When car accidents happen, the at-fault party must be identified so that all injured parties can receive compensation for their injuries. In 2017, North Carolina saw over 81,000 car-related injuries and over 1,400 deaths. South Carolina was the third-worst state in the union behind Mississippi and Alabama for car crashes in 2016, with 20.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
But what if you’re a passenger in a car involved in an accident? What if you’re injured? What if it was the fault of the driver of the car you’re in? What if it’s the other driver’s fault? Do you have any rights?
The short answer is yes. Passengers injured in single-car or multi-car can be compensated for damages and expenses caused by that accident.
In fact, you have several options and avenues of compensation if you’ve been injured through the fault of another driver. And when that happens, you need a qualified Carolina car accident attorney like the ones at Auger & Auger. We have the knowledge and experience to help you receive the best possible compensation after the accident. Call us today at 855-969-5671 for a free, no-risk consultation, and we can potentially get started on your case as soon as possible.
What Are My Rights As a Passenger Involved in a Collision?
Both North and South Carolina require drivers to carry Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance to receive a vehicle registration.
However, unlike some states, neither North Carolina nor South Carolina offers “no-fault” Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Normally, these policies give you access to your own insurance coverage after an accident, even if you’re a passenger, in some instances.
Because passengers must seek insurance coverage from a liability policy after a car accident, they should know they have the following rights:
Right to Information from Drivers
Passengers have the right to request the names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information of all drivers involved in the accident. If either driver refuses to provide the information, the passenger can get it from the police officer working the scene of the accident.
Right to Receive Necessary Emergency Medical Assistance
Injured passengers have a right to reasonable assistance in emergency situations. This includes transportation to a hospital or a doctor for medical treatment. Passengers who don’t require emergency aid should still see a doctor and have a medical assessment. Even if you don’t feel pain immediately after the accident, you may still have injuries that don’t reveal themselves for a couple of days. The doctor’s visit provides you with the documentation needed to file a possible claim later.
Right to a Copy of the Accident Report
Passengers have a right to a copy of the official police report. Ask the attending officer when the report will be available and how you can obtain a copy.
Right to Refuse to Make a Statement to Insurers
Passengers have a right to refuse to speak to insurance agents representing either of the drivers. They are not required to give recorded statements. They are only required to share contact information and confirm the information on the police report. Before talking to anyone, but especially an insurance adjuster, you should consult with a personal car accident attorney.
Right to File a Claim with Any Appropriate Insurance Policies
Passengers injured in an automobile accident have the right to demand compensation for medical bills and other expenses caused by the accident from any at-fault drivers’ insurance company. Usually, if the driver of the car you were injured in has vehicle insurance that covers medical bills, that insurance will also cover passengers, regardless of fault.
While not required by either states’ laws, insurance companies often offer Medical Payments, or MedPay, coverage as part of their auto policies. MedPay can cover you for your own injuries, and it can also sometimes apply to passengers.
Right to File a Civil Complain (Lawsuit) Against All Liable Parties
If the insurance company representing the at-fault driver refuses to pay out fair compensation, the injured passenger has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This is where an experienced Carolina car accident lawyer comes in handy. You have the right to consult with a knowledgeable injury attorney to help understand your legal options and seek proper compensation for your injuries.
Which Driver Can I Seek Compensation From?
As a passenger in an accident, you usually have an easier time with a personal injury case because one driver or the other will also be trying to prove fault. One of the drivers will be assigned liability if it’s there, either by the police or one of the drivers’ insurance companies.
In a single-car accident, the driver of the car is liable for your expenses and injuries if they are found negligent. However, there are some exceptions. If a child darts out in front of the automobile and the accident results from the driver trying to avoid them, for example, the driver might not be considered negligent because someone exercising “ordinary care” may not have been able to avoid the collision.
In a multi-car accident, the driver that is held liable for the accident will most likely be the defendant in a personal injury claim. Your damages become part of their overall insurance policy payout. If there is more than one driver at fault, the cases can take longer to resolve if the insurance companies have trouble agreeing on how to settle the claim.
In some instances, fault (and financial responsibility) will be apportioned between the parties. This means that passengers may receive partial compensation from multiple sources.
Proving Negligence After an Accident
How is fault determined when you are hurt as a passenger? Usually, the part who is found negligent will be considered at-fault. To prove negligence as part of a personal injury claim, you must demonstrate the following:
- Duty — The driver(s) involved had a duty to make reasonable decisions while driving to avoid an accident.
- Breach of duty — One or more of these drivers failed to take the necessary steps to avoid an accident.
- Injury — Injuries sustained in the accident can be proven. This is why seeing a doctor is so important.
- Causation — The at-fault party caused the accident that caused your injuries. This is why seeing the doctor as soon as possible after the accident is so important.
Once these provings are established, you and your car accident lawyer in the Carolinas can file for a personal injury claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company.
What Sort of Damages Are Available for a Personal Injury Claim?
Much like if you were the driver injured in an automobile accident, you can receive damages for several accident-related expenses and other losses as a result of a successful personal injury case.
Common damages sought after a passenger is injured in a collision include:
- Lost wages
- Doctor fees and hospital costs
- Therapy bills and the cost of medical devices
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress
- A settlement for future lost wages, if your injuries were severe enough to cause disability, or partial future lost wage if you can no longer do your former job due to injuries.
See Your Doctor, Then Call a Carolina Car Accident Lawyer at Auger & Auger
As a passenger with another driver, you’re at the mercy of forces outside of your control and can be seriously injured through no fault of your own. Regardless, you’re still hurt, you still may deserve compensation from the at-fault party, and you need an experienced Carolina car accident attorney team to help you navigate the process.
Since 1994, the attorneys at Auger & Auger have concentrated exclusively on personal injury law and workers’ compensation, winning our clients upwards of $50,000,000 in damages. Call us today at 855-969-5671 for a no-risk consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner we can get to work on your case, and the sooner you might get the compensation you need.