If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident, your legal case is usually easier than for either driver. This is because you do not have to prove liability to be compensated for your injuries as a passenger – only the drivers have to do that. One or both of the drivers was at fault, and you will be compensated by one of their insurance policies, or possibly both.
If the car accident involved two vehicles, one of the drivers will be liable. It is almost impossible for a two-car accident to not have at least one driver held liable.
If the accident only involved one vehicle, then the driver usually is held liable. Generally, if the single driver struck something while driving, such as a tree, they usually did or did not do something that was negligent. But occasionally there are exceptions. It is possible for a deer to run into the road and the car to hit it, resulting in your injuries.
A passenger injury claim usually proceeds like any auto accident claim. The only exception is if two drivers are involved. In this case, you would make a claim against both drivers. You would want to get the insurance information for both drivers and file claims with each insurance company. There are exceptions: If it is obvious one of the drivers was not negligent, such as in a clear cut, rear end accident, it would generally not be necessary to file a claim against the driver of the car in front.
After you have finished your medical treatments, you will then need to work with the insurance companies involved to settle the claim.
There’s something especially terrifying about being a passenger involved in a car accident. While collisions are always scary, your lack of agency only adds to your feelings of helplessness when you’re a passenger. Questions about insurance coverage, liability, injury treatment and legal rights may instantly spring to mind. Amidst the chaos of the accident, it’s often difficult to advocate for your best interests.
After the smoke has cleared and you’ve left the scene of the wreck, you may begin to wonder about your rights to compensation. If you sustained serious injuries, for instance, are your medical bills covered by the insurance company? What about the medications you need to fill at the pharmacy – are those covered? In some cases, victims need to take time off of work to recuperate after a crash. It’s hard to focus on healing when you’re not sure how you’ll keep the lights on while you’re out of work.
What To Do If You’re Injured In A Car Accident As A Passenger
Car accidents are sometimes very obviously the fault of one particular driver. For example, most rear end collisions are the fault of the driver in the back. After all, it’s very difficult to cause a rear end crash as the first vehicle at an intersection. In such incidents where fault is obvious, it’s a good idea to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
In some cases, though, you may not fully understand which driver is at fault. If that’s the case, you’ll want to file a claim through the insurance company of the driver whose care you were riding in at the time of the wreck. If they have personal injury protection or medical payments (also called MedPay) coverage, the insurance company will cover the costs of medical bills regardless of which driver was at fault.
This is the best option for passengers injured in car accidents. Typically, you’ll receive speedy reimbursement for your medical costs and your own car insurance policy rates won’t change. Unfortunately, though, MedPay and personal injury protection coverage is not required in some states.
Compensation For Passengers Injured In A Car Accident
In most car accident cases, the compensation available to a passenger in a car accident is the same as the driver, or anyone else involved in the accident. That is to say, a passenger injured in a car accident is legally able to collect money from the at fault driver for any medical bills, missed work, or pain & suffering that may have occurred as a result of the crash.
The only time where passengers injured in car accidents may be entitled to more compensation than just the driver or other passengers is if certain conditions are met. These conditions will vary depending on the laws of the state that one lives in, but generally there needs to be a showing of gross negligence.
Gross negligence can be defined as either: intentional acts by the party who caused the car accident, reckless acts by the person who caused the car accident, or intentional acts that are so dangerous to others that they may be considered negligent even though it would not meet the usual standard.
Intentional Acts By The Party Who Caused The Car Accident
If a passenger was injured in a car accident, and the passenger can show that the at fault driver intentionally aimed to cause injury or death, then a passenger injured in a car accident may be able to collect much more money from the at fault driver. However, if a passenger was merely hit by a careless driver and it cannot be shown that any intent was involved with causing injury, then they would not be able to collect any more money than another passenger, or the driver.
Reckless Acts By The Person Who Caused The Car Accident
If an at fault driver was acting in a reckless manner, such as driving drunk, speeding, or drag racing, it might also be possible for those passengers to recover far more money from the at fault driver than just what a driver or another passenger could. It will depend on the laws of the state where it occurred, as some states follow a contributory negligence standard, which limits how much one can collect for pain and suffering.
Intentional Acts That Are So Dangerous To Others They May Be Considered Negligent Even Though It Would Not Meet The Usual Standard
Some states will allow passengers to collect an excessive amount of money if the at fault driver intentionally hurt them, even though there was no intent to hurt others. For instance, if a car accident occurred and one passenger went through the windshield and ended up with severe injuries that required multiple surgeries, they could be entitled to more money than just what the other passengers could receive. This is because they may have a cause of action against the at fault driver, even though it would not meet the usual standard for gross negligence.
Common Injuries to Passengers In Car Accidents
Below is a list of some of the most common injuries suffered by passengers in car accidents:
- Whiplash: Whiplash is a common injury and is usually caused when the head and the torso are jerked in opposite directions. This can be caused by sudden deceleration or acceleration, which whips the head backwards and then forwards again in quick succession.
- Concussion: A concussion is an injury to the brain that causes temporary loss of function. This can be caused by an impact to the head or sudden deceleration causing the brain to rotate in the skull.
- Brain Damage: A concussion suffered in a car accident can also cause internal bleeding and/or bruising within the skull, which causes damage to brain cells leading to long term problems with memory function, personality changes and so on.
- Internal injury: Broken bones, ruptured spleens and livers, organ damage etc.
