How to File a Car Accident Claim as a Passenger

December 16, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
How to File a Car Accident Claim as a Passenger

As an injured passenger, you may file an insurance claim with the auto insurer covering the driver of the vehicle you were riding in. You must take this step in no-fault insurance states, where someone’s own insurance covers certain damages regardless of who caused the collision.

Most states require motorists to buy auto insurance that covers passengers’ injuries.

If another party—not the driver of the car you rode in—caused the crash, you can file a claim with their insurance company.

A car accident attorney will claim any compensation from insurers that you deserve. If one or more insurance claims will not adequately cover your losses, your lawyer will advise you about filing a lawsuit.

Allow a Car Accident Attorney to Handle Your Insurance Claim(s) as an Injured Passenger 

How to File a Car Accident Claim as a Passenger

Your attorney will advise you of your options for seeking compensation as an injured passenger.

Those options may include:

  • An insurance claim with the provider for the motorist whose vehicle you were riding in
  • An insurance claim with the insurance company for a third-party motorist (who may be the at-fault motorist)
  • A lawsuit against parties whose negligence caused your injuries

Insurance claims and lawsuits can be time-consuming, complex, frustrating pursuits. This is particularly true if you persist until you secure all the compensation you are entitled to.

Rather than deal with this difficult, likely unfamiliar process on your own, allow an experienced car accident lawyer to represent you.

A car accident lawyer will:

One of the first steps is proving who is at fault for the accident. Proving fault will help determine whose insurance company is financially responsible for your losses.

Useful evidence may include:

  • Footage from dash cameras, security cameras, or any other video sources
  • Eyewitness testimony about how the car accident happened
  • Testimony from those involved in the car accident (including you)
  • A law enforcement officer’s report about the accident
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Photographs of damage to vehicles involved in the accident

Your attorney will secure evidence as quickly as possible. If you wait to hire a lawyer (who will pursue evidence for you), important evidence may not be available when they start their investigation. Don’t wait.

Attorneys must show exactly how a car accident has harmed their client.

As a passenger injured in a car accident, your lawyer may prove your damages using:

  • Medical images of your injuries (MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and any other necessary images)
  • Your doctor’s diagnosis of accident-related injuries
  • Bills for all accident-related medical services and items
  • Invoices for the replacement of your damaged property
  • Proof that you have been unable to work
  • Past income records proving how much income you have lost 
  • An expert’s diagnosis of your mental health difficulties

A car accident lawyer will detail exactly how your accident has affected you.

Calculate How Much Money You Deserve

An auto accident might have a five-, six-, or even seven-figure price tag for the victim. Passengers who suffer injuries can face significant financial and non-economic hardship because of an accident.

Calculating an accident victim’s damages requires an understanding of:

  • How to calculate damages that lack a clear financial value, such as pain and suffering
  • Understanding how to deal with physical or psychological injuries that have not healed at the time of the case
  • Projecting the value of future damages when necessary
  • Calculating the share of financial responsibility for an injured passenger’s damages

These are areas your car accident lawyer will know well. Attorneys handle these duties for every client they represent and can take these essential steps out of your hands.

Lead Every Step of the Insurance Claims Process

The insurance claims process is unavoidable for most accident victims. The good news is you never have to handle these high-stakes, time-consuming steps yourself.

Instead, allow a car accident lawyer to:

  • Review all insurance policies that apply to you
  • Determine how much compensation each policy entitles you to
  • Determine which accident-related losses the policies do (and don’t) cover
  • Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Review all settlement offers with you

You may secure the money you need and deserve through the insurance claims process. However, it may take several rounds of negotiations for you to secure the settlement you deserve.

Having an experienced lawyer deal with insurers can lead to the case outcome you hope for.

Advise You Whether to Move Forth with a Lawsuit

You and your car accident lawyer will review the best settlement offers you have received from insurers. If one or more offers do not cover the cost of your accident-related damages, your attorney will discuss filing a lawsuit.

Keep in mind that catastrophic injuries have extreme costs that many accident victims cannot cover. You must receive all the money you deserve, and filing a lawsuit may be the only way to obtain a fair amount of money.

Complete Every Step of Your Lawsuit, If We Pursue One

If you choose to file a lawsuit, your car accident lawyer will:

  • Complete final negotiations with insurance companies, as parties may want settle (even if the settlement happens at the last minute before trial)
  • If the lawsuit moves forward, completing pre-trial activities (including discovery)
  • Making opening arguments
  • Presenting evidence
  • Questioning and cross-examining witnesses
  • Making closing arguments (and demanding that the jury award you the compensation you deserve)

Having a car accident lawyer on your side can be particularly important at trial. Most passengers injured during car accidents have never had a case go to trial. A lawyer’s experience and knowledge of the trial process can be immensely valuable to you.

Your Attorney Will Deal With Insurers, Protecting Your Rights in the Process

Your Attorney Will Deal With Insurers, Protecting Your Rights in the Process

In addition to the responsibilities already listed, your lawyer will handle all interactions with insurance companies. This is critical.

