WHAT TO DO AS AN INJURED PASSENGER
June 26, 2022
Car accidents can be traumatic events for everyone involved—but all too often the focus seems to be on the drivers involved, and less on the passengers. If you’re wondering what to do if you were injured in a car accident as a passenger, know that you are covered by insurance. However, the claims process for the passenger can be more complicated than for drivers.
Have you been in an auto accident as a passenger? Enlist the help of a car accident attorney who will seek to ensure your expenses are covered. If you’re in Rock Hill, South Carolina or anywhere throughout Chester and Lancaster counties, reach out to us at Duncan and Nobles LLC to schedule a consultation.
Fault Determination in South Carolina
Every state has laws that handle fault determination in accidents. South Carolina follows a comparative negligence model. This essentially means that fault can be shared between parties in an accident. For example, if one driver was found to be 75% at fault for the accident and you held the remaining 25% of fault, you could seek payment for up to 75% of your expenses. So if the final payout was determined to be $10,000, you would only receive $7,500. However, if you were over half at fault (even 51%), you would be barred from seeking compensation from the other driver entirely.
This rule is important even if you were a passenger riding in one of the cars because it may help you determine what insurance carrier you’ll file a claim with.
Filing a Claim
As a passenger in a car accident, your injuries may be worse than the driver’s, depending on the nature of the crash. You’ll need to file a claim to help with recovering expenses related to the crash, but it can be hard to know where to turn. This can be made even more complicated if you need to file a claim against the driver of the car you were in and that person is a close friend or family member. But remember—drivers are required to carry insurance for a reason, and you have just as much a right to have your expenses covered as anyone else.
One option for filing a claim is to do so against the opposing driver. All drivers are required to carry coverage for both themselves and any passengers in the car, so you do have protections available. However, you will have to file your own claim independent of the driver. If the other driver was clearly at fault for the accident, this is likely your best option, but if fault was shared or if the other driver was underinsured or uninsured, you may have to pursue compensation elsewhere.
Another option is to file a claim with the driver of the car you were in. Again, you may feel conflicted about this since you presumably know this person and you don’t want to be responsible for their premiums going up, but what would be worse is if you were left paying your expenses on your own. The driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage will cover your injuries, up to policy limits. Additionally, if the other driver did not have adequate coverage, you may be able to get compensation through your driver’s uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage.
Lastly, you may be able to file a claim through your own auto insurance. This may seem counterintuitive since you weren’t the one driving and you weren’t in your own car, but your own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage may be able to cover you if you’re unable to cover your expenses by going through the at-fault driver’s provider.
Because there are so many options for passengers about how and when to file claims, it’s essential to contact a local personal injury attorney who can advise you on your best options. Because South Carolina follows a comparative fault model, this could mean that you have to file a claim with more than one provider to fully cover your medical bills resulting from the accident and any other costs such as lost wages or pain and suffering.
It’s also worth noting that, although rare, it is possible for a passenger to hold some of the fault for an accident occurring. In almost all cases, an investigation will only look to the drivers of the vehicle for fault or outside influences such as severe weather. However, if the passenger’s actions somehow contributed to the crash, they could hold some liability, which would limit the amount of compensation they could pursue. For example, if the passenger grabbed the wheel of the car or if they somehow interfered with the driver’s ability to see or operate the car, they may lose their ability to recover damages.
Legal Guidance You Can Trust
Recovering from a car accident is never easy. The last thing you want to think about during this time is filing claims against multiple providers. At Duncan and Nobles LLC in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we can help make this process a little bit easier and help you seek the care and compensation you deserve. Give us a call today.