No one wants to be in an accident, but what happens if you’re a passenger during a car accident and you’re injured?
There are a few ways you can go about receiving compensation for your medical costs and losses, but there are things to know to do so.
Insurance and Passengers
When it comes to car insurance, basic liability insurance doesn’t cover passengers in the insurance holder’s vehicle. Let’s say you’re driving someone else, and you have basic liability insurance. Then your passenger gets hurt, but they aren’t covered. Your basic liability insurance covers the passengers in the other involved vehicles.
Even with full insurance coverage, passengers aren’t necessarily entirely covered.
Other things to know about insurance in general include:
- If you live in a no-fault insurance state, it means fault doesn’t affect which insurance pays if there are injuries. These laws also limit the rights to sue after an accident. In these states, residents have to buy Personal Injury Protection coverage.
- In these no-fault states, an insurance company pays following an accident in a certain order. First, the policyholder, then the direct insureds then the indirect insureds. In a no-fault state, if you’re driving and your passenger gets hurt, the other driver’s policy might pay benefits for your passengers. Direct insureds, however, have to live in your home with you.
- In the 38 states that are considered tort states, there are different terms for passenger coverage. Basic liability insurance allowed in tort states doesn’t cover payments for passenger injuries in your vehicle.
- If you get in an accident with no-fault insurance, and you’re an injured passenger, you will probably be covered under the personal injury protection policy of the driver.
- If you’re a passenger and both drivers are found to be at-fault, you could possibly negotiate with both drivers’ insurance companies.
What Should You Do First?
Once you’ve ensured that you don’t need emergency medical attention and that no one else does, you should contact 911 right away. Even if you don’t necessarily feel injured right away, you could be so it’s best to get medical attention either way.
Making a Claim
Once you’ve gotten past the initial steps of the accident, you can usually make a claim against either of the following liability insurance policies:
- The first option is the policy of the owner or driver of the car you were in during the time of the accident.
- The second option is the policy of the driver or owner of the other vehicle.
In either case, it’s a third-party claim because you’re filing a claim under a policy that isn’t yours.
As a side note, if you’re injured as a rideshare passenger with Uber or Lyft, that can also be a third-party claim whether you make a claim against the insurer of the driver or the rideshare’s policy.
You may make multiple claims if one policy doesn’t provide sufficient coverage for your losses.
If you’re injured as a passenger, and you live with the driver and owner of the policy, you probably can’t pursue your claim against their liability coverage. You would likely be considered an insured under the policy.
Med Pay Coverage
If you need medical care after an accident and you’re still waiting for an insurance claim to go through, which can be a lengthy process, you may be able to use your health insurance to cover the cost to treat your injuries.
There’s also something called med pay, and it’s something a lot of people don’t know about.
Essentially with med pay, you can make a claim under your own car insurance for the costs of your medical bills.
A med pay claim isn’t based on who was at fault for an accident, so processing times are usually much faster.
As the name implies, though, med pay only covers medical bills. It doesn’t cover other losses, like lost wages.
There are usually pretty low limits with the use of med pay too.
A final scenario to think about is what happens if there’s an accident with multiple injured passengers.
If all passengers file a claim against the driver and the value of the injuries goes above the liability coverage the driver has, then each injured person may have to settle, and they may get less than what their case is worth. If there’s not an agreement between the passengers the insurance company may not settle with any of them.