Can I File A Lawsuit If I Was A Passenger In A Car Crash?
In a car accident, a passenger who gets injured generally has an easier path to compensation than other claimants for personal injury. That is because, typically, the passenger does not have to demonstrate liability and would not likely be at fault. Generally, the driver will be found to be at fault for the accident.
Passenger Injury Basics Post Car Accidents
After a car accident, as with any claim for personal injury, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate two things in a vehicle accident situation: liability (who was at fault) and damage (how severe is the injury).
If the crash was a two-car accident, fault will almost certainly be attributed to at least one of the drivers. In a one-car accident (i.e. the driver hits a tree) he or she would likely be found 100 percent at fault. As a general rule, if a rider strikes a stationary object, he or she usually has committed an act (or failed to perform an act) that amounts to negligence.
It is essential to understand that you may not receive complete compensation in certain circumstances. This is referred to as a fault in comparison. In a scenario of relative fault, you knowingly engage in a dangerous act that may ultimately result in an accident that could cause injury. For example, relative fault would be attributed to you if you knowingly get into a vehicle driven by someone you know has had several alcoholic beverages and should not drive an automobile. In these circumstances, your compensation may be reduced or eliminated by both insurance companies and courts, as you are considered to have assumed the danger.
Filing a Passenger Injury Claim
If the passenger files a claim under the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy, this is known as a 3rd-party car insurance claim. A passenger injury claim proceeds just like any other type of car accident claim, except that the passenger may make the claim against both drivers, if it was a two-car accident.
If the accident occurred in a no-fault car insurance state, an injured passenger is likely covered under the no-fault/personal injury protection (PIP) policy of the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was riding. The injured passenger likely has no recourse against the other driver, unless the passenger’s injuries meet the state’s statutory thresholds for taking a claim out of no-fault.
Multiple Passenger Injuries
Another problem arises when there are multiple passenger injuries.
For example, a car carrying three passengers is rear-ended and all four occupants of the car are injured. All four file claims against the negligent driver. If the total value of the injury cases exceeds the driver’s liability car insurance coverage, each injured person may have to settle with the negligent driver for less than what his or her case is worth. Essentially, all of the injured people have to take their share of the compensation from the same small pot. If the injured claimants can’t agree with each other as to how much each should get, the insurer is usually not going to settle with any of them. The passengers are then going to have to file suit in order to settle the issue of how much each will get.
If you are a passenger who was injured in a car accident, and you have any questions about your legal rights, it is important to discuss your situation with a car accident lawyer.
An experienced attorney can assist you to make a claim for personal injury. The Hollingsworth Law Firm, PLLC is a firm you can trust to represent your best interest with honest and expert legal experience. We understand what you and your loved ones are going through, and we have been helping personal injury victims like you through the years. We can help you obtain the monetary compensation that may be owed to you.
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