Getting Compensation As A Passenger In A Car Wreck

Posted on: 21 September 2018

Auto accidents don't just affect those behind the wheel—they also affect every passenger in the vehicle. Being involved in an accident as a driver can be a stressful experience. Dealing with the aftermath of an accident as a passenger adds an additional layer of complications. For starters, you may be unsure of how to get compensation for your injuries and other damages.

As a passenger, you have plenty of options when it comes to receiving the compensation you deserve. The following shows how you can successfully handle your auto accident claim.

How Should You Pursue Your Claim?

While filing an accident claim as a driver is usually straightforward, things can get complicated when it comes to passengers. The first step in the process involves determining who's at fault for the accident. How you'll eventually pursue your auto accident claim relies heavily on which party is ultimately found at fault.

Your Driver's Insurance

You can pursue a claim against your driver's insurance policy if that driver is found at fault. Under most circumstances, their liability coverage will take care of any medical bills stemming from injuries sustained during the accident. That coverage will also take care of any lost wages and other financial compensation up to that driver's liability limits.

The Other Driver's Insurance

If fault for the accident lies with the driver of the other vehicle, you can pursue a claim against that driver's insurance policy. The amount you'll be able to collect will depend on the other driver's level of fault. If both drivers are found at fault for the accident and the resulting claim exceeds the other driver's liability coverage, you can file a claim against your driver's insurance policy for the remaining amount.

If the other driver is completely at fault yet the claim exceeds that driver's coverage limits, you may need to personally sue the driver and initiate collection efforts with the help of your personal injury attorney.

Your Own Insurance Policy

There's also the option of filing a claim against your own auto insurance policy. When you file as a passenger in someone else's vehicle or even your own vehicle, you can file a claim against your policy's medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage can take care of medical expenses stemming from injuries you've sustained.

If you also have health care coverage, you can use your auto insurer's medical payments or PIP coverage as secondary insurance. The extra insurance comes in handy if your claims somehow exceed your coverage limits. Unlike medical payments coverage, PIP coverage also provides reimbursement for lost wages.

What If You're Related to the Driver?

Being related to the driver involved in an accident could potentially throw a wrench in your compensation efforts. If you live in the same residence as the related driver, you may fall under that driver's insurance coverage. Most insurance providers won't allow you to pursue liability claims against their own policies, leaving medical payments and PIP coverage as the only viable options for compensation.

What If You're Found At Fault?

It's not often that a passenger is found at fault for an accident they're injured in. However, you could be found partially at fault through any act of driver interference, such as grabbing hold of the steering wheel just before the accident occurs.

If you're found at fault, the award for your damages may be reduced in accordance with your state's liability statutes. For example, in a state that abides by comparative negligence, a settlement amount of $100,000 may be reduced to $75,000 if you're found 25 percent at fault for the accident in question. In states with modified comparative negligence, you may not be entitled to any damages if your level of fault exceeds 50 percent or more. 

For more information, contact an attorney who offers personal injury attorney services.