UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Are passengers able to file a personal injury claim after an accident? If you are injured in a collision when someone else was driving, are you able to file a personal injury claim?
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about passenger injury claims after an accident.
Yes, Passengers Can Typically File a Personal Injury Claim If Injured in an Accident
In most cases, a passenger can file a personal injury claim if they are injured in an accident. As a passenger, you have the right to recover damages from the liable party. These lawsuits are typically collected under the name “third party passenger claims”.
There are some restrictions to passenger personal injury claims. If you live with the driver, or if you are related to the driver, then you may not be able to file a personal injury claim. State laws vary, so check with a car accident attorney to ensure you understand your rights.
The other major restriction with a passenger personal injury claim is that you need to have been injured. You must have documented injuries that occurred from the car accident.
Some lawyers will tell you that it’s actually easier to file a personal injury claim as a passenger than as a driver. As a passenger, you were not in control of the vehicle and (in most cases) were not at-fault for the accident whatsoever.
In this case, the liable party might include the driver who was in the vehicle with you. Or, the liable party could be another driver.
Who is Held Liable for a Third Party Passenger Claim?
If you live in an at-fault state (like most states), then the party at-fault for the car accident is responsible for paying compensation to anyone who was injured, including passengers. If the other driver was at-fault for the accident, then the other driver must pay for your medical bills and other losses.
Depending on the accident, however, you may be able to hold several parties accountable for your losses. There might be more than one liable party.
Liable Parties in a Single Vehicle Accident
Typically, single vehicle accidents occur from driver negligence. In the eyes of your insurance company, you’re almost always at-fault for a single vehicle accident.
Let’s say you were a passenger injured in a single vehicle accident. In this case, you may be able to file a personal injury claim with the driver’s insurance company. In order for this lawsuit to be successful, you must prove that your injuries were caused by the accident and that the driver was negligent.
If your lawsuit is successful, then your medical bills and other losses will be covered up to the limits of the driver’s car insurance policy.
Liable Parties in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
If you are injured in a car accident that involved multiple vehicles, then several parties may be at fault for your injuries. If your lawyer can prove multiple drivers were negligent (say, 60% at fault for one driver and 40% at fault for the other), then each driver is proportionally liable for any injuries or damages.
When the fault is distributed among different drivers, you can file a personal injury claim against each at-fault party – regardless of which percent they were at-fault. Theoretically, this would allow you to claim 60% of your medical bill compensation from one driver and 40% from the other, if the lawsuits are successful.
How to Move Forward with a Personal Injury Claim as a Passenger
Typically, you’ll want to sit down with a lawyer and discuss your options. If you have been legitimately injured in a car accident, then the attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit to all at-fault parties. Lawsuits may be filed to your driver, for example, and the person driving the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
Generally, the lawsuit will proceed like any other lawsuit. The lawyers and insurance company will negotiate for a settlement.
Sometimes, there’s a dispute. One insurance company might determine Driver A is 25% at-fault, for example, while the other insurance company might determine that Driver A is 75% at-fault.
Like any negotiation, there will be a back-and-forth process until a settlement is reached.
Speak with a Car Accident Attorney
Ultimately, car accident attorneys deal with situations like this every day. Car accident attorneys frequently sit down with passengers who were injured in a car accident. Many car accident attorneys also offer a free consultation, making it easy to see your legal options before you decide to proceed with a lawsuit.
As a passenger, you have the right and ability to file a personal injury claim against the driver. If the driver is insured, then the claim will be handled by the driver’s insurance company up to the limits of the policy. If the driver is uninsured, then the driver will need to pay out-of-pocket.