Legal Rights of Injured Passengers in Car, Truck and Motorcycle Accidents
As a passenger in a vehicle, you have rights if you are involved in an accident. Whether you are riding in a car or truck or on a motorcycle, you may file an injury claim with the driver’s insurance company and possibly depending on the severity of your injuries, your own. Do not make the assumption that you will have to foot the bills of the accident because you are not driving. As a passenger, a number of policies could potentially cover your injuries and help you get back on your feet.
More specifically, we have seen passengers in accidents make claims against the following policies:
- The bodily injury (or liability) insurance coverage of the driver of any vehicle causing the accident.
- The bodily injury (or liability) insurance coverage of the owner of any vehicle causing the accident.
- The bodily injury (or liability) insurance coverage of the driver of the car you were in, if the driver holds partial responsibility for the accident.
- The bodily injury (or liability) insurance coverage of the owner of the car you were in, if the driver holds partial responsibility for the accident.
- Medical Payments Coverage under the above and possibly your auto insurance.
- Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage may also be available depending on the severity of your injuries.
As a passenger, your claim can get very tricky, there are a number of exceptions and exclusions that may affect who and how much you may collect from. In most cases, especially where the passengers are children and/or severely injured, an attorney should review the case to see what could be available.
What if the Passenger is related to the Driver that caused the accident?
If you are a relative or live with the driver of the vehicle and he/she has caused the accident, you may not have access to certain policies based on their contract language. You should always have an attorney review policies in those instances.
What Determines Fault in an Accident with a Passenger?
Being a passenger in a vehicle almost always eliminates any fault for you. There are some circumstances that some passengers have caused accident by distracting the driver, etc… but under most normal circumstances, the passenger generally holds no fault, and therefore no liability. In fact, as a passenger, a case can sometimes be finalized quicker because fault generally is not in dispute. The biggest issues that may arise are of insurance policies and the legal language that comes with them.
An additional exception to the above statement appears in drunken driver cases. If you enter a vehicle of a driver that you know is drunk, you may be found to hold some liability.
What should I do if I am a passenger in an auto accident?
The first thing you should concentrate on is get the medical treatment you need to get your life moving in the right direction. It is always a priority of ours to make sure you have received the treatment necessary and as recommended by medical professionals before dealing with your insurance claim.
After you have begun healing and moving in the right direction, you can then begin to focus on your claim and that is where we can help. Your first priority should be to identify who was involved in the accident and contact information. If you did not get the information at the scene, it should be noted on the police report. It is important for any accident that police are contacted and brought to the scene to complete a report or accident exchange form. The report will have details on who was involved, what car they were in, where the vehicles were damaged, a map of the accident scene and witness statements. It may also include information on liability and any traffic infractions that were given. As you were a witness to the accident as a passenger, you should be interviewed as well and your statement will be in the report.
Your final step after getting the medical attention you need is to contact an attorney. With the amount of confusion that comes after an accident, it is important that you understand what to do when the insurance companies begin to call. An adjuster will contact you to not only get your statement, but to also try to convince you to settle early and at a reduced amount. You generally have no obligations to the insurance company under the policies affected. Do not give a recorded statement without speaking with an attorney first as you may not be required to give one.
What if I am in the car accident with friends or family? I don’t want to sue my friend or relative.
We have seen it time and time again, many of our clients struggle with the thought of sueing their friends or family, even with huge medical bills piling up and lost wages. However, what most don’t realize is that in most cases claims do not lead to a lawsuit. If, and only if, they do, the money that you receive is from the insurance company and not directly from your friend or family member. Keep in mind, the drivers involved in the accident are named in the suit, however, the insurance company has a responsibility to defend and/or settle the case.
Our attorneys understand the concern someone would have in filing a lawsuit against family members and possibly raising their insurance rates. After most accidents, regardless of fault, insurance rates generally increase and you not filing a claim will not prevent it from occurring, regardless of what you are told by the insurance adjuster. More importantly, is the accident was caused by another party, their insurance would be liable and a suit would generally be filed against that insurance company.
Why do I need help from an attorney as a passenger?
Dealing with insurance companies has become the number one hassle of vehicle owners across the country. They will not be upfront, they will try to protect their bottom line and they will not treat you fairly unless forced to by an attorney. An attorney that you hire will be able to access a number of tools to not only protect your interests, but also to hold those accountable for their actions.
The Miley Legal Group has helped hundreds of passengers in accidents over the years, and many more victims of various accidents. Each client is treated fairly and with respect from the beginning. Our primary goal is to make sure you have your life put back together so you can move on.
If you or a loved one was a passenger in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact our office for a FREE case evaluation. We have the information you need to answer your questions. Do not let stresses or the burden of medical bills cloud your judgement. The actions you take now will affect you for the remainder of your life. We can help.