It is a common misconception that injured passengers cannot take the lead on their own insurance claims. Whether you were injured while a passenger in a taxi or a private vehicle, you have a right to file a personal injury claim.
The reality is that most passengers have an easier case than the drivers. Passengers do not have to prove liability because at least one of the drivers will be held liable.
If the accident involved more than one car, your attorney, the insurance companies (and potentially the police and the courts) will establish who was at fault. The at-fault party’s insurance company will be responsible for compensating you.
Determination of Fault
If the fault is obvious, i.e., the driver hit a tree, it is generally understood that the driver did something wrong that amounts to negligence. However, there are many exceptions, all dependent on the unique circumstances of the accident.
For example, the driver could have been driving responsible when a cat darted into the road. That driver may not be deemed liable.
Complications arise when two or more drivers are involved in the accident. Arizona follows the doctrine of comparative fault. This means that drivers can be found at-fault for a percentage of the accident.
For example, two drivers may be found to be equally at fault. That means that their insurance companies will each be required to pay 50% of the damages.
It is common for insurance companies to disagree on how much their respective drivers were liable.
As a passenger, you cannot be held liable for the accident. However, if you knowingly get into a vehicle with an impaired driver, your insurance company could potentially deny or reduce your claim. It can be argued that you knowingly choose to assume the risk. There are ways to get around this argument as the better argument may be that you did not knowingly accept the risk that you would be injured and the impaired driver should be held accountable.
Steps to Take after the Accident
After an accident, drivers that are involved should get the contact information and insurance details of the other vehicles. You should request the accident report from the local police department that investigated the accident. The police report will provide the insurance information for the vehicles involved in the accident.
Make sure to take photographs of the vehicles, including a picture of the passenger side of the vehicle you were in. You should also take photos of the area surrounding the vehicles, the conditions of the road, and your injuries.
If applicable, also talk with any witnesses and obtain their contact information for you or your attorney to contact at a later date.
Most importantly, seek medical attention – even if you do not feel it is necessary. Many times, there is a delay in the onset of symptoms due to the adrenaline running after the accident. It is always best to allow a physician to make the determination on whether you are injured. Be sure to relate any symptoms, physical and emotional, that you are experiencing.
Filing a Claim as a Passenger
First, it is important to understand that, when you file a claim, you are actually filing against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and not the driver personally. Therefore, you should not be deterred from filing if the driver was a friend or colleague.
To cover medical bills, it is always best to use your own health insurance. You are paying an insurance premium for your health insurance and you should use this coverage as it will increase your net recovery when you settle with the adverse driver. You may also be able to file a claim against the medical coverage part of your auto insurance policy, if you purchased this coverage. When your claim is settled, the adverse driver’s insurance company will also pay any medical expenses that are related to the accident.
However, if your injuries were severe and you do not have enough coverage to cover the medical bills, your attorney can assist you to locate a quality physician you will treat you and wait for payment when your case settles.
An injured passenger’s claim follows the same path as a regular car accident claim. You can be compensated for medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, disfigurement/scarring, impaired earning capacity and pain and suffering.
Call Us Today
If you were injured as a passenger in an automobile accident, call the Yearin Law Office today. Our team can assist you with the confusing process of filing claims and negotiating with insurance companies. We will help you understand your legal rights and options and we will keep you informed throughout the entire legal process. Call Don Yearin at (480) 502-0708 today for a free consultation!