INJURED IN CAR ACCIDENT BY A FRIEND?
Injuries caused by car accidents are tough to handle, especially if you’re the passenger and a friend or loved one is the driver. The first thing many people do is panic, although panicking is understandable, one should still take the necessary precautions. You may consider getting as much information at the scene of the accident as possible, such as the full name and contact information of the opposite party, their insurance company as well as your friend’s insurance company, license plate numbers, names and contact information of potential witnesses and of course, photos.
If you were the passenger and you sustained an injury, you may consider bringing a claim for your injuries against the driver-friend that is at fault. Bringing a legal action against a friend may be challenging as it can potentially hurt your relationship with them, but your claim would be against your friend’s insurance company if they are insured, not your friend directly. Insurance companies generally try to settle the case outside of court, but you should always consult an attorney before accepting a settlement offer because insurance companies could try to offer less than what your claim is worth. If you incurred medical expenses, insurance companies may try to settle as soon as possible to pay less, but because you are unaware of any future medical conditions that could develop over time due to the injuries sustained by the accident, you may incur more fees after your settlement. This means the insurance company would no longer be responsible for those expenses. If your friend does not have insurance, you should at least consult a personal injury attorney for advice.
If your friend is not at fault, you may advise them to seek an attorney and offer to help as a witness to the accident which would greatly help them if they are being sued by the other party. In Illinois, payment of damages is done by the driver at fault so only the insurance of the driver found responsible for the accident would pay damages. Fault is assessed by circumstances in which the accident occurred, such as which party was negligent in driving. If your friend is considered responsible but there were other factors such as bad road conditions, poor weather, the injured person was on the wrong path, and other intervening acts, they could affect his level of responsibility. The other party may not have been injured or the injuries may have predated the accident and they may be exaggerating the injuries to extort money. If the accident was a reaction to another accident, your friend may not the be the cause of the accident and could be free from liability.
If your friend is uninsured or his insurance cannot offer a fair settlement offer, the case could proceed to court. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury runs after two years from the date of the accident which means if you do not file a claim within two years of the accident, you could be barred from bringing any type of claim. You should bring your claim as soon as possible or your friend could use this to argue that you or the colliding party cannot legally bring the claim against him should you decide to proceed.
Remember, always seek legal advice before taking any steps such as meeting insurance companies, accepting or offering settlements, agreeing or commenting on any questions not posed by your own attorney, requests or demands, and any other type of legal work.
If you have been a victim of a personal injury, please do not hesitate to call us at 888.GO.Hammer!