Car Accident Compensation For Drivers and Passengers
Last updated Friday, August 18th, 2023
If you were hurt in a car accident, you may be facing situations that you have never had to face before. Being involved in any sort of accident is something no one ever wants to experience. However, what happens if you weren’t the person driving? Now things feel more complicated that they should. If you were hurt in an accident you were not driving you are still covered by any and all insurance involved in the accident.
We hear all the time, “I was hurt in an accident as a passenger. Can I make a car accident claim?”
Yes, if you were hurt as a passenger in a car accident then you 100% need to make a claim to cover your medical bills and work toward an insurance settlement to help get you back on your feet.
If you are the victim of the accident, you could be dealing with a major change to your day-to-day life. You may have many doctor visits to contend with in the future. If you were seriously hurt, extensive doctoring may become a necessary part of your plans for the future.
Did you need life-saving measures and/or surgery? Did you need to be transported via an ambulance or helicopter to get life-saving care?
Although necessary (and thank goodness there are people that have the skills to help!), that life-saving heath care service doesn’t come cheap for anyone. Those clinic and hospital visits can add up fast.
These reasons and many others are exactly why accident compensation is important. You as the victim are entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, payment on medical services, and even lost wages from your recovery time.
Here are a few questions to ask if you find yourself the victim of an auto accident:
- If you were hurt in a car accident, do you know what rights you have?
- Do you wonder who should be responsible for paying for your healthcare?
- What if you were injured seriously and your injuries affect your way of life?
- Do your injuries compromise the way you make a living?
- If a loved one lost their life in the accident, how do you put monetary value on their life?
These questions are not unusual or uncommon in this situation. And honestly, they are very fair and real questions. If you (or someone in your vehicle) were hurt, you need to be able to heal. In the meantime, however, you still need to continue on with life. Unfortunately real life doesn’t give passes on bills and responsibilities.
Each situation is different, and, as personal injury attorneys, we understand that the details matter. This article was written to help you understand what types of legal recourse you may have if you choose to go down that road. We’re experts in accident compensation cases and we’ve won millions of dollars for our clients that have been hurt or had their lives altered by an accident that wasn’t their fault.
Passenger Injury Claims
As a passenger of a vehicle involved in a crash, you may think you don’t have rights, or your rights are limited. That is simply not the case. We represent victims’ rights. You don’t need to be the driver of the vehicle or the driver of the car that hit you… if you have suffered injuries from a motor vehicle accident that was out of your control because you were a passenger in a car, you have rights and may be eligible to file a passenger injury claim.
What exactly is a passenger injury claim? It is exactly as it sounds – a claim made by the passenger in a vehicle that was in an accident for injuries or lost wages. The claims are filed against the car insurance company of the policy holder at fault for the accident, either the car you were riding in or the other vehicle’s insurance.
As a passenger, there are several steps to take while still at the scene of the accident. Obviously this isn’t always possible, especially if you were injured.
If able, it’s a good idea to:
- First and foremost, call 911 to summon police and/or emergency vehicles to the scene. Not only is this required by Georgia state laws, most insurance companies require it as well. This is especially important if there appears to be any injuries. Even if you aren’t sure if there are injuries, unless you’re a trained medical provider, you can’t always tell. Medical professionals are able to spot injuries that untrained people may not notice.This is by far the fastest way to get help. The 911 officials are well-trained and will be able to help evaluate what services you need and dispatch the proper emergency providers right away.Another thing to keep in mind is that it is important to have a full report made by law enforcement immediately after the crash happened. This report will be used down the road to help support your case.
- If you are able, documenting the scene yourself could prove to be very helpful down the road as well. Try to take photos of different angles and include license plate numbers if possible.
- Be sure to get names, contact information, and insurance information from all parties involved, including people in the other vehicle.
- If there were any witnesses to the accident, getting their names and contact information could help clear up any discrepancies down the road as well.
