Are Passengers Eligible for an Insurance Claim?
Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident as one of the drivers in the accident can be complicated and frustrating, however if you are a passenger in an auto accident, you may face even more complex issues. Imagine you are the passenger in a vehicle in which the driver is hit by another driver who has run a stop sign—or that you are the passenger in the vehicle which ran the stop sign. Either way, you could end up with injuries—from mild to severe—and may be unsure of how to proceed. There are several avenues you can take to receive compensation for your medical expenses and any related losses; to determine your best course of action it could be extremely helpful to consult an Arkansas personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Below you will find some helpful information regarding your options.
Filing a Claim
You have three options for filing a claim after your accident, two of which are considered third-party claims, since you are making a claim under an insurance policy which is not your own. In some instances, you could be forced to make multiple claims. Suppose the liability policy of Driver A does not provide sufficient coverage for your losses. You would then need to pursue a claim under the liability policy of Driver B for the remainder of your expenses (assuming both drivers bear some responsibility for the accident). The one you choose will be determined by the specifics of your accident. These options include:
- Filing a claim with the Other Driver—If the driver of the other vehicle is at fault—or both drivers share fault—you have the right to submit a claim for passenger injury through the other driver’s insurance. You could be required to prove fault to submit such a claim, which requires gathering evidence to back up your assertion.
- Filing a claim with the driver of the car you are in—In general, when you buckle up in a vehicle as the passenger, the driver of the vehicle has a responsibility for your safety. This means that the driver must follow all applicable safety rules and laws. If an accident occurs, and the driver of the vehicle did not properly follow laws and rules, then he or she may be at fault. You may be able to file an insurance claim with the driver’s insurance policy. There may also be a certain portion of coverage on the insurance policy designated to passenger injuries. Unfortunately, this coverage is typically limited, therefore might not cover all medical expenses associated with your injuries.
- Filing a direct claim with passenger’s insurance—Note that if the driver of the vehicle you were in is an immediate family member, you may be considered an insured individual on the insurance policy. Otherwise, you can use your own health insurance coverage to pay for your car accident injuries, or, if you have car insurance and your claim against the other driver’s policy is under review, you may be able to make a claim for your medical expenses under your own vehicle insurance—usually referred to as med pay. Since MedPay is not contingent on a determination of fault, your claim could be processed significantly faster than a third-party claim.
Multiple Passenger Accidents
Your course of action will be different if you were a passenger on a vehicle like a bus, train or van. These modes of transportation are considered public transportation, therefore fall under common carrier law. While public transportation injury law also hinges on negligence—just like a “regular” car accident—common carriers must provide a higher degree of care to their passengers than the average driver.
While the injured person must still show the public transportation company was negligent, the common carrier’s duty to act reasonably to take care of its passengers is greater than the average person’s duty to act reasonably. Another distinction in a public transportation claim is the procedure for bringing the claim. There are almost always time and notice deadlines in a public transportation claim, and the deadlines are typically extremely short for filing a claim—usually six months or less. Most public entities also have caps or limits for injury claims in place which may be quite low.
We’re There When You Need Us
Your course of action after being injured as a passenger will vary depending on the specifics of your accident, how fault is determined and whether you were in a car or on public transportation. Your level of injury will also play a part in how you will proceed with an insurance claim. Your best course of action is to consult an experienced Arkansas personal injury attorney who can answer all your questions and walk you through the legal process, always considering your rights and your future.
With five offices in Arkansas—Little Rock, Fayetteville, Conway, Bryant, and Hot Springs—our lawyers are here to help you weather the storm. Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and tell us your story.