Every time you get into a car as a passenger, you are implicitly trusting the driver with your health and livelihood. You expect the person behind the wheel to remain vigilant, focused, and controlled. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you are a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident, especially if you sustain an injury, it is just as important that you know your legal rights as it is for the driver of the car.
The first step is to file a third-party insurance claim against the driver at fault, even if it is the driver of the car in which you were a passenger. A third-party claim is a claim against a car insurance policy other than your own. If you foresee you will file a third party claim after an accident, it is important to collect the driver’s insurance information and submit all bills and proof of expenses to the company with which you made a claim.
Often, the fault of an accident, especially if multiple vehicles are involved, is not black and white. The good news is the passenger of a vehicle is almost never liable. However, in an accident with unclear liability, especially if the driver sustained serious injury, a personal injury attorney can help de-mystify the process.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that the best way to prevent personal injury is to ensure all occupants of a vehicle wear a seat belt or child restraint. The use of a seat belt reduces the risk of the front-seat passenger suffering a fatal injury by 45 percent. In 2015, the NHTSA estimates that seat belts saved the lives of 13,941 people. In addition to wearing seat belts, travel in a car with front airbags whenever possible. If you are traveling with a child who is not big enough to safely use a seat belt, the use of child restraints reduces the risk of a fatal injury in an accident by 71 percent.
Who to Call
If you were a passenger in a car involved in an accident and you or a member of your family sustained an injury, it is important to seek legal counsel. The Southwest Florida attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice, and Purtz have over 50 years of legal experience in dealing with personal injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.