Legal Options for Injured Passengers


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Thousands of travelers are injured in traffic accidents each year. Though the amount of injuries fluctuates from year to year, the problem is still an issue. Many passengers are harmed along with the driver, but in some instances only the passenger is the one with wounds.

Many of these issues are caused by negligence. When this is the case, the individual may be eligible for monetary compensation for injuries requiring treatment. Compensation may be for healthcare costs bills, the loss of income and pain and suffering. These payouts may come from the driver of the car the passenger rode in or other negligent drivers causing the accident.

Laws about the rights of passengers may be bewildering to many, but they are there to safeguard those harmed. To ensure fair compensation is obtained, a victim may need to contact a lawyer. Legal options and understanding what rights a passenger has for these issues may be explained via a legal representative.

Medical Issues

Many traffic accidents cause bruises, cuts and broken bones. In some cases other issues arise that cause long-term care or lengthy therapy. Loss of limb or life may be the ultimate cost of catastrophic accidents. For many such accidents, medical treatment is usually required. If the automotive accident caused neurological damage, constant management might become the only resolution. Because healthcare costs are extensive, compensation is usually a necessity to ensure payment for treatment and medication.

Analysis of Damage

In many cases for insurance and litigation, an examination of the damage and what caused the collision may be required. An insurance adjuster is assigned to the case to determine how the accident occurred and which party is responsible for it. A thorough investigation of the traffic conditions, weather, other vehicles, speed of collision and specific automobile factors are usually aspects of the inquiry. An adjuster may ask to review medical records or receive a recorded statement from the passenger. However, seeking legal representation before signing any documents or providing this statement is usually prudent.

What to Do If Injured

Treatment may be needed immediately, and documentation of all procedures should be recorded. Many injuries may take time to develop. Some require days or weeks to initialize, but many are observable in only hours from the point of collision. Even when symptoms are absent, it is best to be examined by a medical professional. All information from those involved in the accident should be obtained to include names and numbers of drivers involved. If the accident involved a company vehicle, the name of the company should also be recorded as the employer may bear legal liability. If any witnesses observed the accident, their contact information should also be recorded.

When possible, the passenger should take photos of the accident, the scene the collision took place at and the injuries he or she sustained. All receipts for medical procedures, medication and treatment should be retained.

Determining Liable Party

The passenger through his or her legal representative may be able to investigate the cause of the accident to determine which party or parties bear responsibility. One or multiple drivers may have acted in a negligent manner that caused the accident. If the vehicle had a defect, the automobile manufacturer may be liable. If the vehicle involved a company vehicle, the employer may be responsible for the accident. Once the reason for the accident is uncovered, a legal representative can initiate steps to seek compensation from those parties.

Insurance Claim

A personal injury lawyer can help file an insurance claim and handle communication with the insurance company. The lawyer may provide documentation of the victimís injuries to help substantiate the claim and may send a demand letter that states the amount of compensation that the victim believes will settle the claim. The insurance company and the lawyer may negotiate a settlement value that the victim agrees to accept. If the insurance company denies the claim or does not offer an amount of compensation acceptable to the victim, he or she may consider pursuing claims against other defendants or filing a lawsuit against the defendant.

Contact a Lawyer

Each state has a different set of laws and regulations that must be followed after an accident to preserve a case, and the legal representative should explain these to the passenger victim. Additionally, there is a statute of limitations that sets a time limit by which a lawsuit must be filed in order for the victim to recover. A lawyer can explain the victimís options and recommend a legal strategy based on the particular circumstances of the case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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