- Back Injuries and Spinal Cord Damage: Depending on the position of passengers at the time of impact (for example if they were thrown around or not wearing seatbelts), passengers may suffer a variety of upper and lower back injuries after a car accident, some causing spinal cord damage. This can result in paralysis, loss of feeling and function below the injury site which often requires long term medical care.
Is Pain & Suffering Compensation Available For a Passenger in a Car Accident?
The pain and suffering that you suffer in a car accident is not purely physical. You are also dealing with the mental stress of being hurt in an auto accident, the extent to which your injuries will impact your future activities and profession, and the immediate disruption to your life caused by missed time at work or school. All these things are part of the pain and distress experienced by passengers in car accident claims in the same way they would be another driver.
As such, any pain & suffering compensation in a car accident settlement would be the same for a passenger as it would be for another driver.
The question of whether pain and suffering is available in a car accident claim depends on the type of injuries you have suffered in your accident, and the extent to which those injuries are expected to impact your life in the near and long term.
Who Do I Sue If I was a Passenger In a Car Accident?
If you are a passenger in a car that is in an accident and you are injured, you may wonder about filing a claim for your injuries. With sky high medical costs and not being able to work, you probably will look for compensation to assist with your recovery. But who should you file the claim with?
As a passenger in a car accident, you have a few options to obtain compensation depending on the case. Below are some things to remember if you want to file a claim as a passenger in a car accident.
In some cases, you may have been injured because of actions taken by your own driver. Whether they are a friend, family member, or just an acquaintance, the dynamic can make it difficult for some to take the legal action they should. This is complicated further when multiple passengers are injured in the wreck.
In most car accidents involving injured passengers, the at fault driver is the person who is responsible for paying for damages they caused. This can be the driver of the car you were a passenger in, or the accident could be caused by another car/driver. In either case, whoever is found at fault on the poilce report would be the individual you would try to collect from as an injured passenger.
So if you were in the car with a friend or family member and it was their fault, you would file a claim with their auto insurance company. If the driver of the car you’re in wasn’t at fault, for example, you were in a friends car and were struck from behind at a stop light, causing whiplash and a concussion, you would file a claim against the other driver.
Filing A Claim Against the Driver of the Car You Were In
The driver is responsible for your safety when you get into his car. If you are hurt in an accident, they are responsible for using their auto insurance to cover your bills.
Most car insurance policy have a section of coverage for passengers that are injured. You may file a claim against the car river and get your medical expenses and lost work time covered.
But this type of coverage is often quite low. If you have more serious injuries above a few thousand dollars, you may need to consider other options.
Filing a Claim Against the Other Driver
If the driver of the car you were in was 100% at fault, you might not be able to file a claim against the other driver. But if both drivers have fault in the crash, you may be able to file a claim against the other driver.
But to obtain compensation from the other river, you have to prove they share liability for the accident. You will need to show evidence, possibly witness testimony and more. This process is identical to what you would do if you were driving and were hit by another car.
Suing the Driver for More Money
If you suffered more serious injuries, you could want to sue the driver for more than his insurance covers. This process can take a long time, but it can be very rewarding. If you need long term care and treatment for serious injuries, it could be your best option.
Whether or not you can do this depends on how you are related to the driver. If he is an immediate member of the family, you may be an insured individual on that policy. You cannot sue in this case.
But if the driver was a friend, you can file a lawsuit to get more compensation.
Can A Passenger in a Car Accident Ever Be Found at Fault?
In most accidents, the passenger cannot be at fault, but there are a few exceptions.
If you get into the car with a driver you know is drunk, the insurance company may dismiss your claim. You could be held responsible for deciding to get into the car with someone you know is intoxicated.
You would need to talk to a good attorney in this case, because ‘knowing’ the driver was drunk leaves a lot for interpretation. A good attorney still may be able to get your claim covered by the insurance company.
Filing a Claim with Your Own Insurance Company as a Passenger
You may not think to file a car crash claim with your auto insurer, but it’s another option for passengers hurt in accidents. Even though they weren’t driving at the time of the wreck, passengers can file claims with their own insurance company so long as they have MedPay or personal injury protection coverage.
The choice to file with your own insurance company doesn’t come without its downside, though. Your policy rates may go up, and in some cases, your coverage limits may not be enough to reimburse you fully. Still, this is a good option for anyone who is eager to get compensation for their medical damages fast.
Another good reason to file with your own insurance company? Uninsured motorists. If your accident was caused by an uninsured motorist, or if you were traveling in an uninsured car when the collision occurred, your own auto coverage may be the best option. Uninsured motorist coverage is required for this exact reason, and can help you shoulder the financial impact of the crash a little more easily.
Should I Hire a Lawyer For an Injured Passenger Settlement?
The reality is that every car accident is different. Averages only tell one side of the story, and depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to far more than what most victims receive. A good car accident lawyer can help with this. They can make sure you’re getting a fair settlement as a passenger in a car accident because they know exactl ywhat to include, and how much to ask for in pain & suffering compensation.
Lawsuit Info Center can connect you with a car accident lawyer in your area now. To get started, simply click here or dial 877-810-4067. Many car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means no legal fees are necessary up front. Instead, you’re charged only if the lawyer can recover a settlement on your behalf. These attorneys often offer free consultations for new clients. Before you decide your next move, it’s smart to discuss your options with professionals who negotiate car accident settlements for victims on a daily basis.