Passenger in Car Accident
When a passenger is injured in a car accident caused by the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was riding in, the passenger has the right to file an accident claim against the driver’s insurance company.
Thousands of people are involved in car accidents every day. This can be a confusing and difficult experience. The situation is often further complicated when the insurance companies cannot decide who is at fault and therefore liable for the accident. However, when you are a passenger in a car accident, you know that you were not to blame and are certainly not responsible. So, what should you do if you were injured in a car accident as a passenger?
St. Louis Passenger Accident Claims
When a passenger is injured in a car accident caused by the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was riding in, the passenger has the right to file an accident claim against the driver’s insurance company. An injured passenger cannot collect from both drivers of the vehicle an amount that is higher than the total value of the claim. However, in case one owner or driver does not have sufficient coverage to cover the total damages, the passenger may be able to make a claim against the other driver.
There are, however, some cases where one of the drivers is negligent and the other is not. In such cases, a passenger accident claim is filed against the negligent driver only. If neither driver is found to be at fault, the passenger can file a No-Fault Claim or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) against the driver to get compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages. The case should generally be settled after completion of medical treatment.
Once a car accident claim is filed, the insurance company will conduct an investigation to determine the at-fault driver. They do this by reviewing police reports, obtaining statements from all involved parties, and speaking to witnesses who may have any information regarding the accident.
Types of Passenger Car Accidents Claims
There are a number of scenarios where a driver can have one or more passengers traveling with them in their vehicle. The more passengers that are in a car, the more risk there is of injury in the event of an accident. For instance, if a car is hit on the passenger side when there is no passenger, the driver may sustain only minor injuries. However, in that same accident, if there is a passenger next to the driver, more serious injuries can result.
Each scenario presents its own unique set of circumstances, thus resulting in varied passenger car accident claims. Some of the possible passenger injuries include:
- Child passenger injuries
- Passenger claim v. Friend
- Passenger claim v. Family member
- Carpool Accident
If you were a passenger that has been involved in a car accident, you may have questions about your legal rights. The Hoffmann Law Firm can help you with your injury claim.
Passenger Claim v. Friend
However, when the driver is a friend, many hurt passengers have a hard time seeking compensation. A passenger may feel guilty about this type of car accident claim but a hurt passenger should not have to bear the brunt of the financial burden the accident has caused out of guilt or fear of angering a friend.
In a typical car accident, the person who is not at fault seeks compensation from the person who is. This may or may not result in a lawsuit. Generally, a settlement is reached before a lawsuit needs to be filed.
Keep in mind that filing a personal injury claim to receive compensation for your injuries, doesn’t mean that it is a personal attack against your friend. If you have suffered serious injuries, it may be the only way to get the financial compensation you need to move forward.
Stranger Liability versus Friend Liability
For a passenger hurt in a car accident, it often makes no difference who was at fault. They have the right to seek compensation from either driver. Stranger liability refers to the driver of the other vehicle, and if they are found to be at fault for the accident, then recovering damages should be fairly easy for the passenger.
Friend liability is where many hurt passengers have a hard time seeking compensation. This is where the passenger pursues compensation from the driver of the vehicle they were riding in. A passenger may feel guilty about this type of car accident claim, however, the driver’s insurance company will cover the expense of the claim. A hurt passenger should not have to bear the brunt of the financial burden the accident has caused out of guilt or fear of angering a friend.
Case Study – The Driver Lost Control
Even in a single car accident, a passenger has the right to pursue compensation. This was the case with a female passenger in a truck where the driver lost control of the vehicle and rolled off of a bridge. The claimant was able to settle for $300,000 for a broken leg and other injuries she sustained as a result of the accident. It is important to remember that the driver is required to carry car insurance for just these kinds of unfortunate incidents.
When claiming friend liability, the insurance company may try and place some of the blame on the passenger for causing the accident. For example, if the driver was drunk, the insurance company may counter that you allowed yourself to be a passenger in the vehicle. A St. Louis accident injury lawyer can help you to show that the negligence on your friends part was something you could not predict.
Types of Passenger Accidents
A passenger in a vehicle is just as susceptible to injury in an accident as the driver is. In some cases more so, such as in a T-bone car accident where the passenger side of the vehicle bears the brunt of the impact. This can be particularly frustrating for a passenger who has no control over the situation or the way in which the driver is handling the vehicle.
Other types of car accidents that can cause serious injuries to the passengers include:
- Rear-end collisions
- Hit and run accidents
- Texting while driving
- Speeding car accidents
- Head on collision
- Following too close
Often these types of car accidents leave the victims with serious, debilitating injuries that they may have to deal with for a lifetime. They result in costly medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, therapy and other problems that create emotional and financial struggles.
Don’t let loyalty stand in the way of pursuing compensation for your injuries. Just keep in mind that the driver’s insurance is designed to protect their assets while providing a way for a victim to recover damages from an accident they were responsible for.
Standoff Between Parties in Accidents Involving Two Cars
This is a case where both drivers are at fault. This can lead to a battle on settling the liability. For instance, one insurer may argue that its driver was less responsible for causing the accident. Since neither of the insurance companies is willing to admit liability, a dispute arises. In the process, a lot of time is lost and justice is delayed.
When the case comes for hearing, the jury makes the final decision. Decisions are often 50/50 responsibility or a possible 75/25 responsibility. The first decision means that both insurance companies will provide equal compensation. The second means that the insurance company found more responsible pays 75% of the amount while the other pays 25%.
Accidents Involving More Than One Passenger
Where more than two passengers are involved, the driver’s insurance company may not settle any claims. Settling the claim gets complicated if the passengers’ claim exceeds the insurance amount of the driver or the passengers are unwilling to share the offered amount among themselves. When there is a standoff, the insurer cannot settle any of the passenger’s individual claims and the passengers may have to file a suit to settle the share.
Using Medical Payments Coverage
The passenger of a vehicle that is involved in an accident can also file a claim against the medical payments coverage of the driver’s insurance policy. This coverage is not based on liability, so you can file a claim irrespective of who was at fault. Even though this coverage will pay you for your medical expenses, it will not cover other damages such as loss of income or pain and suffering. This type of coverage has strict limits. If a passenger receives damages under medical payments coverage and later gets liability compensation from the insurance company, the amount previously received may be deducted from the liability settlement amount.
Contact a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
At The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C., we focus our law practice exclusively on handling accident injury cases. With 25 years of experience, no case is too complex for attorney Christopher Hoffmann. Our goal is to secure maximum financial compensation for your physical and emotional recovery.