What Rights Do I Have as an Injured Passenger in Maryland?

passenger rights

Every year, vehicle safety improves. Car manufacturers add new safety features such as extra airbags and automated warning systems in an effort to keep occupants safe. Some cars will even take control if a vehicle starts to leave its lane or is about to impact another car.

Yet, there is a disturbing trend. Car wreck injuries are still increasing. And injuries do not just happen to drivers. Passengers frequently suffer personal injury in car wrecks in Baltimore and may leave the accident victim with more questions.

No matter the exact cause of the accident, a passenger may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. To find out for sure and to have all of their questions answered, a passenger needs to speak with an experienced car wreck lawyer right away.

Maryland Car Insurance for Passengers

The thought of whose auto insurance applies may never run through a passenger’s mind. Nor should it. No one ever expects to get into a car wreck.

But when it does occur, passengers may not know how their medical expenses get paid and whose insurance applies. Generally, when someone causes an accident, their insurance will cover medical expenses for injured parties. However, some drivers in Maryland do not carry enough insurance coverage, or none at all, leaving car wreck victims stranded.

Maryland law requires all drivers carry certain minimum insurance coverage, but not all drivers follow that law. When that happens, an injured passenger may need to rely on their own insurance coverage. Although this is usually a last resort, it is entirely possible that some car accident passengers will need to file a claim against their own insurance company to cover their medical expenses. Working with a knowledgeable car wreck lawyer can help injured victims navigate the complexities of insurance claims and help them get the benefits for which they are entitled under their policy.

Determining Fault

Avoiding a claim against their own insurance policy is the best course of action for injured passengers. That is why it is vital to determine who caused the accident. It is that person’s insurance that will be responsible for covering medical bills.

However, in serious accidents, insurance policies may not cover all the victim’s needs. Suing the negligent driver may be the best step for the injured passenger to collect maximum compensation. The last thing the injured passenger wants after suffering injuries in a car wreck is to worry about how they will cover their medical expenses.

In the most severe cases, an injured passenger may not be able to return to work for a long time, if at all. This severely hinders the victim’s ability to earn a living and cover their regular expenses. This is one benefit of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver; injured passengers may be able to collect more than just medical expenses.

Collecting every dollar necessary is paramount to an injured passenger’s ability to recover from their injuries. Victims should not need to focus on financial issues. Instead, their effort and energy should focus entirely on their health and wellbeing.

That is why suing the at-fault driver may increase a victim’s chances of getting back to their regular life faster. The best way to achieve that goal is to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Car wreck injuries can be serious and cause catastrophic life changes to victims. Understanding how to proceed toward a full and complete recovery is key to getting better.

Suing Family or Friends

Sometimes, passengers suffer injuries in a car with family or friends. Insurance policies are complex documents, and some specifically exclude coverage for family members. Therefore, if the driver is a family member and was at fault for the accident, the injured passenger may not be able to recover compensation under their family member’s insurance policy.

But that does not mean all hope is lost. Working with an experienced car wreck lawyer, the injured passenger may discover other means of collecting compensation. This might seem like a hassle, but the best way to recover from car wreck injuries is to not worry about how medical bills and other financial obligations are paid.

If a friend caused the car wreck, the injured passenger may be reluctant to sue their friend, just as they may be reluctant to sue a family member. It is important for injured passengers to remember one key fact: they are not suing their friend or family member directly but instead suing their insurance company.

When a passenger suffers car wreck injuries, they must make their health a priority. They can do that by making sure they have the best medical attention available. If a victim is constantly worried about how much their medical care will cost, they are not really focused on their wellbeing.

Although suing a friend or family member may make for an uncomfortable situation, the injured passenger has to do what is best for their health. Depending on the severity of the injuries suffered, the injured passenger may be facing a lifetime of medical needs. Just because a friend or family member caused the accident does not mean the injured passenger should be responsible for covering all of their expenses. They should not be responsible, and suing the insurance company of the at-fault driver may help the victim recover.

Insurance Company Tactics

When an injured passenger sues an insurance company, an insurance adjuster may call to make a quick settlement offer. Many car wreck victims get excited when they hear this news because they want to put the legal matter behind them and focus on their recovery. Ultimately, for some injured passengers, they may end up in financial hardship by taking the first, quick offer.

Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and if they pay out every claim, they will not make money. When the insurance adjuster calls the injured passenger to make a settlement offer, they may tell the victim that they have to decide right away and that there is no point hiring a lawyer because this is the best offer the insurance company can make.

Actually, neither of these things are true. Lawyers may be able to increase settlement offers by aggressively negotiating on behalf of the injured passenger. The first offer from an insurance company is rarely their best or highest offer.

The other tragic piece of taking a quick settlement offer is that it may bind the victim to covering the financial burden of their medical care. That might sound strange; after all, the victim gets a settlement. The problem is that the settlement may not contain enough money to cover all the victim’s needs, both for their medical expenses and their financial losses from being out of work.

When an injured passenger signs a settlement offer, they waive their right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for the accident in which they suffered injuries. When they victim runs out of money from the settlement but still has medical expenses to cover, they cannot go back to the insurance company asking for more money. In this situation, the injured passenger is stuck bearing the burden of covering their expenses.

This is why it is vital for an injured passenger to speak with a lawyer right away. Their lawyer will help protect their rights and advise them on whether it makes sense to take a settlement offer. The right lawyer may also be able to battle the insurance company to increase the settlement amount, working toward the goal of collecting maximum compensation for the victim.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Guide You Through Your Recovery

If you have been injured as a passenger in a Maryland car wreck, you need to focus on getting better. But you also need to make sure your rights are protected. The experienced Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help protect your rights and work toward the goal of collecting maximum compensation for you. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.