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What to Do After a Car Accident Caused by a Friend or Family Member

December 20, 2023

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Car accidents don’t discriminate when it comes to occupants suffering injuries. Occupants can be seriously harmed whether they, their family members, or their friends were driving at the time of the crashes.

Most victims aren’t reluctant to file claims against negligent drivers in other vehicles in order to recoup some of their accident-related expenses. But when victims were passengers in vehicles driven by people close to them, they may be much less likely to pursue compensation due to fear of financially burdening their family members or friends.

If you’re hurt in a crash that was caused by someone close to you, it’s important to know what to do to protect your health and rights to compensation.

What Steps Should You Take After a Crash Caused by a Friend or Family Member?

Experiencing a car crash is always a distressing event, and it can be even more complicated and emotionally charged when a friend or family member is responsible for it. In these situations, it's important to balance the impact of the crash on your personal relationship with the money you’ll need to aid in your recovery.

Here are important steps to follow after a crash caused by a friend or family member:

  • Ensure Everyone's Safety: First, check if anyone is injured and call emergency services if necessary. Safety is the primary concern.
  • Remain Calm and Avoid Blame: In the immediate aftermath, it’s important to remain calm and avoid casting blame. Accidents happen, and assigning fault in the heat of the moment can damage relationships and complicate legal proceedings.
  • Document the Crash: Take pictures of the accident scene, including the positions of the vehicles, any damage, and any relevant road conditions or signs. This documentation can be crucial for insurance claims and legal considerations.
  • Exchange Information: Even though you know the other party, formally exchange contact and insurance information. This is a standard procedure for any car accident.
  • Notify Insurance Companies: Contact your insurance company to report the accident. Most policies require prompt reporting of any incident that might result in a claim.
  • Get Medical Attention: Even if you don’t think you’ve been injured, it’s wise to get a medical evaluation. Some injuries, like whiplash, may not be immediately apparent.
  • Call a Lawyer: Even the most cut-and-dried crashes involving total strangers can be legally complex. When they involve a friend or family member, it’s extremely important to have a trusted and experienced car accident lawyer on your side.
  • Understand Your Rights and Options: Educate yourself about your legal rights and options. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pursue Compensation—Regardless of Who Was Driving

Auto accidents are often extremely expensive. The combination of medical bills and lost wages can drain savings and send victims and their families on a path toward financial distress. Filing compensation claims can help victims recoup some or all of their accident-related costs, but filing a claim against a friend or relative carries a stigma in some people’s minds.

If you were hurt in a crash that was caused by someone you know, don’t hesitate to pursue the money you deserve. It’s important to remember that in most cases, victims don’t file claims directly against their friends or family. Instead, they file claims against those people’s insurance policies. Those policies are designed to protect anyone who gets harmed in accidents, regardless of their relationships to the policyholders.

Tips for Talking to the Driver If You Plan on Pursuing Compensation

One of the most difficult aspects of the aftermath of a crash caused by a friend or family member is discussing your intention to file an injury claim against them or their insurance provider. It’s a conversation that requires a delicate balance of honesty, empathy, and directness.

Following these tips can help:

  • Be Direct but Compassionate: Clearly explain the situation and your need to file a claim. Acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation and express your understanding of the emotional complexity involved.
  • Focus on the Facts: Stick to the facts of the accident and your injuries. Explain that your decision to file a claim is not a personal judgment but a necessary step for your financial and physical well-being.
  • Emphasize Insurance Involvement: Make it clear that the claim is primarily with their insurance company, not them personally. Most people have insurance exactly for these situations, and it’s the insurer who will be responsible for covering most of the costs.
  • Reassure Your Relationship: Affirm the importance of your relationship and your intention to maintain it. Emphasize that taking this step is essential for your recovery, not a reflection of your feelings towards them.
  • Listen to Their Perspective: Give the driver a chance to express their feelings and concerns. It’s important for them to feel heard during this challenging time.
  • Discuss the Next Steps: Let them know what will happen next and what they can expect from the legal process. This can help reduce uncertainty and anxiety.

Let Us Help You Navigate This Sensitive Matter

At Nurenberg Paris, we understand that filing a claim against a family member’s or friend’s insurance provider may make you feel uncomfortable. That’s why we approach such claims with the utmost sensitivity and respect for all involved parties.

You deserve compensation for what you’ve gone through, and we’ll do everything in our power to help you get it. Call our Ohio car accident attorneys today for a free consultation.

Originally published February 22, 2019.

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