What Rights Do I Have As a Car Accident Victim?

5-7 minute read | Published: March 28, 2024 | Updated: April 17, 2024

✅ Verified & Reviewed

lawyer for car accidents

A serious car accident can drastically change your life and not in a good way. But during this difficult time, it’s important for you to understand your rights so that you will not be taken advantage of.

The Rights of Car Accident Victims

If you were in a vehicular accident due to someone else’s negligence, you must know what your rights are so you can exercise them.

1. The Right Not to Make a Statement

Car accident victims are not obligated to give a statement whether oral or written, especially to insurers. The insurance adjuster is probably just looking for a chance to use anything said against you. Their questions are often designed to have victims inadvertently admit fault.  If needed, provide your statement only to the police and investigators. But do NOT admit fault.

2. The Right to Ask for Information

Drivers involved in a road accident can and should exchange information with one another including their names, contact number/email, address, license plate number and insurance details.

Moreover, you’ll need other pieces of information to build your case such as photos of the accident scene, photos of the damage and a police report. You should report the accident to the authorities as soon as possible and ask for a copy of the police report as you’ll need this when filing a claim.

Police report

3. The Right to Pursue Damages

You have the right to seek compensation from whoever is liable for the accident. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may file an insurance claim from the at-fault party’s insurer or from the car manufacturer if it’s a factory defect that contributed to the crash.

There’s a statute of limitation for filing a lawsuit which may range from 1-5 years depending on your state. After that time, a claim cannot go forward.

You may receive damages for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Non-economic damages

Besides your hospital bills and property damage, you may also have to deal with other financial burdens, such as buying a new phone or renting a car.

How to Protect Your Rights as a Victim of a Car Accident

You must safeguard your legal rights especially if another driver is at fault for the car accident. Here are some key steps you need to take:

1. Document the Scene

If your injuries (or that of your passengers) are severe, you need to call 911 immediately. Otherwise, you should contact the police particularly if there are any injuries or damage to the vehicle/s. The officers will draw up an accident report which will be used as evidence of the incident. Ask for a copy of this report when filing your claim for damages.

Car accident injuries

2. Take Photos

Use your phone to take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and damage to your vehicle.

3.  Exchange Contact Details

Get the contact information of the driver (such as their name, mobile number and address). You should also get the details of their insurance provider particularly if they’re at fault.

4. Don’t Admit Fault

First of all, don’t give a statement to the insurance companies – yours and theirs. Anything you say can be taken against you. You may have to give your statement to the police and this is fine so as long as you don’t admit fault even if you think the accident was your fault.

interview witnesses of the accident

5. Don’t Trust the At-Fault Party

They may try to convince you not to call the police. They may tell you the matter can be handled between the two of you. Consider this a red flag.

6. Get Medical Treatment for Your Injuries

Even if you don’t think your injuries warrant a trip to the Emergency Room, you should at least see a doctor if you experience any discomfort or pain. Sometimes, the injuries from a car accident only manifest after a day or two.

7. Keep All Medical Records, Receipts and Expenses

These things are solid evidence to strengthen your case. Moreover, you need to keep track of your bills and expenses so you’ll know how much you should be compensated for.

8. Take Your Car to a Repair Shop

Once you’ve gotten the medical treatment you need, you should take your car to a repair shop so that you can get some repair estimates. Go to at least 2-3 mechanics to get a better idea of how much the property damage is worth.

9. Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

If the accident was severe and you suffered significant injury/property damage as a result, you should hire a lawyer right away.

lawyer negotiations

An experienced car accident lawyer will help protect your rights, build a strong case for you and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to make sure you get a fair settlement.

Category: Your Legal Rights