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Do Injured Passengers in Car Accidents Have Rights?

A vehicle passenger who sustains injuries in a car accident generally has an easier time recovering compensation for injuries than the drivers of involved vehicles. This is because the passenger does not have to prove fault — one of the drivers was at fault, so one of the drivers' insurance companies needs to foot the bill. The problem is, whose insurance company should assume responsibility? The answer to that does come down to fault.

Determining Which Insurance Company in Responsible

If you are the passenger victim of a car accident, you would treat the insurance claims process just as you would if you were the driver of either vehicle. However, instead of filing a claim against one party, you would file a claim against both drivers, assuming it was a two-car accident.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. For instance, if one driver was clearly negligent—which may be the case in a rear end collision or when one driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol—you would not want to bother filing a claim against the innocent driver. Doing so would produce more of a headache for you, as it would likely lead to the insurers fighting over who will have to pay. You can negate that whole song and dance by going directly to the at-fault party's insurance provider.

Filing a Claim Through Your Own Insurance Company

There may be instances in which passengers are forced to use their own insurance to cover the cost of injuries and subsequent damages. For instance, say the at-fault party is uninsured or underinsured and the driver of the vehicle you were in is a friend or family member. You may choose to use your own insurance to avoid hard feelings between yourself and your loved one. You may also have to use your own insurance if you file a claim with both parties and both parties engage in a drawn-out dispute about who has to pay. In the meantime, you can use MedPay, PIP, or your own health insurance to cover the cost of medical care, and then use whatever settlement you receive to repay your insurer.

It is important to note that there are a few drawbacks to using your own insurance. When you file a claim with your own provider, your rates are bound to go up. This is true even if you shared no fault in the accident whatsoever. Additionally, if you plan to use your MedPay or PIP, and if your injuries are extensive, your coverage may not be enough to cover the cost of damages. Ideally, you should try to recover from the liable party's provider before you turn to your own.

Contact an Oklahoma Car Accident Attorney

If you sustained injuries as a passenger in a car accident, you have just as much right to recover damages from the liable party as the non-at-fault driver. Unfortunately, many passenger victims do not know this and file claims with their own providers. Before you make that mistake, consult with an Oklahoma car accident lawyer regarding your rights and options. Reach out to BDIW Law today to learn more.

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