There is usually no big difference between being in the driver’s seat and being a passenger in a car crash. If you sustain injuries as a passenger in a car accident, the driver at fault for the crash through their insurance will have to pay for any medical costs incurred, current and future loss of income, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Passengers can easily be ignored in personal injury claims following car crashes and it is important that you do the follow-up yourself, at least with the help of a Kent WA car accident lawyer. This article discusses the basic concepts every passenger involved in a car accident in Washington should know.
Third party passenger claims and lawsuits
Passenger personal injury claims are referred to as third party claims because the passenger is filing a claim against the insurance company of the driver at fault for the accident, who is a third party. Regardless of the driver at fault for the accident, you may have the right file a personal injury claim against any of them.
What about my personal insurance policy?
If you have a car with insurance coverage or the adult relative you live with has a car, the coverage of that car may cover you if you sustain injuries as a passenger in a car whose driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance. You can file a claim against your own insurance for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits if the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have adequate insurance respectively.
That said, you may not necessarily be able to recover damages through a first party claim. Here are a few situations that may render your claim invalid:
- You did not have permission to be in the car
- You own a car that doesn’t have insurance
- Your injury was partly the result of your own negligence, e.g. you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident
- You used the car of a relative or someone who lives in your household but own a licensed car that doesn’t have insurance
- You committed a crime at the time of the accident that caused your injury
What to do if you are injured as a passenger in a car accident
Before contacting a personal injury lawyer, jot down details of the vehicles involved in the accident, including their registration numbers and insurance information. Write down witness names and contact information and immediately seek medical attention.
If you are badly injured and have to stay in hospital for a few days, hire a lawyer and let them file a claim for you. Ensure all prescriptions and medical advice from your doctor are followed to the letter. Failure to do this may compromise your medical records and give the insurance a weakness on which they can base their denial. If your claim is rejected, you can file an appeal with a better elucidation of your statement before filing a lawsuit.