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What to do if you're involved in a crash with a friend or relative

Philadelphia car accident attorney

A car accident attorney discusses your legal rights if you were injured in a crash while riding with a friend or relative.

Were you injured while riding in a car as a passenger? If so, you'll have to determine who will be responsible for paying for your medical expenses, lost wages and other crash-related damages. The at-fault party is likely either the driver of the car you were riding in or the driver of another car.
If your driver caused the crash, it's possible that the at-fault driver was a friend, family member, or colleague. When this happens, passengers may be reluctant to take legal action. They would rather work it out with their friend or family member without going through the process of filing a claim and getting insurance companies involved.

The truth is your family member or friend doesn't pay for your damages out of pocket. Their insurance company is responsible for paying the full extent of your damages. That includes your medical bills, lost wages while you're unable to work, property damage and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

First, an investigation needs to be conducted

There can be a lot of speculation and finger-pointing after a crash, but only the evidence determines who was at fault. Determining fault after a crash is often a complex process that requires an in-depth investigation by an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney. There are many reasons why a crash may occur while you're riding in a car with a friend or relative. Either your driver or the other driver was likely:

  • Texting and driving
  • Speeding or driving aggressively
  • Fatigued
  • Impaired
  • Using poor judgment during unfavorable conditions

It's also possible that your crash was caused by a vehicle defect. In that case, a car parts manufacturer, car dealer, or car mechanic is likely responsible. The only way to truly find out is to look for the facts. Here's what an attorney at The Hanamirian Firm, PC can do for you:

  • Work with a crash reconstruction expert to find out how the crash likely occurred.
  • Examine the car accident report documented by the police.
  • Speak to witnesses and ask them what they saw.
  • Get a subpoena for the at-fault driver's cellphone records.
  • Track down surveillance camera or dashcam footage if possible.

How will I be compensated for my damages?

Whether your crash was caused by your driver or another driver, there was likely little you could do to prevent it. As a result, you could be facing mounting medical bills and be out of work for several months. You may be wondering how you will be compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.

Pennsylvania is considered a "no-fault" car insurance state, which means that personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is made available to all drivers. Unlike many other no-fault states, it's not mandatory to purchase PIP, however. Drivers who carry PIP coverage can be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses and death benefits, without having to prove that another party was at-fault. These are known as first-party benefits, but the amount of compensation paid in a PIP claim depends on the cost of the PIP policy a driver carries. They don't just apply to the driver who carries the policy, but they also apply to passengers in the same car.

Your damages may exceed the threshold on your driver's PIP policy. If so, you'll need to file a claim against his or her insurance company. If the driver is a friend or relative, you can do this without ruining your relationship with them. Their insurance company would be responsible for compensating you for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Why you need an attorney

Cases like yours are very difficult to sort out. Proving who was at fault and accurately tallying up your damages can take a considerable amount of time. In addition, getting an insurance company to agree to a fair settlement can be a painstaking process. Insurance companies are more concerned with protecting their bottom line. They'll use every trick in the book to pay you as little as possible, including offering a lowball settlement.

That's why you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side who can advocate for you and get results. The Hanamirian Firm, PC, offers free and confidential case evaluations to our clients in Philadelphia. We want to sit down with you, hear your side of the story and explore your legal options with you. There is no obligation to hire us to handle your claim. If you decide to hire us, you will only pay for our legal services if we win your case. Contact us online or call us to learn more.

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