If you were a passenger in a car wreck and were injured, what should you do? Aside from seeking any necessary medical attention, you should know that you have the same rights to file an injury claim. If you were a passenger involved in a motor vehicle accident, the lawyers of Rhine Law Firm, P.C., in Wilmington can help. Our auto accident attorneys in Wilmington represent car crash victims and their families throughout the state.
As a passenger, you have the right to seek compensation for injuries you sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys will take steps to determine the cause of the collision, whether it was the negligent actions of another driver or the carelessness of the person who was driving the vehicle in which you were riding. If the latter is the case, we strongly recommend you have separate counsel from him or her to prevent a conflict of interest.
Passenger injuries are common in multicar collisions, especially those involving 18-wheelers. The catastrophic injuries, such as head or spinal injuries that are often sustained in such accidents, can result in extensive medical bills, lost wages, long-term disability, and diminished quality of life. We have decades of experience helping clients pursue full and fair compensation to which they are entitled for these setbacks.
However, keep in mind that this can be a complicated process. When you were the passenger involved in a crash, many different factors must be determined. One of them is which driver is at fault for the car accident. Another is quantifying the compensation you deserve. As an experienced Wilmington personal injury firm, we can guide you through the process of litigating a claim against the at-fault driver or his or her car insurance company.
Auto insurance companies have representatives looking out for their best interests and they know that you may sue for personal injuries. Passengers are often friends or relatives of the driver who is at fault. The insurer knows that in these instances the passenger would rather not sue.
Do not be taken advantage of in this situation by accepting an insufficient settlement offer. If there was more than one driver that caused the accident, it may be necessary to file claims with both insurers to fully recover. These are just a couple of reasons why it is critical after being injured in a car accident to retain legal counsel with the knowledge and experience to assist you.
The state requires motorists to maintain auto liability coverage that covers injuries and property damage that are the driver’s responsibility (i.e., for when that driver is “at fault”). This coverage applies to the driver and other family members in the household, as well as to individuals that the driver allows to borrow his/her car.
The state-required minimums of liability coverage are:
Damages typically associated with bodily injury include medical costs, funeral costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Property damage includes damage to another person’s vehicle, or coverage for other property such as objects the driver hit during an accident.
Medical Payments Coverage (“Med-Pay”) is an optional coverage. Some states call a similar coverage personal injury protection (PIP); however, it is not available in North Carolina under this name. Med-Pay coverage is designed to pay medical expenses for an insured and passengers stemming from an accident without regard to fault. (Not everyone will have Med-Pay in North Carolina, but your attorney can check.)
Uninsured motorist insurance provides coverage when the driver at fault does not have liability coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage when the driver at fault has liability limits that are insufficient to cover the expenses incurred.
North Carolina is one of only a few states that has strict contributory negligence. If you choose to ride as a passenger in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver, the driver (or his insurer) may contend that you contributed to your injuries and are not eligible for recovering damages. The law states that even if you were just partly to blame, you may not be eligible to receive compensation.
Another rare scenario is if you were to knowingly allow an intoxicated driver to operate your vehicle and ride as a passenger; in which case you may be charged with aiding or abetting a DUI. In fact, the Charlotte Observer recently reported a case where this occurred involving a former North Carolina State Senator.
“Joel Rhine and his staff did everything possible to help us in a very dark period of our lives.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better firm to handle my injury claim. If you do not have confidence with your attorney, you need to contact Rhine Law Firm immediately.”
“Rhine Law Firm went out of their way to make sure that my mother-in-law obtains everything she is entitled to in an injury case.”
“It was a long, arduous process and we cannot thank Joel and the rest of the team at Rhine Law Firm enough.”
“Joel will make sure you are well taken care of. He will fight for you and what you deserve and go to all measures to make sure you get it.”
We invite you to contact us at (910) 772-9960 today for your free consultation. Office hours 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening and weekend appointments also available.
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