You're riding in the car with your good friend. You're both jamming out to the latest Bruno Mars remix, and all of a sudden, you hear the tires screeching. Your head bounces forward, the airbags deploy and the rest of the events that follow seem like a complete blur.
Motor vehicle accidents are scary.
It takes a split second for an accident to occur. And as a passenger, it can often feel "wrong" to pursue damages. You were with your friend, accidents happen and it's not uncommon to feel like you're betraying your friend by taking any form of legal action.
1. Write Down the Events Leading to the Accident
Insurance companies will ask for your story. "What happened leading up to the accident?" And this question might be asked days later, or longer. It's hard enough for people to remember what they had for breakfast.
Trying to remember all of the important details leading up to an accident is difficult.
I recommend taking the time to write down your story to have a complete, thorough story to follow. It's important to have your story straight because one minor change from your original story will be used against you.
"Motor vehicle accidents including car accidents, motorcycle accidents and truck accidents are the most common type of personal injury claim. These claims are typically based on the theory of negligence," states Ankin Law Office LLC.
If you forget a small detail of an accident, this can lead to not being able to prove negligence.
2. File a Claim Against the Driver's Insurance
This is where a lot of passengers start to think twice about filing a claim. When it comes to insurance, there's a reason the driver pays: accidents. If the driver of the vehicle you were riding in was at-fault for the accident, you'll need to file a claim against his or her insurance policy.
Your friend's insurance will include liability, which will pay for:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
If the other driver is at-fault, you'll want to make a claim against his or her insurance. This is why you must call the police following an accident. A police report will provide you with all of the information you need to file a claim.
But there is one time when a claim may be difficult to file: the driver is related to you.
Insurance companies may not provide coverage in the event that the passenger is related to the driver.
3. File a Claim Against Your Own Insurance
Passengers that have their own car insurance may be able to file a claim against their own insurance. This is a less-obvious choice, but you may be able to file a claim on your own insurance if you have MedPay or PIP.
This may make your own rates go up, and there are obvious policy limits to consider.
PIP and MedPay are usually additional parts of a policy, so you'll need to add it to your policy. If you have health insurance, you can often use your own health insurance to cover your medical bills.
Always try to exhaust your auto benefits before using your health insurance to cover medical bills.
There's also the option of using your uninsured motorist insurance. Statistics show that 1-in-7 motorists in the United States are uninsured. If your friend or the opposing driver are uninsured, your policy's uninsured motorist insurance can help.