Is it Possible to File a Claim With My Friend’s Insurer if I Was a Passenger in Their Car During an Accident?

If you have been involved in a car accident while riding in a friend’s car, it can be a stressful incident. You may need extensive medical care or miss work due to your injuries. The good news is that you may be able to file a claim with your friend’s auto insurance to recover some or all of your losses. However, it is crucial to understand Georgia’s complicated insurance and personal injury laws to ensure that you are proceeding with your claim in a way that will allow you to recover maximum damages. A skilled Atlanta car accident attorney can help you navigate this challenging legal situation and uphold your rights to compensation.

What Factors Could Impact Where You File a Claim For Your Damages as a Passenger?

Pursuing a car accident claim as a passenger can be surprisingly complex. Georgia is a fault-based insurance state, meaning claims need to be filed with the liable party’s insurer. The at-fault party may be the friend you were riding with, the other driver, or, if the crash involved multiple vehicles, a combination of individuals or entities. A police report may identify the at-fault driver. However, in many cases, it’s vital to enlist the assistance of a knowledgeable car accident attorney who can investigate the accident and ensure you properly pursue all available avenues of compensation.

What Compensation Could You Seek as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

Car accidents can be devastating physically, financially, and mentally. When you file a claim, the insurer will generally cover certain costs related to their driver’s negligent actions, including medical expenses, property repair or replacement, and lost wages. The amount of damages you can recover will depend heavily upon the coverage limits of the culpable driver’s insurance policy. If their coverage is insufficient to handle your expenses, you may need to explore other options for recovery with your legal advisor, including your own health and auto insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. If you file a lawsuit, you may be able to seek further compensation, including pain and suffering damages.

Can Your Role in the Accident as a Passenger Affect Your Ability to Recover Damages?

While it is rare for a passenger to share liability for an accident, it is not out of the realm of possibility. Significantly distracting the driver in some manner or unexpectedly grabbing the steering wheel are examples of situations that could lead to fault being assigned to the passenger.

Under O.C.G.A. 51-12-33, a Georgia plaintiff who shares responsibility for their accident will have their settlement award reduced in proportion to the percentage of liability assigned to them. Importantly, if an individual is 50% or more responsible for the accident, they are barred from seeking damages.

Due to these potentially serious ramifications, it can be essential for a passenger to have legal guidance prior to speaking to insurance adjusters to avoid making statements that could harm their claim. If the at-fault party in the accident, their insurer, or their lawyer has attempted to place responsibility for the crash on you, seek immediate legal representation to protect your settlement rights.

What Should You Do Following the Crash to Protect Your Rights to Compensation?

Car accident injuries can be costly and may have substantial short- or long-term effects on your ability to work or care for yourself. Retaining your right to pursue compensation following a crash can be crucial to safeguarding your future. While it can be difficult to think clearly in the aftermath of an accident, by staying calm and taking the following steps, you can help protect your legal rights:

  • Report the accident: Call 911 for emergency medical assistance if anyone is acutely injured. Local police should also be contacted to ensure a police report of the incident is created.
  • Collect documentation: If possible, take photos or video of the crash site and your injuries. Gather the contact information of any witnesses and obtain the insurance information from all drivers involved.
  • Get a medical evaluation: Getting promptly evaluated by a doctor is essential, even if you only appear to have minor injuries. Not only does this step protect against the potentially serious consequences of unnoticed internal injuries, it creates a clear record of the harm you sustained in the crash and connects it to that incident. This record provides vital support for any insurance claims you may make in the future.
  • Contact your insurer: It’s crucial to promptly inform your insurer of your accident, even if you don’t believe you will need to utilize your own insurance policy. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may need to file a claim with your insurer to make up for the shortfall in your recovery. However, your claim could be denied if you did not notify your insurer of the crash within the time limits specified by your policy.

Why Enlist the Services of an Experienced Car Accident Attorney?

If you have been hurt as a passenger in a car accident, you have rights. Unfortunately, all too often, insurers make the claims process difficult and refuse to pay a fair settlement amount for a claimant’s damages.

Representing yourself in these complicated negotiations can be an added burden during an already stressful time. At Sessoms Law Group, our lawyers are familiar with the tactics used by insurers, and we can leverage our knowledge and experience to help you reach the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our firm today at 678-853-7402 to learn how we can put our skills to work for you!