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What Are My Rights as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
An Overview

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If you’re a passenger in a car accident, you may be unsure if you’re entitled to compensation.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers have been helping passengers in car accidents understand their rights and get adequate compensation for close to three decades.

Here’s what you should know after being involved in a vehicular accident as a passenger.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Passengers injured in a car crash can seek compensation.
  • The first thing you should do is get medical help. Then you should hire an attorney to file a claim on your behalf.
  • There are several compensations you can get after a car accident.
  • If you sue a family member, they likely won’t be responsible for paying the damages.

Identifying the Party at Fault

woman in a car accident

A passenger is normally not responsible for an accident and may get compensation no matter who’s at fault.

However, the insurance company won’t accept your claim in some instances, such as if the driver of the vehicle you were in was under the influence. If you sustained injuries as a passenger in a vehicle accident, you have to decide whose insurance you’ll file a claim against. Your driver or the third party.

Your best bet after being injured in a car accident is to hire a personal injury lawyer.  A lawyer will explain your rights and options after the investigators determine who’s the responsible party.

The following parties can be responsible for an auto accident:

  • Your driver — If the driver of your vehicle is responsible, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance pays for your injuries [1]. If the driver’s insurance is insufficient, you can file a lawsuit to get compensation.
  • The driver of another vehicle — If the other driver is at fault, you can file an insurance claim with their insurance company. If their insurance is insufficient, you can also file a lawsuit.
  • Multiple drivers share liability — If both drivers share liability, you can file a claim with both of their insurances. 
  • National and local authorities — The authorities are in charge of maintaining the roads in good condition. If a pothole is reported, but the authority doesn’t have enough time to repair it, they won’t be held legally responsible, and you’ll have to pay medical bills and other expenses yourself.
  • Vehicle manufacturer — If you’re injured because of faulty vehicle equipment, you can pursue compensation from the manufacturer.
  • Pedestrian — If the accident happened because of a pedestrian, they could be responsible for the compensation.

What Compensation You Can Expect

documenting a car accident

The amount of compensation you may expect depends on the type and severity of your injuries. You can get general damages that compensate for pain and suffering and life-changing injuries, such as loss of function that results from car accidents.

There are also special damages, which cover losses you had because of serious injuries. These losses include:

  • Lost wages 
  • Medical expenses 
  • Medical equipment 
  • Care claims, such as expenses for hiring a nurse
  • Travel expenses to and from hospital appointments 

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

man writing about a car accident

You should take certain steps when you sustain injuries in a car accident:

  • Get medical treatment — You should seek medical help even if you feel fine or have only minor injuries. That way, you will know that you are okay. Also, you will have proof of the severity of your injuries.
  • Hire a car accident lawyer — A personal injury attorney will advise you on the next steps to take and work with the authorities. An attorney will also check all the evidence, such as photographs of the accident location and vehicle, eyewitness statements, insurance companies’ details for all parties, and more.
  • File a separate personal injury claim — The lawyer will inform the parties involved that you plan to file a claim. The claim can be filed through:
    • The other driver’s insurance policy
    • Your driver’s insurance 
    • Your own car or health insurance 
  • Negotiate a settlement — The lawyer can negotiate with the driver’s insurance company or your own insurance company to get you compensation.
  • Reach a settlement or file a lawsuit.
  • If personal injury claims go to trial, a judge and jury make a decision on the amount of settlement the victims of car incidents are entitled to. 

Suing a Family Member

attorney and judge in a court roomBeing a passenger in a car accident is more complicated when a driver at fault is your friend or family. 

In these situations, you shouldn’t feel guilty for making an injury claim, especially if you’ve suffered injuries that will leave a life-long impact or limit your mobility and result in high medical expenses.

You’ll be compensated through the driver’s insurance policy, so you can rest assured your family member won’t struggle financially. 

If your driver was at fault, they’ll have to pay an increased rate for a car insurance policy, regardless of whether you file a claim or not.

Time Limit for Filing a Claim

two men conversingIn the US, the time limit for filing a car accident lawsuit is two years.

However, if the injury victims are under 18 years of age, they have 2 years after turning 18 to file a lawsuit.

There are some exceptions to this rule. If you want to file a claim against a municipality, the statute of limitations is 1 year.  Consider consulting an attorney who can advise you on how much time you have to file your claim.

Note: Insurance companies, no matter if it’s your own insurer or the other driver’s insurer, may try to avoid paying the compensation or pay as little as possible.

For this reason, you should file a lawsuit after you have sufficient evidence and you’re fully recovered, so you can get damages for all medical costs.

Related Articles:

FAQ

What are My Rights as an Injured Passenger in a Car Crash?

As an injured passenger in a car crash, you’re entitled to compensation for internal injuries, physical pain, medical bills, physical therapy, and more.

Can I Sue if I was a Passenger Involved in a Car Accident?

Yes, you can sue if you were a passenger involved in a car accident. You can file a claim, and if you can’t get compensation through the other driver’s insurance, you can file a lawsuit.

Hire a Trustworthy Lawyer

If you’ve been involved in a car accident as a passenger, you’re entitled to compensation no matter if you have minor or severe injuries. You can receive compensation for medical expenses, personal property damages, lost income, and more.

Injured passengers have to be aware of the laws in their state and the time frame for filing the claim. An experienced lawyer will help you with every aspect of the process while you focus on recovering from sustained injuries. 

Don’t hesitate to contact Schmidt & Clark and schedule your free case evaluation to get the compensation you deserve. 


References:

1.) https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/personal-injury-protection-pip.asp 

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