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What Should I Do if I Was Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

Loveland Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Recover Damages for Passengers Injured in Accidents.

Survivors of car accidents often report being emotionally traumatized for years afterwards, especially if they suffered injuries. Drivers involved in accidents are usually the primary parties involved, but what about injured passengers? They may experience the same kind of trauma through no fault of their own. As long as a passenger did nothing to contribute to the accident, such as distract the driver they were riding with, they bear no liability for the accident.

If you were riding in someone else’s vehicle and were injured in a car crash, it is important that you know your rights and what steps you should take after an accident. In Ohio, state law allows injured passengers to file a claim against both the driver of the vehicle you were traveling in as well as the driver of the other vehicle. If there was more than one party whose negligence was responsible for the motor vehicle accident that caused your injuries, the law says you may seek compensation from them all.

What Are Some Common Passenger Injuries?

Passengers can experience a wide range of injuries in a car crash. Some minor injuries require minimal medical attention and can heal with enough rest and time. A serious accident can cause passengers to be thrown from the car and result in severe and life-altering injuries that require extensive surgeries and long hospital stays. Passengers who suffer these types of injuries are sometimes left with lasting problems, like chronic pain, PTSD, and severe scarring or disfigurement. These are some of the most common types of injuries suffered by passengers in car accidents:

  • Broken bones: Some hairline fractures may heal relatively quickly, but compound fractures where the bone breaks through the skin require surgery to insert metal pins or screws to hold the bone together while it heals.
  • Head injuries: This category of injuries includes traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), concussions, and skull fractures, usually from the head striking the dashboard or being thrown backwards against the seat.
  • Neck injuries: Whiplash is perhaps the most well-known car accident injury and occurs because the impact of the crash causes the head to move through the air with a momentum that is different from the lower body. The effects of whiplash can be long lasting.
  • Back injuries: Sprains, strains, and herniated discs are common after a car accident, although they are not always immediately apparent.
  • Internal organ damage: The impact of a crash can damage the soft tissue and internal organs directly under the seat belt area.
  • Spinal cord injuries: In severe accidents passengers may suffer spinal cord damage, which can cause pain, numbness, or paralysis.
  • Facial injuries: If the passenger’s head strikes the dashboard or window with enough force, they may suffer lacerations and broken facial bones that need surgery. After healing, they may be left with significant scarring.
  • Burn injuries: If the vehicle catches fire after being hit in an accident, a trapped passenger may suffer painful burns. Serious burns are extremely painful, and not only require surgery for skin grafting, but can take a long time to heal.

Compensation for Injured Passengers

Injuries from a car accident can have tremendous impact on your life financially, physically, and emotionally. Medical bills for serious injuries can quickly pile up, and it may be difficult for you to continue to work as you go through the recovery process. Depression may set in, or you may have recurring nightmares about the accident.

You should know that you can seek to recover compensation for all of the types of losses you experience by filing a personal injury claim against one or more of the drivers responsible for the accident that caused your injuries. While it may be difficult to think about filing a claim against a friend or family member, remember that it is their insurance that pays damages on their behalf, and you are not asking them to pay you damages directly.

Sometimes, the cause of the accident is out of the driver’s control and a defective part of the vehicle is responsible for the accident. If a manufacturing defect such as faulty brakes caused the accident, you may seek compensation from the manufacturer of the faulty part.

Compensation for injuries after a car accident may include damages for the following:

  • Medical bills.
  • Follow-up medical care if necessary, such as occupational or physical therapy.
  • Lost income, including the loss of future earnings if you are unable to work after the accident.
  • Modifications to your home if needed for a permanent disability caused by the accident.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Quality of life.

Important Steps to Take After Being Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident

After a car accident, you may be confused or panicked, but it is important to remain calm and take these steps to protect your health and safety:

  • Check yourself and other occupants of the vehicle for injuries. Call 911 if anyone is seriously injured, and wait for emergency services to arrive.
  • If it is safe to do so, remove the accident vehicles from the path of moving traffic.
  • If possible, document the accident scene as much as you can by taking photos of everything, such as damage to the vehicles, road conditions, weather conditions, and any injuries. Get contact information from all the drivers involved and any eyewitnesses.
  • See a medical professional for your injuries. Do not skip this step, even if you think you are feeling fine, as many injuries do not present immediate symptoms, and your body may be under the effects of adrenaline from the accident. For example a doctor may diagnose a concussion through simple tests before you realize you have one.
  • After the doctor recommends treatment, whether this is medication, physical therapy, or surgeries, follow their instructions carefully and attend all the appointments necessary to complete treatment. Failure to see a doctor for treatment or canceling recommended treatment could jeopardize your case for compensation. Failure to see a doctor right away will appear to the insurance company that your injuries were not really serious if you did not need medical care.
  • Notify the appropriate car insurance companies that you were injured in an accident caused by one of their insured drivers.

Also, talk to a lawyer who can help you determine the best legal path for compensation and protect your rights as an injured passenger. There may be several avenues available to you for recovering damages.

A lawyer can also make sure your claim is filed before the statute of limitations expires. In Ohio, most car accident lawsuits have a deadline of two years from the date of the injury.

Loveland Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Recover Damages for Passengers Injured in Accidents

If you have suffered injuries while you were a passenger in a car accident, contact one of our Loveland car accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office today. Call us at 513-488-1135 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we represent clients throughout Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.