What To Do When You’re A Passenger In An Auto Accident

Published on 05/26/2022 by Monica Burneikis

If you are a passenger that has been injured in an automobile accident, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm and get yourself and the other vehicle occupants to a position of safety. Take a deep breath and focus on moving the vehicle or yourself to the side of the roadway if you can.

The next priority is to call 9-1-1. If you are not severely injured, use the local non-emergency line. Finally, make sure to obtain all relevant personal contact, vehicle registration, and insurance information from the other involved parties if you are able to.

5 Steps To Take If You Are A Passenger In An Auto Accident

Depending on how injured you are or whether other safety factors are in play (a car on fire, multi-car accident, a busy intersection or highway, etc.) the first step is to get cars and people off the road if possible. If you are able to, try to help keep everyone calm. Take pictures of the scene, the vehicles, and the people involved, and record all contact, license, and insurance information. If anyone has suffered injuries, be sure to call the police and emergency personnel. If injuries are involved, the police will take a report, which is key to recording what transpired.

Here are 5 steps to take if you are a passenger in an auto accident to ensure your physical wellbeing is assessed and that your rights are protected.

Get to a safe spot                                                

After an accident, try to move the vehicle or the parties involved to a position of safety. Accidents on roadways often lead to subsequent impacts when vehicles approach that is not paying attention or are trying to see what happened and, in doing so, take their eyes of the roadway. If you are able to, ask the driver and other parties to move the vehicles to the side of the roadway. If the accident occurred on a freeway or expressway, suggest the vehicles be moved to a less busy adjacent road. If the vehicles are not able to be moved, put up flares or reflective triangles or cones. Many auto parts stores sell emergency kits that include these and other items. Keep an emergency kit in the trunk or rear of your vehicle.    

Contact the authorities

According to California Vehicle Code section 20008, the driver of any vehicle (or a representative of that driver) involved in a car accident must, within 24 hours, make a written report of the crash to the California Highway Patrol or to the police department of the city where the accident occurred. 

Even minor car accidents can lead to significant injuries or long-term injury side effects. A police report is an essential part of the insurance reimbursement or personal injury claims puzzle down the road.

Seek immediate medical attention

Post-accident adrenaline and potential shock can block the physical body from feeling the true effects of an accident. This is why so many people report “feeling fine” immediately after an accident only to later discover they have actual injuries ranging from minor or moderate whiplash or whiplash-related injuries to severe breaks, lacerations, or internal injuries.

You do not know you have nothing to worry about until your healthcare provider gives you the green light. If you are bleeding or even just feel sore, head to the nearest urgent care facility or emergency room. If you are confident your injuries are minor, contact your physician’s office and let them know you were a passenger in a car accident. Odds are they will schedule an appointment for you. Even if the accident occurs in the evening or over a weekend, it is important to get immediate medical attention; internal injuries or head injuries can mask themselves for a while, but a delay in care may worsen the ultimate outcome.

If you are a passenger in an auto accident contact insurance carriers

Even if you are a passenger in a vehicle that has been involved in an accident, if you have your own auto insurance, you should contact your carrier to report the accident. They will provide you with expert advice on how to proceed. In some cases, they may take over from there to support your cause and to facilitate negotiations with the driver’s or other vehicle’s insurance carrier. However, keep in mind that all automobile policies have maximum pay-out limits. Therefore, the more people who were injured or filed a claim after the accident, or the more severe the injuries are, the less of the total payout amount will come your way. In this situation, it is imperative you retain a personal injury lawyer who can advocate on your behalf. An experienced personal injury lawyer will support you to make sure the insurance companies acknowledge your right to be compensated for your injuries.

Schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer

In almost all cases, the responsible party’s insurance company (whether the responsible party is the driver of the vehicle you were in or another vehicle involved in the accident) will barely pay out enough to cover your immediate medical expenses, let alone other losses related to missed time from work, help with childcare expenses, and the costs of long-term medical treatment, therapy or support needed in the future. Taking a proactive stance and consulting with a personal injury lawyer is a no-obligation way to get free expert advice and ensure someone is on your side.

The attorneys at Burneikis Law do not take cases unless we feel they are legitimate. The information gleaned via a few free consultations can go a long way towards helping you get the support you need. If we feel you have a case and are entitled to compensation to cover medical expenses and other damages, we will let you know. Our attorneys make sure to take the heavy lifting off your shoulders. We will do everything we can to ensure your rights are fully protected.

Keep in mind that filing a personal injury claim does not necessarily mean you will be dragged through a long or arduous courtroom journey. Those types of cases are rare. Most of the time, professional representation means you will have a personal advocate that takes over the difficult and confusing parts of pursuing a personal injury claim, and gains you a settlement that covers your accident-related costs today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Contact Burneikis Law To Schedule Your Free, No-Obligation Consultation

Were you a passenger in a recent auto accident? Contact Burneikis Law, (510) 328-3238, to schedule a consultation. Burneikis Law was founded on the basic principle of providing quality representation and careful consideration to each and every client. We look forward to showing you what a difference it makes when you benefit from human-to-human legal representation.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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