Georgia is known as an “at-fault” state when it comes to car accidents. What that means is that the driver that caused the auto accident is legally financially liable for the other drivers and/or passengers injury or property damage. Or more precisely, the insurance company of the at-fault driver is.
By law, drivers in the state of Georgia are required to carry each of these minimum amounts of liability insurance:
- Minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury or death liability per person in a single accident,
- Minimum of $50,000 for bodily injury or death liability for all people injured in a single accident, and
- Minimum of $25,000 for property damage liability per accident
To be eligible for a passenger injury claim, you just need to be that injured party and be able to prove how the collision has hurt you. To begin the process, be sure to gather any evidence you can, get names of other people involved, and contact us for a free evaluation with no obligation.
How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Get?
In the case of an auto accident, there are certain types of damages and injuries that can be compensated for. Loss of property or damage to your property, current medical expenses that resulted from the wreck, and sometimes even future medical charges if you have suffered from a permanent or debilitating injury are a few examples.
Other settlement money from your personal injury suit could come from the loss of your normal income amount. This would apply if you had a hospital stay and needed recovery time and had to take time off of work or if you needed to take a medical leave.
Loss of income can get to be quite complicated, especially if you have a job that is paid by commissions or if you are self-employed. Luckily, there are loss calculators available to help determine a fair amount. Even though this type of income is harder to prove, it can often be calculated using previous income tax filings, documentation from your employer or clients, and other documentation such as work contracts, banking statements, or business invoices.
If you have to accept less wages due to your injuries because you are not able to work as many hours or had to take a lower paying job, that is also factored in and included in your loss of income amount. After an accident happens that is no fault of your own, you should be reasonably able to live at the same standard of living that you were before the accident.
Factors That Affect the Amount of Money You Receive
Since every car accident is unique, there are several factors that can affect the amount of money you can receive as a victim. Here are just a few of the most important factors that will be used to calculate the amount of your settlement.
- Who was at fault for causing the accident to happen?
- What type of liability car insurance does the faulty party have?
- What types of injuries did you receive and how severe were you injured?
- Did you seek medical treatment right after the accident happened?
- What types of evidence can you present about the accident?
- How closely does your statement and account of what happened match with the evidence presented?
- Did you say anything that would be damaging to your case to the other driver, passengers, law enforcement, etc. about the accident? Did you say it was your fault or that you had any blame in the accident or severity of the accident? Did you apologize to anyone? Did you tell anyone at the scene that you were just fine or good?
- Did you sustain any permanent injuries from the collision?
- How much has the accident changed your physical, emotional, or financial life?
- Did you hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your case? Because law firms have a reputation for not settling for a lowball settlement amount, it is often in your best interest to have them in your corner. Insurance companies have and will try to convince you that your pain and suffering is worth less than it really is to bully you into accepting less.
Average Payout for Passenger Injury Claims
What can you expect as a payout after being hurt in a car accident? The amount will greatly depend upon the individual details of your case, of course, and the severity of your injuries.
There is really no way to accurately estimate what you will receive without knowing those details. Your personal injury attorney, however, would be able to give you a much more accurate estimate, as they know the details of your case and have the experience from past cases to rely on.
A typical amount can range from a few thousand dollars up to $1 million dollars or more for the most severe injuries or death of a loved one. On average, victims have received around $8,000 to $25,000 dollars for an average settlement.
Passenger in Car Accident Settlement
There is a big difference between settling out of court and going through the court process. A personal injury settlement means that you and your lawyer have come to an agreement with the at-fault driver, their insurance company, and their attorney. Most personal injuries cases are settled outside of court. There are always pros and cons when considering a settlement for your case.
