Being involved in a car accident can be scary and confusing, more so if you are a passenger. You may not know what to do and what not to do. You don’t know which insurance covers you as a passenger and what you are supposed to do to receive compensation.
For passengers, one of the most common questions that come up after being involved in a crash is; can a passenger file a personal injury claim? We shall try to answer this question in the most comprehensive way possible but the first thing that you need to understand is that, if you are involved in a car accident and you are a passenger, there are certain bits of critical information that you need to find out as quickly as possible to protect your rights.
As a passenger in a car that has been involved in an accident, your options are different from those of the car's driver. You should also remember the fact that an injured passenger may have several rights even when the driver has none.
Can a Passenger File a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident?
The short answer to this question is yes. An individual could proceed to file a personal injury claim if they were a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an accident. In fact, filing a personal injury claim is usually easier for passengers and the primary reason why it’s simple is that a passenger doesn’t have to prove liability like in the case of the driver of the car.
The driver of the vehicle must go through the normal process of proving liability with their auto insurance claim. For instance, if the accident involved two cars, the driver will be expected to show that it was the other driver who was negligent and should, therefore, be liable. However, in a car accident that involves only a single a vehicle, it is the driver who is always responsible.
Was It a Single Car Accident?
If the accident involved only one vehicle that occurred as a result of the driver’s negligence such as speeding, then you as a passenger have the legal right to sue the motorist of the car for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The driver of any vehicle owes his/her passengers an obligation to use reasonable care while driving the car.
The driver is legally liable for the injured person's damages. Although you may be unwilling to sue the driver of the vehicle since he/she is your friend, you need to remember the fact that you aren't suing the driver, but you are going after the auto insurance company.
What Happens If You Own a Car and You Have Auto Insurance?
Let us also talk about one of the most likely scenarios that may happen. Although we are talking about an accident where you are a passenger in another person’s car, there might be a likelihood that you also own a car and you have car insurance. Well, you may be wondering whether you need to involve your insurance company since it wasn’t your car that was involved in the accident and you weren't driving.
However, the law in certain states dictates that as long as you own a car and you have auto insurance, then it doesn't matter who was driving since you must involve your insurance company. It doesn’t matter whether you were a passenger in your mom’s, dad’s coworker’s or kid’s car. The first thing that your car insurance will do is to help pat the no-fault benefits that you deserve.
Your auto insurance provider may also pay up to 80 percent of your medical bills, and this comes into play even if you were a passenger in another vehicle during the accident. It is critical for you to know this information since you need to inform your insurance company in good time.
Is a Passenger Ever Considered To Be At-Fault?
As a passenger, you’ll never be held liable for an accident, and that is why you are entitled to all no-fault benefits. However, it is good to note that there are a few instances when the driver’s insurance company may decide to dismiss your claims.
For instance, if you decide to ride in a car with a driver you know very well that he/she is under the influence, you will not have the right to be compensated for your personal injuries. Although you are not liable for the car accident, you will be held responsible for your decision to get into the vehicle knowing that the driver was incapable of driving safely.
Make sure that you talk to a car accident lawyer if you have suffered personal injuries if you entered the car not knowing that your driver was under the influence. A professional and experienced attorney will help you to get the compensation that you deserve to cover the lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering and much more.
Filing a Passenger Personal Injury Claim
A passenger personal injury claim usually proceeds like any other type of a personal injury claim except that the affected passenger is expected to file a claim against both motorists if it was a two-vehicle accident. As a passenger, you should make sure that you obtain the critical information for each motorist and file passenger claims with each of the driver’s auto insurance company.
However, there are certain obvious scenarios when you are expected to deal with the insurance company of the one driver. For example, if one driver is obviously at fault like he/she hit another car from behind, then the passenger in that car need not file a claim against the motorist of the lead vehicle. If the accident occurs in a no-fault state, then you can file a personal injury protection or a no-fault compensation claim against the driver concerning lost wages and his/her hospital expenses.
Consider Getting Legal Assistance
Being involved in a car accident can be a stressful and challenging process. The first thing you need to do is to seek medical attention to ascertain the extent of personal injuries suffered. Afterward, you should consider consulting a personal injury attorney to learn about the kind of compensation that you should receive from the insurance company. An experienced attorney will be able to answer your questions and help you understand your legal options and next steps.
Guest Post Written by Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, founded in 1992, has helped thousands of accident victims secure the financial resources they need to treat their injuries, support their families and rebuild their lives. Our dedication as advocates has earned our firm a proud reputation as the “voice of the injured” throughout the State of New York. For over two decades, our firm's commitment to legal excellence has earned our associates regular nominations among the best personal injury lawyers in New York, and consistent recognition and honors amongst our peers, industry magazines, and national reviews.