It’s something millions of people do every day – probably without a second thought – but in truth, you are risking your life every time you settle into the passenger seat in a motor vehicle. That’s because there’s always a chance that the person driving the car you’re in could do something to cause an accident, or you may get caught up in a crash caused by someone else. In other words, as a passenger you have no control over what happens while you are in the car. The good news, however, is that you do have certain rights as a passenger involved in a car crash.
Although applicable laws may vary, you generally have the right to:
- Obtain certain information, such as the names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, driver’s licence and insurance information of all drivers involved in the accident. If you have any trouble obtaining this material directly, you can get it from the police.
- Receive help getting to a doctor or hospital if you were hurt. Even if you aren’t in pain immediately after the accident, you should still see a doctor who can treat and document any injuries that aren’t readily apparent.
- Get a copy of the official accident report from the police. Ask the investigating law enforcement officer when the report will be ready and how to get your copy.
- Refuse requests for statements after the accident from another driver’s insurance company. If you do want to make a statement, be sure to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer first.
- Consult with a lawyer specialising in this area.
You are required to report the accident to the police within 28 calendar days after the accident unless a police officer attended the motor accident.
If you or a loved one were hurt in a car crash when someone else was driving, it is important to consult a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. Based on his or her experience, the lawyer can do an efficient assessment of the situation to determine if the injured party has a viable claim. If so, he or she can also determine who you should take action against, and what type of action is appropriate.
In some cases, this is an easy decision. Let’s say you sustained a nasty case of whiplash when the driver of the car you were riding in stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, causing the vehicle to jump a curb and hit a building at a high rate of speed. In these circumstances, you would simply file a claim against the driver’s insurance provider.
But what if you sustained the same injury as a passenger in an accident involving another car? Should you file a claim against the insurance provider for the driver of the car you were riding in, or the other driver’s insurance provider? In this scenario, the answer is: “it depends”. Technically, you can make claims against both. However, in a situation in which only one driver was clearly at fault, you would only make a claim against that person’s insurance company.
If both drivers are at fault, insurance companies and lawyers will assess the contributory negligence of each driver to determine how blame is allocated and how compensation should be awarded. Because insurance providers seldom agree on the key issues, this process can be lengthy and contentious. Even so, chances are that you will be duly compensated -eventually.
But what if the insurance provider for one, or both of the drivers don’t want to provide the compensation that you are entitled to, or don’t want to compensate you at all? In those circumstances, you can sue the driver(s) and/or their insurance provider(s).
Depending on your unique circumstances, you may be able to secure compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- home care;
- alterations made to your home that are necessitated by your injury/injuries;
- loss of past and future income due to your inability to work;
- loss of enjoyment of life (your inability to participate in activities that you enjoyed in the past).
If you were a passenger who was injured in a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed – especially if you can’t work and the bills are piling up. Even if you’re considering legal recourse, you may not know where to start. Or perhaps you just can’t cope with the thought of dealing with insurance companies or lawyers. With this in mind, it’s important that you have someone on your side who will help you get the compensation you deserve. At BPC Lawyers, we are here for you, so contact us today.