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If I was a passenger involved in a car accident, do I file a claim against the responsible party?

Sacramento, CA |

My friend was driving, and we got rear-ended. None of us were severely injured, but I did suffer some whiplash-like symptoms. We didn't file a police report, and I don't believe anyone admitted fault. My friend and the driver who hit us exchanged information, and the driver's insurance company cooperated, and my friend was able to get his car fixed. However, I've been very uninvolved in the entire post-accident process, and I have ER bills to pay from my visit to the hospital after the accident. My friend said he filed a claim for me, but it's been more than a month, and we haven't heard from the other driver's insurance company. Am I the one that's supposed to file the claim? And through who's insurance do I file the claim with?

Attorney Answers 14


  1. Do not wait to hear from anyone and do not speak to anyone else until you have consulted with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.


  2. I live and work in California and deal with accidents like yours all the time, so I am happy to answer your question. The answer to your question is your gut instinct is right in that you are not certain about your rights. Insurance companies PURPOSEFULLY fail to respond to people who make a claim against them. Essentially you are asking the insurance company for money and MOST people would never return a phone call to someone who is asking for money. With that being said you have a lot of rights as a passanger and I would make sure that you hire a lawyer.

    At our firm we always refer people to all kinds of doctors and chiropractor and our clients never pay anything upfront, not even a copay. The doctors are willing to do this because an attorney is on board. You are entitled to have your property damage, medical bills and future medical expenses PAID FOR BY THE OTHER PARTY'S INSURANCE. The attorney you hire will handle the claims process from start to finish. I've handled cases and referred clients to great doctors in the Sacramento, CA area.

    But you are going to need to see a specliast to even get a shot at getting future medical treatment from the Defenedant. Moreover it sounds like the accident is completely the other persons fault so you don't want this case to become a difficult one because of lack of inattention. The insurance company will make you believe that your case is worth very little... Regarding pain and suffering, you need to speak to an experienced attorney that can strategize your case. Just because you were in an accident doesn't mean you have pain and suffering, at least thats what the insurance companies think. Make no doubt about it you have a great case, but you need help from a professional. You are entitled to your medical bills being covered as well.

    Do you feel that you are at the same medical condition that you were before the accident? As a basic premise I wouldn't handle your claim by yourself. The attorney you hired can likely refer you to a doctor, if you ask for one, who will see you with no upfront payment! I've done this many times to help my clients out. You should not wait a single day to hire a lawyer, we will advise you on the strategy of your case. There is no upfront cost to hire an attorney.

    With a case like yours it seems like you have some good facts in order to get a high settlement, but your case definitely needs to be developed further to corroborate your story. The most important thing when building your case are: liability (were you at fault); how bad are your injuries to your body. A lot of these things sound like they are not complete yet in your case so its something that is worth hiring an attorney for in order to get a sense of whether you have a case and what the strategy would be for you to build a strong case! I've handled cases and/or spoken to clients in the Sacramento, CA area.

    Its very possible that your case is worth more than the $$$ that the insurance company will offer you by yourself. Make your life easier and call an attorney today, you won't regret it.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference


  3. I agree with Mr. Schoen. You need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in the area where the accident happened. And do so quickly.


  4. It is ultimately your responsibility to file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company; your friend cannot file a claim for you. But before you contact that company, you should consult with an experienced personal injury to discuss your options.

    Most of us offer free initial consultations, and only take a fee if we obtain a recovery for you. A person who is represented by an attorney receives a settlement that is, on average, twice as much as the settlement received by someone with similar injuries who is unrepresented. So it makes financial sense to hire a lawyer, with an added bonus - you don't have to figure this stuff out.

    The insurance company has lawyers on staff; you should have one, too.


  5. The answer is YES, you are the one that is supposed to file a claim. You go through the insurance company of the person that rear-ended you. It appears that they have accepted liability already, since they fixed your friends car. Do consult with an attorney in your area, since they are the ones that know the process best and can answer any and all additional questions you may have.

    The information offered herein by NEDIM RAMIC is not formal legal advice, nor is it the formation of an attorney client relationship. In order for our firm to be considered your attorney there must be a signed agreement between the client and the firm.


  6. Have a local personal injury lawyer investigate. Avvo has a terrific "find a lawyer" tool to find an aggressive top-rated Avvo attorney with a low contingency fee. Good luck.


  7. You need to file a claim for personal injuries with the driver's insurance that rear ended your friend's car and consult with personal injury attorneys in your area about your options. Good luck.

    This information is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship between you and any attorney. Such information is intended for general informational purposes only.


  8. Since it's your bodily injury claim, you need to get involved. You should consult with a personal injury attorney in your area. That attorney will assist you in asserting a bodily injury claim against the driver that rear-ended you. You might also be entitled to reimbursement for your medical bills under your friend's insurance policy if his policy included such coverage.

    ***This response is provided solely for general information purposes and is not intended as legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.


  9. i agree with most of my colleagues. Insurance companies do not go out of their way to answer phone calls from potential claimants. On the contrary, they transfer you three or four times and hope that you get disconnected or wait for 15 to 20 minutes before someone answers the phone. Given your medical bills, do not do this case alone. Hire a local lawyer. Happy Thanksgiving and best of luck.

    This answer is provided by California Auto Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., These answers are not intended to form an attorney client relationship. Manuel Juarez. Esq., is licensed only in California. He practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, Manuel A. Juarez es licenciado solo en California.


  10. You should file a claim against the insurance of the driver who hit you. Get that info from your friend, the driver.


  11. You can submit your medical bills to your driver’s insurance company if he had Medical Payments coverage which requires his insurance company to pay your accident related medical bills up to the limits of the police coverage. That is an option for you. And of course the other driver’s insurance has the ultimate responsibility to pay the medical bills that can be proven to be related to your accident related injuries. If you currently have no symptoms of any injury you sustained in the accident and you are back to full activity without any pain or limitations of motion than you may or may not need an attorney depending on what the adverse insurance company offers you for your case over and about your medical bills and any loss of income your may have incurred. Having said that it is a good move to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn all your legal rights.


  12. You must make your own claim. With the at fault driver's insurance company. Ask your driver for the name, phone number and claim number. When you call them DO NOT give them a recorded statement. It will be used against you. Just tell them your hurt.

    You might also find out if your driver has medical payment coverage. If so you can use it to pay for some of your medical bills. Also it will have no effect on your driver's insurance.


  13. It sounds like you should get involved if you would like to have your bills paid or hire an attorney. You can file claims against both insurance companies. Your fiend's policy may have coverage for medical payment. In that case, you can submit your medical bills to them and they will pay it. Please find out if this is reimbursable to them if the other diver's insurance company pays for the same medical bills. Also, obtain the claim and adjuster's information for the other party and send them your medical bills. Insurance companies like to quickly resolve smaller cases. You can negotiate for pain and suffering as well. Good luck.


  14. Ask your friend for the claim number and the adjuster's name. Then call the adjuster to see what is going on. Do not give any other information that can be used against you. Talk to your hospital and let them know you have a claim number and it's being handled. Most hospitals would allow the collection to occur once there is a settlement. You can also file a claim with your friend's insurance company since you mentioned neither party admitted fault. Your friend might also be at fault and you can collect all your hard bills (but not pain and suffering) from his insurance company through joint and several liability. I don't know if your pain is still existing after the accident but if so, hire an attorney because you may need continued treatments.

    Not a legal advise nor it creates an attorney-client relationship.

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