Passenger Rights After a Car Accident in Orangeburg
If you were injured in a car accident while riding along as a passenger, you have the legal right to seek compensation for any injuries you sustained. Just as drivers have the option to file insurance claims or lawsuits against other at-fault motorists, passengers can also pursue compensation for damages for losses such as medical treatment costs, lost income from missed time at work, and other accident-related expenses.
However, recovering compensation through car accident insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits can be both difficult and time-consuming, even if you were a passenger who was clearly not at fault. If you or someone close to you was involved in a South Carolina car accident as a passenger, it’s a good idea to contact an Orangeburg car accident lawyer for advice and assistance.
The attorneys of Wilson Law Group, LLC, have more than 30 years of combined experience helping local injury victims like you recover compensation in even the most complex car accident cases. Call us today or contact us online for your free initial consultation with our dedicated team and learn more.
Can I Sue or File a Claim If I Was Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
In South Carolina, passengers have the right to file insurance claims against the at-fault driver or drivers in a car accident, or even sue for damages if they are unable to recover the compensation they need through insurance settlements.
South Carolina drivers are required by law to carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for total bodily injury per accident. However, car wrecks frequently cause a lot of damage and injuries that are very expensive to cover, so this $25,000 may not always stretch as far as you need. An experienced car accident attorney can help you determine your best path forward as you seek maximum compensation to cover the losses you sustained.
What Are the Passengers’ Rights After a Car Accident in Orangeburg?
The rights of a passenger involved in an Orangeburg car accident are effectively the same as those of a driver. In South Carolina, the law does not distinguish between different occupants of a vehicle when it comes to personal rights and the ability to recover compensation for accident-related damages. Therefore, just like an injured driver, injured passengers in South Carolina car wrecks can recover reimbursement for losses such as costs of medical treatment and even lost wages by filing an insurance claim against the insurance policies of at-fault drivers.
The main difference between the ability of a passenger and a driver in terms of recovering compensation is the question of fault. Passengers are usually seen as innocent bystanders in any given accident since they have no direct impact on the outcome of a collision. This means that passengers almost never share in the overall liability when they are involved in car wrecks, while a driver involved in a collision may be assigned some portion of the blame.
As such, car drivers may actually face more limitations when it comes to recovering compensation since they may be found partially or fully at fault themselves and unable to make claims against other drivers who were not at fault.
What Happens If the Car I Was in Was At-Fault?
If you were in a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was found at fault, you may be able to file a claim with their insurance company. It’s important to remember that in cases like these, your claim will not be against the person, but their insurance policy.
When the driver of the car you were in was fully or partially responsible for the wreck that injured you, it’s entirely reasonable to expect their insurance to pay for your injuries. That’s what insurance is for, and you shouldn’t feel bad for seeking the compensation you need to recover for damages that weren’t your fault.
Are Passengers Covered by Insurance?
Yes. South Carolina is a fault state, which means that all drivers are responsible for the effects of their actions. This includes accidents those drivers are partially or fully liable for if they resulted in damages to other drivers or passengers. If you were injured in an accident as a passenger, you may be able to file insurance claims against all drivers who bear any responsibility for the wreck, which can help you get the compensation you need if one driver’s $25,000 minimum liability coverage is not enough to cover your losses.
In some cases, one or more drivers involved in a South Carolina accident may not have enough insurance coverage to account for all of the damages they caused you, or they may not carry auto insurance at all. If you elected for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in your own auto insurance policy, you may be able to use this coverage to pay for your accident-related bills, even if you were not driving and your vehicle was not involved in the crash. The process of obtaining insurance coverage in this way can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to seek professional counsel from a knowledgeable attorney.
Additionally, if the owner of the vehicle you were traveling in maintains full-coverage insurance, this insurance can also cover you and the damages you sustained. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you file a passenger car accident claim and identify all potential sources of compensation.
How to Determine Liability of Passenger Injuries
The concept of liability is an integral part of any accident-related injury claim because South Carolina is a fault state. In an Orangeburg car accident case, insurance adjusters, judges, or juries review a variety of evidence to determine who was at fault and to what degree.
For example, insurance company representatives may find that the driver of the car you were in was 25 percent at fault, while the other driver was 75 percent liable. In a case like this, your driver would be responsible for paying for 25 percent of your damages, and the other driver would be responsible for the other 75 percent of the damages.
Determining liability can be difficult and is often achieved by carefully reviewing helpful pieces of evidence like:
- Police accident reports and toxicology test results, if available
- Statements from other drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
- Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists and other expert witnesses
- Medical records for those injured by a crash
- Photographic evidence and video footage from the scene of the accident
- Driving history and safety records of any drivers involved in the crash
- Locations and extent of damage to each vehicle
Should a Passenger Obtain Their Own Legal Counsel?
In some cases, it’s possible to obtain 100 percent of the compensation you need to recover simply by filing claims with at-fault drivers’ insurance policies. However, car accidents have a tendency to be complicated, and car insurance companies will not want to provide more in compensation than absolutely necessary. If you have difficulty recovering compensation for your medical treatment or other related expenses, it may be necessary to retain legal counsel or even file a lawsuit. If the driver of the vehicle you were in was responsible for any portion of the accident, having your own legal counsel is important since their lawyer will likely try to minimize their degree of fault and your potential recovery.
If any of the following elements apply to your Orangeburg car accident case, it’s likely in your best interest to consider hiring your own lawyer:
- There were multiple vehicles involved in your accident.
- You suffered severe or permanent injuries as a result of the crash.
- It is unclear who was at fault in your accident.
- You are frustrated by insurance providers’ lowball settlement offers.
- Your insurance claims have been outright denied.
How Can the Orangeburg Car Accident Lawyers at Wilson Law Group Help Me?
With the assistance of the car accident lawyers at Wilson Law Group, LLC, you can rest assured that your passenger car accident claim will receive the attention and careful consideration it deserves. Our attorneys will help you understand the full breadth of your legal options, uncover compelling evidence to support your claim, and fight relentlessly for the rightful compensation you need.
Our focus on compassion and customer service will ensure you always feel in control and in the loop. We truly want to get to know you and learn everything about your case so we can address your immediate concerns and establish the long-term goals that will provide for your best possible outcome. To start taking action in your Orangeburg car accident claim today, call us or contact us online to take advantage of your free, confidential case review.