When you are a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in an auto accident in South Carolina, you can recover compensation from the insurance policy of the at-fault driver, even if the at-fault driver was the one in the vehicle that you were riding in. It can be especially frustrating to be a passenger in an auto accident, because there was probably absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent it, and you may feel powerless during and after the incident. The driver should certainly contact an auto accident attorney, though as a passenger, you have a right to do the same thing, and it is likely the best thing that you can do for yourself to ensure that you can recover fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Passengers Face Unique Risks in an Auto Accident
As a passenger in an auto accident, you’re going to face some unique risks. For example, you might not be sitting in the safest position. The driver is at risk for injuries associated with their seating position, such as whiplash, but the passengers are more likely to be sitting in positions that can create even more severe injuries. For example, you might be sitting with your legs crossed or your feet on the dash board. You might even be reclining in the front seat, or laying down in the back seat. Many who ride in the back seat don’t wear seatbelts, thinking that the back seat is fairly safe, and they find out the hard way that it is not. In some cases, passengers face serious injuries because they are resting their heads against the side window, they are holding objects in their laps, or they have fallen asleep in an awkward position.
How Passengers Can Take Action After An Auto Accident
If you are a passenger in an auto accident, and your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, attempt to gather as much evidence as you can. You’ll want to take note of the contact and insurance information of all involved drivers, collect the contact information of any witnesses, and take pictures of anything that might be relevant to proving liability and the value of damages. This could include the position of the vehicles, the conditions of the road, the property damage, the injuries, and anything else that could be important.
Don’t Discuss the Auto Accident With Anyone But Your Attorney
While you will likely have to provide a statement to the responding police officer at the scene of the accident, you should avoid discussing anything about the auto accident that might be subjective, such as who caused it and how, until you have a chance to talk to an attorney. You don’t have to comment on things that you aren’t sure about, and fault is something that will need an investigation to determine. You should also avoid discussing the auto accident with any car insurance company until you’ve had a chance to discuss it with a lawyer first.
Where Do Passengers Turn for Compensation for Injuries and Damages?
One benefit of being a passenger in an auto accident is that you can seek compensation from the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver, no matter who it is. While the driver can only recover compensation if he or she is less than 50% at fault for the incident, the passenger can recover compensation even if the driver of the vehicle they were in is entirely at fault or holds the majority of fault. In some cases, you may also have an insurance policy of your own that you can turn to. You’ll want to discuss the details of the incident with your auto accident attorney to establish who is at fault for the accident and which insurance policy you should file a claim with.
Avoid Making Mistakes After a South Carolina Auto Accident
Passengers in auto accidents are at just as much risk of making mistakes in the aftermath of that incident as the drivers are, so it is worth noting what the most common mistakes are and how you can avoid them. Making mistakes immediately after an auto accident can harm your claim and create even more problems than you started with.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Panicking or Expressing Anger
It can be difficult to control your emotions after an auto accident, especially if someone else’s behavior was egregiously negligent or if your injuries (or someone else’s injuries) are shockingly bad. You may be tempted to panic when you see blood and severe injuries. You might be tempted to confront the at-fault driver. This is where it helps to take a deep breath, close your eyes, count to ten, and proceed with a cool head. Don’t argue with anyone or make any accusations. Try not to panic when you see injuries. The calmer you stay, the less likely you are to make even more mistakes, such as saying the wrong thing or making injuries worse.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Declining Emergency Medical Assistance
In the aftermath of an auto accident, you might be in a state of shock. You might not realize how severe your injuries are or even that you are injured at all. If others have more obvious, more serious, and more visible injuries than you do, you might be inclined to worry more about them than yourself. This is all perfectly natural, and it is also why you need to contact 911 and let the emergency responders take you to the hospital if they think it’s the best thing to do. If they don’t take you in an ambulance, then you should still seek a full medical evaluation as soon as possible. There may be injuries that you aren’t aware of or that are worse than you think.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Accepting a Low Settlement Offer
Many people who are suffering from injuries after an auto accident are also facing tremendous medical expenses, their usual bills and living expenses, and lost wages from time off of work. This puts a lot of financial stress on you, and makes it very tempting to accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer. It may even seem like a lot of money at the time. Yet, it is very likely that the value of that settlement is not even close to what your medical expenses are going to end up being, much less enough to cover your lost wages and other damages.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Negotiating Without an Attorney
You don’t want to try to negotiate with the insurance company without the guidance and representation of a skilled South Carolina auto accident attorney. Insurance company claims adjusters will trying to settle your claim for the lowest amount possible – that is their job! Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might not need a lawyer, and the low settlement might be enough to address your damages, but it doesn’t hurt to seek a FREE consultation with an experienced attorney. Contact Bryan Ramey & Associates to learn more about the value of your claims and the options available to you for recovering compensation for your damages.