If you were a passenger in a car involved in a collision, you deserve compensation for your damages. However, the process of getting your compensation may be different from what you would need if you were the driver. Below are two critical things you should know before filing your claim.
1. Understand All the Options
The first step should be to evaluate and compare all the claim options available to you. First, you can file a claim against the driver who collided with the car in which you were a passenger. This option makes sense if the other driver's liability is almost certain. The driver will use their liability coverage to compensate for all your losses. However, you have to prove their liability.
The second option is to file a claim with the insurance of the driver of the car you were in. In this case, the driver needs to have personal insurance protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay). Alternatively, you can file a claim against the driver's bodily injury protection — it all depends on the insurance laws of the state.
The last option is to use your own PIP or MedPay. If you have any of this coverage, then it doesn't matter whether you were in your car or not at the time of the crash — your coverage will still help. However, using your own insurance coverage might increase your future insurance rates.
There is nothing to stop you from using all the options above. Using all options makes sense if you have extensive injuries (and damages) that one option cannot satisfy. Note that your compensation will be limited to your damages even if you use all three options.
2. Watch Out For Blame
Don't assume you will be blameless just because you were not driving at the time of the crash. Passengers can be blamed for some accidents. For example, the other victims of the accident may blame you if you interfered with the driver's control of the car. An example is if you grabbed the wheel or stomped on the brake during an emergency. Another example is if you distracted the driver and caused them to crash.
Your contribution to the crash, if proven, can reduce your compensation or deny you compensation completely. The decision will depend on the laws of your state (comparative or contributory negligence) plus your degree of contribution to the accident. Whatever the case, you need someone looking after your interests to ensure you are not incorrectly blamed for the crash. Reach out to an auto accident attorney for more information.