Omaha Passenger Injury Lawyer
When auto manufacturers test their vehicles, they often focus the bulk of their safety measures on protecting the driver. However, passengers are just as likely to be injured in a serious collision, often more so if the vehicle lacks sideairbags or is struck from the side in a T-bone. In any event, passengers have the same right to file for proper compensation after a collision.
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But insurance companies can be just as dismissive of passenger claims as they are of driver claims. Working with a skilled Omaha passenger injury attorney could be your best option for receiving the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and recover comfortably. At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our legal team can utilize a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skill to advocate on your behalf. If you were injured by a negligent driver as a passenger, reach out to our firm at (402) 810-7232.
Following a vehicle collision, you may be left confused about how to cover your medical bills and long-term treatment. Typically, only the drivers exchange insurance information, but you have the same right to a claim, no matter which driver caused your injuries. Drivers have a duty to act responsibly and protect everyone on the road from a collision. If the driver of your vehicle or another driver caused your injuries through an act of negligence or reckless behavior, then you are well within your rights to file a claim against them.
In order to receive compensation for your injuries, you should get the insurance details of both drivers involved in the collision to determine which insurance policies apply to you, even if you were in a motorcycle crash. In some cases, if you are covered under the driver’s insurance policy, such as when you live in the same household, you may have access to their MedPay or uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage policies (UM/UIM).
In Nebraska, you are entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver, even if that turns out the be the person whose car you were riding in. Many people are hesitant to file a claim against someone they know, but remember, you aren’t blaming your friend for the accident, you are just establishing a legal justification for collecting damages from their insurance company.
If you are a friend of the driver or you were using a rideshare service, then you may be able to file a third-party claim with their insurance company. Speeding, tailgating, texting, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other types of careless driving are considered forms of negligence in Nebraska.
When seeking damages from an insurance company, it’s essential to calculate the full extent of your injuries and the long-term costs that will be required. Your personal injury attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to get you the proper compensation to cover every aspect of your care. To assist your attorneys in this process, it’s a good idea to keep records of all medical treatment. This may include:
- Ambulance costs
- Medical testing
- Surgical treatments
- Medications required for healing
- Mental health assistance
- Long-term rehabilitation
There are several options available to passengers after a collision. Auto insurance in Nebraska can include three types of coverage, each of which may apply to a passenger:
- General Liability: This is the standard auto insurance policy every driver is required to have. Under these policies, you can file a claim up to the policy’s limit for your injuries as a passenger. While most drivers have standard policies that only meet the legal minimum, commercial drivers, such as truck drivers and rideshare drivers, can have extensive policies that can cover your injuries. As a passenger, you may be able to file a claim against both the driver who hit you and the driver of your vehicle under these policies.
- UM/UIM Coverage: UM/UIM is required by Nebraska state law and applies when the at-fault driver does not have any insurance (uninsured) or does not have enough coverage to cover your injuries (underinsured). If another driver hit you, then you may be covered under the UM/UIM policy of the vehicle you were in. However, if the driver of your vehicle is at fault, then you would have to file against your own UM/UIM policy. Nebraska law does not allow UM/UIM policies to be stacked in a case, meaning you can only be paid by one policy after a crash.
- MedPay/PIP Coverage: While this coverage is optional, it can provide immediate funds to victims of a vehicle collision. If you have MedPay as a part of your own auto insurance policy, then you can immediately use this policy to cover your injuries at an emergency room. Even if you do not have the policy yourself, your driver’s policy may cover you, but that may vary. Sometimes MedPay only applies to family members of the driver; in other cases, it will apply to all passengers of their vehicle. You should speak to an attorney to review which policy applies.
Receiving proper compensation as a passenger can be difficult, however, if you do not have legal representation. Auto insurance companies are extremely resistant to providing full coverage for accident victims, whether or not they were passengers. Even though you had no control over the crash, you may find the company offering you a lowball settlement that hardly covers your treatment. But, if you work with a lawyer, he may be able to get you the compensation you need to recover comfortably.
