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What to Do if You Are a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident in Georgia – JD Supra

  • Attorney Daniel Albert

The Brown Firm
Being a passenger injured in a car accident can be devastating. The road to recovery might look long and difficult, with significant medical bills to pay. On top of that, you may feel additional stress and anguish if the driver of the car is a loved one—who may have been at least partially responsible for what happened. 
Are you, as the injured passenger, entitled to any compensation or medical bill repayment? You have rights as a passenger, and it’s important to know what those rights are, and what steps to take to recover from an auto accident in Georgia.  
The most important priority after being injured in a car accident is to receive prompt medical attention. Make sure that if you, or anyone else, are injured, you immediately call medical services. 
No matter how minor you think your injuries are, getting treatment as soon as possible is very important. Even if you feel fine, you may have injuries that you are not aware of. Adrenaline and endorphins may mask the full extent of your pain and injuries following an accident. Some of the most common injuries associated with auto accidents, such as whiplash, may take days or weeks to show symptoms. 
It’s also important to get as much information as you can to document the nature of the accident. This includes things like: 
This information will help the insurance companies and attorneys figure out who is at fault, which will help you file an insurance claim. 
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As a passenger, it is extremely unlikely that you would ever be considered at fault for the accident. However, it may be difficult to figure out who is responsible if there are multiple drivers involved.  
If fault isn’t clear, there may be a long, drawn-out process to determine how the blame should be apportioned. Unfortunately, that may mean a longer wait to get the compensation you deserve, even if you did nothing wrong. 
For any accident, there is an investigation into determining which party should be held responsible. This investigation consists of police reports, witness statements, and statements from the involved parties. The insurance adjusters use this information to assign blame for the wreck, determine who is eligible for compensation, and how much each involved insurance company must pay to each victim. 
RELATED POST: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Recovery After a Car Accident 
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You, as the passenger, are not liable for the accident. Your personal injury claim will be the responsibility of the other driver’s insurance policy, or the car insurance policy of the driver you were with.  
Georgia is an at-fault state, which means the person responsible for the accident is responsible to pay for the damages. You can usually initiate a claim by going to the at fault driver’s insurance company’s website or calling them. Since you are not a driver involved in the crash, but a passenger and are filing under an insurance company that is not your own, this is called a third-party claim. 
Making a claim is a time-sensitive issue. In Georgia, there is a two-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit after a personal injury. However, you will want to get the ball rolling much sooner, as building a case takes time and evidence may be lost if not followed up on immediately after the accident. Speaking with a car accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash can help ensure you don’t miss any critical deadlines. 
Filing a claim may feel awkward if the person at fault is the person you were riding with. It’s important to remember that your friend or relative will not be the one paying for your medical bills, just their insurance company. This is the reason that they have car insurance coverage! 
You have a legal right to file a claim against the driver’s insurance policy as a passenger in a car with them. It may seem wrong, or uncomfortable, but you do not deserve to be responsible for the medical bills and treatment when you were injured in an accident that is their fault—not yours. 
If the investigation to determine responsibility is unclear about who is at fault, then your next step is to file against both driver’s insurance policies. If partial blame is given to both drivers, then each insurance policy will pay out a portion to cover your medical bills. 
Only file a claim with both insurance companies if it is not clear who is at fault. If there is clearly one driver at fault, filing two claims may slow the process down. 
If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy does not have enough coverage to pay your car accident injuries, or if the at-fault driver is uninsured, other insurance policies may cover passenger injury claims. 
Your own car insurance coverage may include underinsured or uninsured motorist (UI/UIM) policies. Most UI/UIM policies cover you as a person, regardless of whose vehicle you are in. 
You might also be covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay). Another option is your own health insurance.  
One important thing to know about car insurance companies is that they will try to pay out as little as possible. If you are entitled to damages, they will probably give you a low offer, expecting that you will not know what your case is worth. 
An experienced car accident attorney knows how to calculate all of your losses, such as lost wages, costs associated with pain and suffering, the ongoing cost of medical treatment, and more. They can protect you against unreasonable lowball settlement offers and negotiate for what you truly deserve. 
In addition, if it is not clear which insurance company should pay for your car accident injury, an expert car accident lawyer will know if your best approach is to seek compensation from a personal injury protection policy, medical payments coverage, or your own health insurance. 
An insurance claim like this can be complicated, and not all lawyers have experience with passenger injury claims. At The Brown Firm, we have a winning record for injured passenger claims. 
RELATED POST: Winning for an Injured Passenger with Compassion and Persistence: Jaclyn’s Story 
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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