Car crashes are an unfortunately regular part of life. All it takes are a few seconds of inattention to cause a life-changing accident. Sorting out the consequences of an accident can take much longer.For example, when someone is injured in a car accident, driver or passenger, medical bills can quickly mount up. It’s likely that someone’s auto insurance will need to cover at least part of the costs. California is considered an at-fault state, which means that the person who caused an accident must cover the damages. That’s why it’s important to determine liability for a car accident – the liable party’s insurance will be the one covering medical bills for passengers and others.
When it comes to determining liability, drivers often have it simple: either they carry some fault, or they don’t. Passengers have more to consider. There are many more circumstances where passengers can get injured, and more ways to determine liability. The one benefit of being a passenger in an accident is that the passenger is very rarely ever at fault – someone else is liable in most cases.
How to Determine Liability as a Passenger in a Car Accident
When you’re injured as a passenger, the person who caused the car accident is liable. Since that is unlikely to be the passenger, at least one driver is usually responsible. However, the driver responsible could be the driver of another car, or the driver of the passenger’s vehicle.
After an accident, the insurance companies of everyone involved will work to determine who is at fault. This involves checking the police report, taking statements from everyone involved in the crash, and reviewing medical bills and records. If security cameras or dash camera footage is available, this can also be included. Eventually, they will come to an agreement on who was liable for the accident.
If you were injured, this is the person who will be responsible for damages you’ve suffered. The insurance companies will also use the provided evidence to determine what damages you are owed. Whether you agree with the insurance companies’ determination is another matter altogether.
The Importance of Negligence in a Car Accident Lawsuit
Because California is an at-fault state, negligence plays an important role in determining liability. Unlike no-fault states, in California, the driver’s insurance only has to pay for medical costs if that driver caused the accident in some way. Since car crashes very rarely happen on purpose, proving that someone was negligent is key to proving them liable.
Negligence is an important legal concept, especially in personal injury cases. In many situations, people owe others a duty to keep them safe. Driving is a great example of this: drivers owe everyone else on the road the duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. If a driver fails to do this, they have been negligent: they didn’t follow through on their duty. If this leads to a car accident and injuries, then the negligent driver is liable for the harm done.
California specifically acknowledges comparative negligence, as well. Few accidents are completely straightforward. In many car accidents, both drivers were at least partially negligent. If one driver was looking away from the road to change the radio and the other was speeding 30 mph over the limit, then they both technically were negligent. However, the speeding driver will likely be considered significantly more negligent. The liability may then be split 90/10, with the speeding driver bearing the majority of the responsibility.
As an injured passenger, negligence is key to defining who’s liable. Both the driver of your vehicle and other drivers on the road owe you a duty to act safely. Working with the insurance companies involved to show that one of the drivers was negligent will help them determine where liability will fall.
For many passengers, split liability cases can provide the most coverage for medical expenses. Instead of one insurance policy covering the bills, there are two. This makes it less likely that you will run into policy limits before having your bills covered.
When and How to Sue for Additional Damages
Insurance companies are motivated to minimize the damages they pay out. As a result, you may not always agree with their determination of liability if you’re injured as a passenger. Furthermore, if you were significantly injured, the insurance company might try to limit the portion of the medical bills they cover. If this is the case, you don’t have to sit down and take the insurance company’s determination. Instead, you can sue for additional damages.
Pressing for additional damages can be a complex process. It’s important to have your ducks in a row before you file to give yourself the best chance of success. When filing your claim, you’ll need to provide documentation to support your case. Specifically, you’ll need evidence showing why the insurance company’s original determination was too low. An experienced car accident attorney can help you pull together the documentation you need to confront the insurance company.
Depending on why the original damages were low, the evidence you need may be different. In some cases, the insurance company may declare some medical costs unnecessary. In others, they may determine that their client was not liable for the accident. In the first scenario, you will need to provide medical documentation and bills. In the second, you may need to start from the ground up with accident reports and photographs.
Injured in an Accident? Contact Anna Dubrovsky Law Group, Inc.
Getting injured in a car accident is always a stressful and traumatic experience. If you’re a passenger, this is even more true. As a passenger, you have no control over the situation, and you may even experience more severe injuries. You deserve to receive compensation for your injuries and medical bills, because you bear no fault at all for the event.
If you have been injured as a passenger in a car accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury lawyer in your area. An experienced attorney will be able to help you understand your options and rights after your accident. They can also help you work with the insurance companies to receive the compensation you’re owed. Contact us to start the process today.