Some pros to settling your case out of court:
- It is typically a much faster process than going through with the entire court process
- It is less expensive to settle out of court
- You are guaranteed the amount of compensation that both sides agreed upon
- You maintain the control of the outcome of the case. It is not decided upon by someone else or a jury, and you avoid the risk of not receiving any settlement at all
And just as there are pros to settling out of court, there are also some cons and disadvantages in doing so:
- It is very common to receive a settlement offer that is not fair and doesn’t cover enough of your health expenses. This is especially true if you do not have a lawyer at least look over your offer
- The defendant isn’t required to plead guilty or even to admit fault. This means that they won’t be held accountable for their negligent behavior
- Once the offer is accepted by both parties and signed off on, the settlement amount is final. Even if you find more problems in the future from your injuries, you can never reopen the case. It is final
How to Negotiate a Settlement
During the settlement talks, each side has the opportunity to discuss what they feel is a fair amount of compensation for their injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering. Each side shares evidence and negotiates until they all agree.
There are a few different points to keep in your mind when negotiating a settlement. The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases. Their experience and negotiation skills will almost always get you a higher settlement award than you could do on your own.
It’s important to have an amount in mind before even starting the negotiations. This gives you a good starting point and makes it much easier to reject a low offer. Understand that the first offer most likely be very low, but don’t let that upset you.
Always remain calm and polite, but do not show weakness or submissiveness. You don’t want to appear as if you are confrontational or easy to manipulate. Be sure to share how the injury has affected your life and discuss any limitations it may have given you.
Have your documents and evidence with you and in order. Being prepared is imperative to negotiating the highest settlement award for your case.
Once both parties have agreed, a settlement is written up and signed by both parties. A settlement agreement is just as final and binding as a jury decision would be if the case had been taken to court.
Injured in a Car Accident as a Passenger
Accidents that happen on the road can range anywhere from very minor to the worst-case scenario, which is death. We all hope that there will be no injuries that cause permanent disabilities or changes to your lifestyle.
What are some of the most common injuries suffered by passengers in car accidents? Here is a short list, but these are not the only injuries that you may have suffered due to the accident:
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Brain and head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) which are considered very serious
- Broken bones, fractures, strains, sprains, etc.
- Spine and back injuries, which are also very serious and can lead to permanent paralysis or loss of sensation to parts of the body
- Chest injuries from colliding with the dashboard or seatbelts
- Soft tissue injury, which includes the muscles, skin, tendons, and/or ligaments
- Scrapes, cuts, injuries resulting from objects flying around the car, and penetration injuries caused from objects impaling into the skin or tissues
- Mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or emotional distress
After an accident, it is very important to promptly obtain proper medical treatment from a qualified physician. Not only does it ensure that your injuries are treated correctly, it also offers documentation from an unrelated party – the health care team. In almost all cases, these medical records are studied by both parties and used as evidence of the severity of your injuries. Without medical documentation, you cannot prove how extensive your injuries are, which is especially important if you have a long-term or permanent injury.
If you were a passenger involved in an accident, you have the same rights as a victim as the driver has. Your injuries and pain and suffering need to be addressed too and you absolutely can and should pursue damages.
The legal process of obtaining compensation for the injuries you suffered due to someone else’s negligent behavior should never overshadow the real problem that you are facing – your injuries. Injuries that are the direct result of a car wreck that you didn’t cause. There is no shame in bringing a personal injury suit against another party. You need to protect yourself both bodily and financially.
Even though you aren’t required to have legal representation to discuss a settlement, it is still strongly recommended to have an experienced lawyer in your corner so that the opposing side doesn’t try to pull a fast one on you. The initial settlement offer for a party without a lawyer is almost always going to be an unfair amount. The hope of the opposing party is that you will accept a much lower payout that what you are fairly entitled to.
Car accidents are complicated, and often are dragged out for years if the parties can’t agree on a settlement. A good lawyer can streamline the process for you and take some of the stress away from you. Your most important job at this point is to concentrate on healing from your injuries. Your lawyer can take on the difficulties of obtaining a fair settlement for you so that you can stay afloat financially.