Being a passenger in a car accident is a scary experience that can leave you feeling helpless and with little control over the situation. As an occupant in a vehicle that is not behind the wheel, you can be at risk of serious injuries from an impact with another vehicle. Since you are not the one driving and if the vehicle is not owned by you, there can be some confusion about how you can seek reimbursement for your losses and compensation for your damages after an accident.
When you are a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, you have a right to compensation just like any other party involved in the accident. However, because you are not one of the drivers, your path to compensation for your losses can be different than that of the other parties to the case.
Did You Suffer Injuries?
If you sustain an injury in a car accident where you are a passenger, you are eligible for compensation for any losses you accrue due to the crash.
Passengers Are Usually Not at Fault for Car Accidents
In the vast majority of accidents, a passenger cannot be at fault for a collision as you are not in control of the vehicle. The exception to this norm is a situation in which a driver can prove or show that the behavior or actions of a passenger in the vehicle resulted in the accident.
While you are not likely to be held at fault for an accident, you do have an interest as the passenger and an injured victim as to who is ultimately responsible and negligent in the events leading up to the collision. The fault determination in a car accident can influence who you are able to seek compensation from.
Who May Be Liable to You as a Passenger?
When you are the victim of a car accident as a passenger, you have several potential avenues to recovery depending on the facts in the case, the amount of damages, and the parties that are at fault for the accident.
The Driver of the Vehicle You Are In
One option for recovery for a passenger in a motor vehicle accident is to seek compensation from the driver of the vehicle you were in at the time of the crash. The driver or owner of the vehicle is likely to carry vehicle liability insurance that will cover the losses to you when an accident occurs. When you are a passenger, it does not matter whether or not the driver of the vehicle you are in is at fault, you are able to seek damages through a claim to their insurer.
The Driver of Another Vehicle
When another driver is to blame for crashing into the vehicle you are a passenger in, you can seek compensation from that driver or their insurance company for your losses. In this case, you may be able to pursue damages through insurance or personally against the party at fault, whichever is your best option for recovery.
Motor vehicle accidents do not always apportion blame in absolutes. In fact, many car accidents involve the negligence of multiple parties where one party is more likely to blame than the other. In cases where both drivers share some fault in a collision, a passenger that is a victim in the crash can pursue compensation from both parties under the law.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Seek as a Motor Vehicle Accident Passenger?
The losses a passenger faces after a car accident can be serious. Your injuries may be severe, require hospitalization and you could be forced to take time off of work. As a passenger that plays no role or fault in the crash, the law entitles you to seek compensation for all categories of losses that you sustain.
Damages for passengers in a car accident can include:
This loss includes payment of all medical bills and expenses that arise because of your injuries. If you sustain an injury that will need long-term care, you can seek future medical expenses as well.
Loss of Income
Your inability to work is damaging to your finances and your ability to maintain your household and responsibilities. In a claim for damages, you can seek reimbursement of lost wages and any negative impact on your income that may continue because of your injuries as a passenger.
Pain and Suffering
When you are a passenger in a car accident you can undergo trauma that causes you mental and emotional distress in the days, weeks, and months after a crash. In car accident claims, passengers may seek compensation for their distress as well as the physical pain that they must endure from their injuries and in their recovery.
If a family member loses their life in a car accident as a passenger, you may have a wrongful death case against the driver of the vehicle or the party at fault. A wrongful death car accident claim allows you to seek compensation for the expenses for burial or a funeral, loss of contribution from your family member, and other wrongful death damages.
Should You Get a Lawyer to Represent You in Your Case?
As a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, you may believe that resolving your case on your own will be simple. You likely cannot be blamed for an accident by an insurer, but getting them to pay reasonable compensation for your losses would be a challenge without a car accident attorney. Whenever you suffer injuries in a car accident, you need to speak to a lawyer to make certain that you protect your claim and legal rights to compensation.
If You Were a Passenger in an Accident, Contact a Car Accident Attorney For Help
Scheduling a consultation with an Eltringham Law Group car accident attorney is free and easy to do. Contact a car accident attorney near you to discuss what compensation you are eligible for as a passenger in an automobile accident.