Webb Law Centre PLLC
What Are My Rights As A Passenger In A Collision?
A car crash is one of the scariest and most stressful situations we, as drivers, can experience. But what about the other people in the car at the time of the collision? Passengers in car crashes are often overlooked, even though they are injured just as bad as the driver or sometimes even more severely.
If you are a passenger in a vehicle during an auto collision, you often have an advantage when it comes to making a claim. You will not be required to prove who was at fault because one of the drivers will be assigned liability.
When the driver in a car crash gets injured, there is a possibility that the court finds each driver responsible for the collision, limiting the driver’s claim. For instance, if the court rules each party 50 percent responsible for the crash, each driver would be entitled to recover no more than half of their losses.
The passenger is often able to recover the full amount since they were not driving at the time the collision occurred, they were not at fault.
Who is liable for your passenger injury?
There is not a straight answer as to who you will file your claim against. Depending on what type of collision occurred will determine the party you would be filing your claim against.
If the car crash did not involve another vehicle, for example, the driver you are riding with slams into a pole, you would make a claim against the insurance of the driver of the car you were riding with. If the crash involved another vehicle, things start to get a little complex.
When a passenger is injured in an accident that involves two vehicles, the passenger has the option to make claims against the insurance policies for both drivers. In this specific situation, there may be some disagreement over liability between the insurance companies causing a delay in the passenger’s settlement.
If it is clear that one of the drivers did not cause the collision, for example, one of the driver’s hits a parked car in a parking lot, your claim would need to be against the driver whose car was moving.
If it is found that both drivers were at fault for the crash, it would need to be determined how much each driver’s insurance is liable for by using the practice of comparative negligence.
Passengers have had to seek compensation from as many as three different insurance policies in many cases. The insurance companies will go back and forth and try to place the blame on anyone but their client. During this process, the injured passenger has medical bills piling up, making them feel tempted to accept a low offer. This is risky because if you do accept partial recovery from one company, the other insurance companies will start to shift liability to the party you accepted money from. If you accepted money from your own personal injury policy, the other insurance companies will use that as fuel to argue that you as the passenger had contribution to your own injuries.
You may also be able to file a claim against your insurance policy if you have personal injury protection insurance.
What happens if I am not the only passenger?
Keep in mind the more passengers involved in a collision; the more complicated matters can get. Oftentimes, multiple passengers are injured in both vehicles which means it is likely the cost of all injuries will exceed policy limits. There will be various people with claims seeking compensation from a relatively small amount of money.
Remember, insurance adjusters are trained to do everything possible to avoid paying out the maximum amount of the policy.
It is also very likely that someone in the group of injured passengers will have legal representation giving them more leverage against the insurance company. Since this victim poses a greater legal danger to the insurance company, they have better odds at recovering a disproportionate share of the money. If this does happen, deserving claims could go unpaid because the insurance company already gave all of the money to another injured party leaving your injuries uncompensated.
There are situations when only one of the drivers involved in the collision has insurance. This can turn a simple car collision into a nightmare. The good news is, in the event that you are a passenger in either car, know you have the right to file a claim against the defendant’s insurance company.
Why you should seek legal advice if you are injured as a passenger in a car collision
One of the most important things to know when it comes to filing a claim for a personal injury is how insurance companies are designed to work. The insurance company is supposed to compensate the injured party when a party has been found to be at fault. Unfortunately, this will not be as easy as it sounds. Insurance companies are known to fight you every step of the way if you do not accept the low-ball offer that is initially extended to you.
If you were riding as a passenger and were involved in a car crash, it is best to hire a personal injury attorney to look out for your best interests and take on the task of dealing with the insurance companies. Without experienced legal representation, you will not have leverage with the insurance company and no way to prove liability if you try to go to court.
If you are successful with your personal injury claim, you may be able to receive compensation for the following:
- Lost wages
- Hospital costs
- Doctor fees
- Therapy bills
- Cost of medical devices
- Pain and suffering
- Other losses