Oklahoma Passenger Injury Attorney
Passenger Injury Claims After a Car Wreck
Being a safe and responsible driver is a great way to avoid accidents, but it's not always enough. Many times it's the "other guy" driving near us that we need to look out for. But, what if you're just a passenger and have no control over the vehicle you're in? In that case, there may be two "other guys" responsible for your safety. If you're injured while riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle, it's important that you take the right steps immediately afterward. Your first step should be to seek medical care, and your second should be to consult an experienced Oklahoma car accident lawyer.
Passenger Ejection in a Crash
Over the past few decades, automakers have improved their vehicles' crash-worthiness, or the manner in which they protect occupants in the event of a crash. However, some of these safety devices fail or malfunction when needed most, causing the occupant to be ejected from the vehicle. Examples of faulty mechanisms include defective seat belts, malfunctioning door latches, and weak window glass. These “malfunctions” are common in rollover crashes.
There are two types of occupant ejections:
- Complete ejection: when the occupant is thrown completely out of the vehicle, at risk of being run over by other vehicles.
- Partial ejection: when the occupant's body is thrown partially through the windshield, or thrown slightly, but not fully, out the window. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if the vehicle rolls after the collision.
People who have been thrown from a vehicle during a crash often sustain catastrophic or fatal injuries. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Internal organ damage
- Multiple fractures or crushed bones
- Spinal cord trauma that could cause paralysis
- Torso or rib injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
Who’s Liable If You’re Injured as a Passenger?
Though you weren’t driving the vehicle you were injured in, and completely not at fault, you could still find yourself in a situation where you face mounting medical bills, lost wages due to time off of work, the costs of physical therapy, and more.
If you were ejected from the vehicle, depending on the circumstances, several parties could potentially be held liable for your damages and losses. For example, if a defective seat belt, airbag, or window glass caused the ejection and/or injuries, the automaker and the manufacturer of the defective vehicle part can be held liable.
If you were injured by the accident itself, and not ejected, the negligent driver (or both drivers) who caused the crash can be held liable. Don't worry, you have options. As a passenger, you can file what is known as a third-party insurance claim.
Oklahoma Third-Party Insurance Claims Explained
A third-party insurance claim is a claim you make on an insurance policy that is not your own. Depending on which driver is at fault, you have two options. You can file a claim against:
- The insurance policy of the owner or driver of the vehicle you were riding in when the accident occurred, or
- The insurance policy of the owner or driver of another vehicle involved in the accident.
Different auto insurance policies carry different amounts of liability coverage. Liability is the amount a policy will pay to an injured party. If the policy of the driver you file a claim against has insufficient liability coverage, you may need to file multiple claims.
You're riding in your friend Joe's car when you're involved in an accident with Mr. X. As a result of the accident, you have $20,000 in medical bills and lose $10,000 from time off of work while you were injured. You believe Mr. X to be at fault and file your claim against him. The problem is that Mr. X only has $15,000 in liability coverage. This leaves you $15,000 short. In such a case, you may file a claim against the policy of the other driver involved in the accident (your friend Joe) for the rest of your expenses.
Deciding settlements in accident cases can take a long time, sometimes years. This is especially true when you're filing a claim against a policy that is not your own. In the meantime, you've got mounting medical bills to pay. In such a case, you can file a claim for medical payments or "med pay." Med pay doesn't depend on who is determined to be at fault, so these claims are settled faster. Unfortunately, med pay only covers medical expenses, not lost wages, pain and suffering, or any other damages. In addition, not all drivers have med pay coverage on their insurance policies.
Speak to an Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer to File a Claim
As you can see, filing a claim as an injured passenger can be complicated. This is why it's recommended that you get the counsel of a passenger injury lawyer. Car Accident Help has represented many accident injury clients and won substantial damages. We will guide you through the claims process and see that you get the financial compensation you deserve. Call today at (405) 285-4357 to discuss your case.
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