Finding yourself involved in an auto accident is always scary. Especially when you’re a passenger in the car, figuring out what to do in the aftermath may not always be obvious. If you sustained injuries in the accident, or stemming from it, then you may be due compensation. Depending on who was at fault in the accident, you may seek a settlement from one or multiple places.
First Thing’s First
The first thing you should do—in every personal injury case—is go to a hospital. Whether you go to the emergency room immediately following the accident, or a doctor in the next couple days, make sure you take care of your health. Even if you don’t have any noticeable injuries immediately, you should still go to the doctor. Oftentimes, injuries do not always present themselves immediately, but may show up weeks or even months down the line. Your health is the most important thing in the days following an accident, and you should always take care of this first and foremost. In addition, if you do end up filing a personal injury claim, you’ll need to have a diagnosis and documentation from a doctor of any injuries you sustained.
Are You Due Compensation For Your Injuries?
After you have taken care of yourself, you may want to seek compensation for any damages you incurred. There are two types of damages in personal injury cases—special damages and general damages. In short, special damages are easily quantifiable losses like medical bills, damage to personal property, or loss of wages. General damages—also known as pain and suffering—refer to things like emotional and mental trauma or loss of quality of life, among other things. For more info on understanding personal injury cases, check out our handy guide. Calculating your claim can be a complicated process. For example, showing proof of general damages is often more difficult than special damages. A New Orleans personal injury lawyer can assist you with determining how much money you are owed. Additionally, a New Orleans personal injury attorney can help you navigate the often difficult negotiation process with the insurance company. As the passenger in a car accident, you may find yourself having to deal not only with one insurance company, but multiple ones.
Who’s At Fault?
If you’re a passenger involved in a car accident, you may seek compensation for your damages from a variety or even multiple sources. It all depends who was determined to be at fault in the accident. Was it the driver of the vehicle you were riding in or the driver of the other vehicle? Perhaps there were even multiple vehicles involved in the accident. Louisiana, like most states, is a “fault state,” which means that all drivers are required by law to carry insurance. If an accident is shown to be the driver’s fault, their insurance company is responsible for any damages stemming therefrom. But how is fault determined? It may not come as much of a surprise to most readers that insurance companies are not exactly clambering hands over feet to hand out settlements. They may attempt in many cases to prove that their driver was not at fault. For this reason, it’s imperative to have a car accident lawyer on your side to construct your case. A preliminary piece of information is the police report from the scene of the accident. The officers will take testimonies from the individuals involved in the accident, and your attorney can help obtain a copy of this report. This report is an early building block of a process known as car accident reconstruction, whereby lawyers, engineers, and investigators create a detailed account of your accident. Using evidence and testimony, your car accident attorney will build a compelling case indicating how the accident occurred and who was at fault. In some cases, both drivers may be determined to be partially at fault. In this case, you may seek compensation from both insurance companies. However, the total amount of your combined settlement may not exceed the total value of the claim.
What About My Own Policy?
A couple questions we often hear from passengers involved in car accidents:
Does my car insurance cover me as a passenger in another car?
Are passengers covered by car insurance?
Some passengers may carry medical insurance in their own automotive policy that could cover some of their medical fees. However, these policies do not usually cover pain and suffering damages, or lost income. If you later receive a settlement from one of the drivers’ insurance companies, the payout from your own health insurance may be deducted from the total.
There are a few exceptions to be aware of in matters of personal injury settlements for passengers. If the driver of the car you were in is a relative, you may not be able to file a claim against their insurance company. This is because you may be considered an extension of the driver, since you are related, and one cannot file a claim against their own insurance company. If you, the passenger, are shown to be at fault or partially at fault in the accident, you likely will not be entitled to full compensation from the drivers. For example, if you grabbed hold of the wheel or were not wearing your seatbelt, you could be determined to be partially at fault for any injuries you incurred, as well as any injuries of the others involved in the accident.
Uber, Lyft, and Rideshare Services
With the advent of companies like Uber and Lyft, people are sharing rides more than ever before. One of the downsides to these types of services can be that you often don’t know what kind of driver you’ll have until you’re already on the road. The screening process for drivers with these services is often minimal. If you are involved in an accident while riding Uber or Lyft, determining fault becomes its own issue. You may file a claim against the driver’s insurance, or the insurance of the other person(s) involved in the accident—as discussed above. However, companies like Uber and Lyft also carry their own insurance policies to protect the drivers and/or passengers, depending on the situation. These types of claims are still relatively new, as are the services, so the specifics of the negotiations are still very much in flux. Make sure you have an experienced New Orleans rideshare accident attorney on your side, so that you can get the settlement you deserve for your injuries. For more info, check out our guide on Uber and Lyft accidents here.
Bloom Legal Are Your New Orleans Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Bloom Legal today. We will assess your case, and help you through the entire process of your claim and settlement. We will negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive the full compensation you are due. At Bloom Legal we pride ourselves in helping our clients. Don’t let one accident place an unnecessary burden on your life and wellbeing. Contact us today for a free consultation.