Automobile drivers aren’t the only people who suffer after a car accident – so do their passengers. Whether you were riding in the front passenger seat or rear of the vehicle at the time of a crash, you could sustain serious injuries and losses. However, the path to compensation might not be as clear as for the driver of the vehicle. The following Q & A is provided to answer some of the more common questions passengers have after being injured in a Los Angeles area car accident.
Q. What should I do if my friend is driving and we’re involved in an accident with another motorist?
A. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you should take the same steps we advise the drivers to take. In brief, these include the following:
- Calling 911 to report the accident. Ask for police and emergency medical assistance
- Using your smartphone to snap photos of the accident scene and your injuries
- Collecting the contact and insurance information for everyone involved in the accident
- Requesting contact information from any witnesses at the scene
- Not discussing accident details with anyone at the scene, especially when it comes to speculation on who was at fault or reasons the accident occurred
- Answering questions posed by the police regarding the facts of the accident (but see above re: avoiding speculation)
- Accepting any treatment offered by medical professionals at the scene, and later in the emergency room, hospital, and during follow-up visits
Q. Who should be held responsible for my injuries?
A. This depends on the facts of your specific accident. Typically, you would make any claims against the driver who is found to have caused the accident. However, if the driver was your parent, spouse, or someone else with whom you’re related, you might already be covered by their automobile insurance policy. In that case, you probably will not be allowed to file a claim against that policy.
Q. The person driving the car in which I was a passenger was found to be at-fault for the accident. Now what?
A. This is obviously an uncomfortable situation for all involved, especially if the driver is a friend or family member. However, you will likely be directed to make your claims against that driver if they were found to be 100 percent at-fault. Keep in mind that it is their automobile insurance that will pay out any compensation to which you are eligible and not the individual. Also, if there was another driver involved in the crash, and they are found partially responsible, you might have a case for pursuing at least partial compensation from them as well, under California’s comparative negligence law.
Q. I suffered injuries in a car crash that another driver was found guilty of causing. However, they didn’t have insurance. What can I do?
A. First, find out whether the person driving your car has Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. If so, you should make your claims against their policy. If not, and you have UM as part of your own automobile insurance policy, you will likely have to make any claims for compensation against it. In either case, if the insurers try to deny your claims – or if UM coverage isn’t a factor – contact an automobile accident lawyer for guidance on what to do next.
Speak to a Los Angeles auto accident attorney right away
Passengers who suffer injuries and losses due to a car accident deserve justice just as much as the drivers involved. Rather than struggling to sort through often complex issues following crash alone, contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer. Attorney Scott J. Corwin can guide you through how to deal with insurance coverage and other issues. For a complimentary initial consultation, please call (310) 683-2300.