Can I Get Compensation as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
Although driver-to-driver insurance claims are common in car accident cases, vehicle drivers are not the only ones collisions can injure. Car accidents often involve injured third parties as well, such as pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicle passengers. If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident in Richmond, Virginia, you have the right to obtain compensation for your losses. Learn what to expect from the claims process for the best possible results.
A Passenger’s Right to Compensation in Virginia
Virginia’s car accident insurance laws use a no-fault principle. Virginia is one of only 12 no-fault states in the country. Instead of being a true no-fault state, however, it has a variation that allows drivers to pay extra for no-fault insurance. The add-on rule can make the car accident insurance claims process confusing for those injured, including passengers. As someone simply riding in the car that crashed, however, you should not bear any liability for the collision. You should not have to pay for your own damages and losses. Liability will instead go to one or both vehicle drivers.
Determining liability after a car accident in Richmond often requires an investigation into who or what caused the crash using evidence such as police reports and accident reconstruction. Common causes for collisions include distracted driving, texting while driving, driving drunk, driving drowsy, speeding and red-light running. If the driver of the vehicle you were in or the other vehicle is guilty of an act of negligence that caused the crash, that driver will most likely be financially responsible for your damages. You can seek a settlement from the negligent driver’s car insurance provider.
After an accident in Virginia, write down the insurance information of the driver of the car and the driver of the other car. Call the police if one of the drivers does not do so first. Get medical care for your injuries before filing an insurance claim. If you think you know which driver caused the crash, file your claim with that party’s insurance company first. If you are unsure about fault, wait for the police or an insurance investigation to determine fault before you file. One or both drivers may owe you compensation.
Filing an Insurance Claim
If you have personal injury protection or medical pay insurance on your auto insurance policy, you may be able to file a first-party claim through Virginia’s add-on no-fault law. Your own insurance company could pay for your medical bills, although it will not include coverage for pain and suffering. If you later receive a settlement from an at-fault driver’s insurance company, the insurance company will typically subtract the amount you already received from your insurance provider from your total recovery.
Filing a claim with your provider can be the fastest way to receive payment for your medical bills. You have the right, however, to file a fault-based claim with one or both drivers’ insurance policies as well. While a third-party claim may take longer to resolve, you can typically receive greater compensation. The downside is that you or your attorney will need to prove the driver’s negligence or fault before you can receive a payout.
When to Speak to an Attorney
Recovering financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and other damages as a passenger in a car accident can be difficult. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may unfairly reject coverage or intentionally minimize your payout. The best way to handle your claim to damages may be with assistance from a car accident attorney in Richmond. A lawyer can explain your rights and help you go up against a defendant or insurance company in pursuit of fair recovery. It is especially important to hire a lawyer if the car accident gave you serious, life-changing personal injuries. Do not settle for less than you deserve. Discuss your recent accident with an attorney for help.