You should always seek medical treatment, even if you think your injuries are minor. Doctors can properly assess if you have a brain injury, nerve damage, or internal injuries that you may not have noticed due to shock or adrenaline. If you are worried about covering the costs of your medical bills, then you should always remember that your claim can compensate you for these costs.
Even though passengers are rarely at fault in car crashes, they may suffer injuries that can cause long-term pain and suffering or even wrongful death. Some of the more common injuries passengers experience include:
- Neck injuries: These can occur in many types of accidents, but they are most likely to happen when the car is rear-ended. Whiplash and severe neck strain may result when the head and neck are quickly jerked back and forth. Damage to the disks in the neck can cause chronic and excruciating pain.
- Loss of limbs: Amputation injuries can include the victim’s fingers, hands, toes, feet, arms, or legs. Although great strides have been made in prosthetic limb technology, these injuries will entail a dramatic reduction in the victim’s quality of life.
- Head and brain injuries: With new research, scientist are becoming more aware of the long-term consequences of brain injuries. Car accidents often involve passengers hitting their heads on windows, seats, the steering wheel, or other objects. Although the effects of a traumatic brain injury may not be apparent right away, symptoms include reduced intellectual capacity, headaches, insomnia, nausea, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
- Broken bones may include ribs, hip, pelvis, tibia, fibula, arms, and femur. Broken bone injuries take a long time to heal, and the rehabilitation can be very extensive. Victims may never fully cover from fractures, leading to a lifetime of chronic pain.
- Burn injuries can result both from fire or chemical contact or exposure. Complications that can occur with burn injuries include infection, septic shock, fluid loss, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis. The mental and physical toll of burn injuries includes skin grafts, scarring, and an extensive recovery period.
- Scarring and disfigurement: Shattered glass, fires, and chemical spills that may occur during a car crash can lead to lacerations and significant scarring and disfigurement. This can be devastating to a person’s self-image and their overall quality of life.
- Back injuries are a frequent result of car crashes. Because the back is essential to personal mobility, chronic pain that results from sprained backs, herniated discs, or fractured vertebrae that may result from an automobile accident can be devastating.
One of the most important elements of an auto accident claim in Nebraska is comparative fault. Under this law, multiple parties can be considered at fault in a collision. This fault is determined by a jury that reviews the facts of each case: accident reports, witness testimonies, expert opinions, and any additional evidence. If a claimant is found to have 50% or more fault for a collision, then that person would be barred from receiving compensation.
With regard to passengers, it extremely rare for a passenger to be assigned any fault for a collision, but it is possible. If a passenger was distracting a driver or was not wearing a seatbelt, then they may be assigned some fault for their injuries. These situations are more common with motorcycle passengers, who may make the vehicle unstable by moving around and contributing to the crash. As such, the total amount of money you receive in a claim could be reduced by the amount of fault you have. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 for your injuries but assigned 10% of the fault, then you would only receive $90,000 of the verdict.
But it is important to note that comparative fault primarily applies during a personal injury trial. Given that nine out of ten claims are settled out of court, these laws may not impact your claim. However, the legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. prepares each case as if it is going to trial and will assess liability before negotiations to ensure you have the best chance of receiving the maximum available settlement or jury verdict for your injuries.
Oftentimes, drivers are the focus of auto accident claims. They are the ones that are expected to share insurance details and contact attorneys, but passengers have the same exact same rights. That is why we at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. are dedicated to providing sound legal advice to all accident victims, including passengers. If a negligent driver caused your injuries, our lead Omaha car accident attorney can thoroughly investigate your case, review every available insurance policy, and advocate for full compensation for your injuries. To get started on a claim, call our office at (402) 505-8234. We offer every potential client a FREE consultation and we don’t get paid until we win your claim.
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