While insurance companies often pay the cost of car accidents, accident victims (including passengers) do not always receive the money they deserve. Furthermore, insurance companies may try to pay as little money as possible.

By trusting your case to a car accident lawyer, you allow your attorney to protect you from bad-faith insurance tactics, including:

  • Claims that you do not deserve compensation: One or more insurers might claim that policies do not apply to you. An attorney will familiarize themselves with all applicable insurance policies and determine who owes you compensation. 
  • Undervaluation of your losses: An insurance company may undervalue an accident victim’s losses. If the victim does not determine the cost of their damages, an insurer may get away with paying less than the victim deserves.
  • Delays: An insurance company may have multiple reasons to delay a claim. As an insurance company delays, an accident victim may face mounting financial pressure. The insurer may hope the victim is more likely to accept a lowball settlement offer. Your lawyer will ensure that an insurance company moves your claim forward at a reasonable pace.
  • Lowball offers: Insurers often offer car accident victims lowball settlements. This happens for injured passengers, too. Do not accept any settlement offer unless you are completely certain the settlement will cover your accident-related losses. A car accident attorney will review all offers with you, cautioning when an insurer presents a lowball offer.
  • Miscommunication and confusion: Insurance companies may benefit from your confusion. An insurer may try to confuse you about the details of the accident, types of coverage in policies, and other facts related to your case. 

Your car accident lawyer will carefully assess your case's circumstances and relevant insurance policies. They will work to ensure the quick processing of your claim and hold insurers accountable for the financial coverage you deserve.

What Damages Should I Seek Compensation for as an Injured Passenger?

You should seek compensation for any damages resulting from your car accident. The human body and mind are not ready to endure serious auto collisions, and your damages may include:

Pain and Suffering

Motor vehicle accidents leave a lasting impact beyond physical injuries.

Attorneys refer to many types of non-economic damages as pain and suffering, which can include:

Each accident victim experiences different symptoms from an accident. If you have scarring, disfigurement, sleep problems, or any other problems that qualify as pain and suffering, your attorney will seek compensation for those damages.

Your car accident lawyer will also demand fair compensation for any treatment you seek for pain and suffering.

Injured passengers shouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for accident-related medical treatment.

Your attorney will demand that liable parties cover the following:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Surgeries
  • Hospitalization
  • Imaging
  • Medications

Every survivor of a car accident has unique healthcare needs. Your attorney will consult your doctors to secure your treatment plan, calculate the cost of your care, and include those costs in your case.

Professional Damages

When injuries from a car accident interfere with a victim’s ability to work, an injured passenger may suffer:

  • Lost income
  • Lost earning power
  • Missed bonus opportunities
  • Lost progress toward promotions
  • Lost benefits

The severity of your injuries, duration of unemployment, and employment details will affect the value of your professional damages. Your attorney may hire an economist to total your professional damages and project any future damages you will suffer.

Property Expenses

Your lawyer will seek compensation for damage to your phone, clothing, eyewear, accessories, and any other property damaged during the car accident.

Your lawyer will address all your damages. They will identify every type of collision-related harm, assign a financial value to each damage, and seek fair compensation for those damages.

Why Do Injured Passengers Rely on Car Accident Attorneys?

If you’re wondering whether hiring a car accident lawyer is necessary, consider why so many injured passengers hire attorneys.

Though every client has their own motivation for hiring a lawyer, some common reasons include:

  • The financial lifeline a lawyer provides: Car accident lawyers pay for their clients’ cases. Often, a law firm can afford to invest more resources into a case than their client otherwise would. Therefore, your lawyer-led case may include expert testimony, reconstructions of the accident, and other evidence they have the funds to seek.
  • The no-fee guarantee common among car accident lawyers: Most car accident lawyers require no upfront or hourly fee. Rather, you simply agree to give the law firm a percentage of any settlement or verdict it secures for you. This contingency fee arrangement ensures that you pay no out-of-pocket cost for legal help. 
  • Lawyers’ familiarity with insurance claims and lawsuits: An attorney will know exactly what to do after your accident. Rather than wasting precious time or action, their experience with car accident cases will allow your lawyer to move precisely and urgently. Such decisiveness can prove a key benefit to your case.
  • Accident victims’ unfamiliarity with insurance claims and lawsuits: You may lack any relevant experience with insurance claims and lawsuits. This alone is reason enough to rely on a car accident lawyer to seek the money you deserve.

Your health is a priority requiring your attention, yet another reason to hire a car accident lawyer. Your decision to hire a lawyer will afford you more time for treatment, rest, and whatever else you need to recover.

It is difficult to value the peace of mind that an experienced lawyer is fighting for you. Based on what many former clients say, the value of this benefit is immense.

Find a Trustworthy Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Many injured passengers don’t know their options after a car accident. Fortunately, it is easy to learn once you consult the right car accident attorney. A lawyer will navigate the path ahead, protecting your rights and fighting for the settlement or verdict you deserve.

Research personal injury lawyers in your area today. Don’t wait; your case has a filing deadline you can’t afford to miss. Consultations are free with no obligation, so you have nothing to lose by asking a professional about your legal options.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.