An injured passenger has the right to be compensated for his or her medical bills and other damages.
But the legal process can be difficult and confusing, especially if you try to handle your case yourself. The insurance company adjuster and lawyer will not want to pay you what your claim is worth. Don’t fall for these insurance company tricks.
In the meantime, your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages will pile up. What should you do?
As a personal injury lawyer, I have handled countless injured passenger cases. Here are answers to questions that my clients have asked me over the past 41 years that should help you.
1. What should I do after the collision?
Help the driver investigate. Take pictures of the vehicles and road. Look for skid marks, surveillance and dash cameras. Talk to eyewitnesses and get their contact information.
Call 911. Speak to the police officers and make sure they know how the wreck happened. Insist that they write a police report, as it will be heavily relied upon by insurance companies (and a jury if the case goes to trial).
Go by ambulance to an emergency room if you are hurt. If you don’t go immediately, get examined and x-rayed within 48 hours. Then treat on a regular basis, take medications, rest, and recover from your injuries.
Hire a good personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They will walk you through ther process, take care of countless details, and begin building a successful foundation for your case.
They can assist you in finding the best medical professionals and help arrange payment.
For more information: Injured in a car accident in Fort Worth?
2. What damages can an injured passenger recover?
You are entitled to recover money for the following:
- medical expenses
- lost wages and benefits, including vacation, sick leave and paid time off you had to use
- physical pain and mental anguish
- disfigurement (scarring)
Often the passenger has his or her children in the back seat. You can also recover their medical bills and other damages they have suffered. For more info: What happens if my child is injured in a car accident?
3. Who is at fault?
The good news is that you are not responsible for causing the collision, so liability for the collision cannot be used against you. However an argument often arises between the drivers as to which one is at fault.
Determining liability is not always open-and-shut. For example, another vehicle may dart across your lane or turn left without a green arrow. However your driver may not have been looking down at their cell phone or speeding.
Texas uses a system called modified comparative negligence to allocate responsibility. In the above case, an insurance adjuster might divide fault 50/50 or 80/20. That is a big problem because the amount of money offered is reduced by that amount.
The injured passenger is often the key witness so your testimony is critical to this determination.
For more information: Proving liability in a Fort Worth car accident
4. What insurance policies can I file on?
An injured passenger may be able to pursue payment from one or more of the following sources of payment:
- Liability: every driver in Texas is required to carry a total of $30,000 to pay for the damages to any one person and $60,000 for all people injured. Sometimes the negligent driver has more than this amount. The problem is that the insurance company will not tell you this. An aggressive injury lawyer can often make the insurance representative divulge this information. We fight to get our clients the maximum compensation, so knowing the insurance limit is valuable.
- Personal injury protection: you can file on your own PIP policy as well as your driver’s PIP. The minimum amount available is $2,500 and some drivers carry more than that. We are happy to assist you with this process.
- Medical payment coverage: is similar to PIP, but it must be repaid at the time of settlement. We are often able to get the balance reduced.
- Health insurance: your company may pay some of your medical bills right away — but it often refuses. Helping to get your bills reduced and paid – and even eliminated – is one of the top reasons to hire a car wreck lawyer.
- Underinsured motorist coverage: Sometimes your damages are substantial and the other driver only has the $30,000 amount available to pay them. You can then pursue your own company for additional compensation.
- Short-term and long-term disability policies
Often the at-fault or partially at-fault driver is your spouse, family member, or a good friend. They may also have a PIP or MedPay policy. You will naturally be reluctant to file a claim with their company. But this must be weighed against other considerations.
5. How do my medical bills get paid?
Medical bills are very expensive — and are even higher in a motor vehicle crash when some providers increase them.
For example, the ambulance, hospital, emergency department, and radiologist (who reads x-rays and other tests) can charge $5,000 to $10,000 or more. Additional medical treatment often costs another $5,000 to $10,000 or more.
Paying these amounts can become an enormous problem.
You may not have health insurance. If you do, you may not have met your annual deductible. If you have met it, the co-pays and balances can be substantial. Or the hospital or doctors may be out-of-network or refuse to file on your health insurance. Or your company may refuse to pay your bills or demand reimbursement if it does.
For more information: Need help paying your medical bills?
6. What happens if the driver has no liability insurance?
Some people violate Texas law and do not purchase car insurance. At least you can file on your driver’s or your uninsured motorist coverage in addition to the options listed above.
The injured passenger can also file a lawsuit and take a judgment against the at-fault driver in small claims court, but this is often not a successful way to achieve payment.
7. How much money will I receive?
Your personal injury attorney will investigate the cause of the crash and obtain your file. This includes photographs, police report and file, medical and billing records, lost wage and employment information, and other proof of your damages.
This evidence will be presented in an extensive demand package to the insurance company at the appropriate time. Your lawyer will negotiate the best settlement or file a lawsuit, depending on the offer made.
Each car or truck crash is completely different, so it is impossible to know in advance exactly what will be paid. I consider 62 variables in my analysis of the case’s value.
For more information: How much is my case worth?
8. How can I maximize the amount I get?
In order to get the best results, you need to hire the best personal injury lawyer to assist you.
Berenson Injury Law has handled thousands of wrongful death, serious injury cases, and others.
Our team will guide you through the process and hold the responsible person and their insurance company accountable.
Contact us for a free consultation for an car accident claim
To speak with a member of our team, contact us at 885-801-8585 or click here. We look forward to helping you.