When multiple people are riding in one car, the insurance coverage for all of the passengers is associated with the vehicle. This means that when it come time to settle the case, or divide a jury verdict, the insurance funds are split among the injured parties. Essentially, when it comes to collecting payment from insurance companies, every person in the car needs to fend for themselves. This is also a consideration if your children are in the car.
Here are some steps to keep in mind when confronting an auto accident involving multiple passengers. (These rules apply not only in Illinois, but across the country)
1. Determine If Everyone Is Okay
Is anyone in your vehicle or nearby injured? If so, call 911. A Good Samaritan may have already done so, but it never hurts to make sure that medical help and law enforcement officers are on the way. Better safe than sorry when someone's health - and maybe life - are at stake.
It is also important to fight the urge to resolve the situation quickly and get home. Even if other people in your care claim not to be hurt, it is wise to insist that an ambulance take them to the hospital or doctor. This is especially true if the passenger(s) is not a member of your family but a friend or associate.
2. Call The Police
Even a seemingly minor fender-bender can lead to big problems down the road. To preserve a potential legal claim down the line you need to get in touch with the police and make sure you file a police report about the accident. Then, make sure you have the other driver's insurance information. A full an detailed police report is the key to successfully achieving an appropriate damage award.
3. Take Care Of Yourself
You may feel fine right after the accident. In fact, you may feel nothing at all due to the adrenaline pumping through your body after such a close call. However, you may start to feel some soreness, stiffness and pain as that adrenaline wears off in the hours, days, and weeks that follow.
It is critical to get checked out by a doctor after your accident to rule out invisible injuries such as internal bleeding, and to create a record of treatment that will help a personal injury claim if you decided to pursue one.
Remember, similar rules apply to those we hear on airplanes where you must put on your own oxygen mask before placing one on your traveling companion. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't help others--even those involved in the wreck.
4. Talk To An Attorney
It will cost you nothing to find out whether you have a viable claim for damages, but going without the legal representation you need could leave you alone to bear the burden of medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Don't let that happen. Further, if there are other injured parties involved, generally the first party to retain an experienced local lawyer will receive the greatest amount of compensation and best service. Insurance companies will do their best to withhold payment no matter what the injuries, and it is important to have help from a lawyer. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.