again, this is money paid by the insurance, not your friend or family member personally.
DO I HAVE A CLAIM UNDER MY OWN POLICY?
If you have PIP or MedPay under your own insurance policy, you may be able to use this coverage to pay for your medical expenses.
About a dozen states follow a “no-fault” insurance system, where anyone injured in an accident must typically turn to their own automobile insurance coverage first. In no-fault states, an injured passenger is usually covered under the PIP coverage of the driver of the car in which the passenger was riding.
If a driver involved in the accident doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses, you may be able to file a claim under your own car insurance if you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage.
Additionally, if the driver(s) who caused your injuries have only limited coverage, you may be able to bring a claim under the Supplemental Uninsured Motorist (SUM) coverage through your own automobile insurance policy.
IF I AM INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT, SHOULD I GET MY MEDICAL RECORDS?
Yes. It is important that you gather as much information and documentation as you can regarding the accident, including your medical records. However, even if you are unable to get your records, your personal injury attorney can request a copy of your medical records after you sign a HIPAA authorization to release your records.
WHAT INFORMATION WILL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER NEED IF I AM INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT?
Some of the basic questions a personal injury lawyer will want to know include:
- The date, time and location of the incident that caused you injury
- How your injury occurred
- Names of any witnesses
- Whether photographs were taken
- If this is an automobile crash, the name of the other driver’s insurance company if you have it and the type of coverage you carry on your own vehicle
- The name of the potential defendant(s)
- Where you have sought medical care
- What injuries you have been diagnosed with
Also, in advance, it may be helpful to write down questions you want to ask the lawyer during your call.
IF I CALL A PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT, WILL I SPEAK TO A LAWYER RIGHT AWAY?
Who you speak to when you initially call a law firm regarding a personal injury matter will depend on the size of the law firm and how they structure their intake process. In many instances, you will first speak to a paralegal or intake coordinator who will take some of the basic information regarding your case. That person will likely open a file and provide all information to a personal injury lawyer who will then contact you for additional information.
During the call with the personal injury attorney, the lawyer will often ask more detailed questions about your case. Once the attorney has a good understanding of the facts, he or she may explain the law and educate you regarding the laws relevant to your potential case. In certain circumstances, the injury attorney may need more information such as medical records, photographs, witness statements or the accident report before a decision can be made about the strength of your case. In other cases, the attorney may be able to broadly explain how the laws work in your case. In many matters, the injury lawyer will schedule an appointment for you to meet personally and move forward with a lawsuit.
Passengers who are injured in motor vehicle crashes have unique rights. If you have been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney if you have questions about your particular case.