Car Accidents and Passenger Injuries

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Personal injuries are often an unfortunate and sometimes grave consequence of automobile accidents. They seem even more unfortunate when the persons injured in the crash are passengers that may be close friends. Passengers injured in a car accident are rarely at fault, and usually have grounds to file a claim against the driver who caused the accident.

Determining Liability

Once a car accident occurs, everyone will immediately begin trying to determine fault. This is especially true when a personal injury has occurred. Police officers at the scene will make the first judgments. In their accident scene reports they may or may not assign fault to one of the drivers based on their initial investigation. A police investigation includes observations at the scene such as skid marks, angle of the cars, and vehicle damage, as well as interviews with persons involved, including drivers, passengers and third party witnesses.

After emergency services have been called and notified about a personal injury car accident, the next call made by drivers involved in the wreck will be to their insurance company. Insurance carriers need to establish liability in a car accident to determine whether or not they will pay any claims made against them. They will begin their own investigation into the cause of the wreck, including gathering police reports, photos of the wrecked vehicles, and statements from all parties involved including third party witnesses to the wreck.

Injured Passenger Rights Once Fault is Determined

Passengers injured in a car accident should seek immediate medical treatment for their injuries, even if they do not seem serious at the time. This is not only medically sound advice, it is important to help the passenger receive fair compensation for his or her injuries once liability has been determined.

An injured passenger has the right to file a claim against an insurance company even before fault has been determined. The passenger can file either against the driver of the car he or she was riding in, or against the other driver. Once fault has been determined, the lawsuit can be withdrawn and refiled if needed, against the driver found at fault.

Contributing Factors That May Reduce an Injured Passengers Settlement

An injured passenger’s settlement may be reduced if certain contributing factors occur. For instance, if the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt or knowingly participated in the reckless behavior that caused the accident, it may be determined that he or she contributed to the severity of the injuries. In such cases, the passenger will likely receive a lower settlement.

A lower compensation may also be awarded if the passenger was not seen by a doctor soon after the accident. Statements from a physician who is knowledgeable in car accident injuries is important in determining a settlement. The longer an injured passenger waits to be seen, the more his or her settlement is likely to be reduced.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Passengers injured in automobile accidents should seek legal advice from a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer. Emotional and physical pain, strained friendships and the stress of dealing with insurance companies who are trying to settle a claim to their best advantage can be overwhelming to the injured party. Clear, impartial and expert advice from a personal injury lawyer can help guide the injured passenger through the settlement process, and ensure that he or she receives fair compensation for all accident-related injuries.

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