Can a Passenger Sue for a Car Accident?
Passengers may sue the at-fault driver in a car accident, and may even sue both drivers if they both shared responsibility for the accident. The negligence of both drivers will generally add up to 100%, even if it’s 5% for one driver and 95% for another.
The only exception is if your own behavior caused the crash somehow. For example, if you grabbed the steering wheel, or assaulted the driver, then you might share a portion of fault.
Passengers may also file car accident claims with their own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy if the monies paid by the insurance companies of the drivers are insufficient to cover their losses. This may mean there will be anywhere from one to three insurance policies involved in the case.
Both of the driver’s insurance companies are going to do everything they can to dodge responsibility for your injuries. It’s quite common for passengers to have trouble pursuing claims, especially as passenger claims may push payouts past the insurance limits carried by either driver.
Sometimes, an argument over who is at fault can lead both insurance companies to deny a passengers claim for compensation.
It’s also quite common for the driver’s claim to eat every dollar of the settlement before a passenger even files their claim. This is why it’s important for passenger car accident victims to secure proper representation, and fast. A passenger may well be entitled to a portion of the claim, but the not-at-fault driver’s claim is the one that tends to get the most attention. In some situations, a passenger may need to sue their own driver to get the compensation the law entitles them to. This could involve suing a friend or family member. While this may seem harsh, remember that it’s the car insurance company who is paying the claim. Our office has handled many passenger claims with a friend or family member who accepts liability and has no qualms about their passenger filing a claim.
If your auto policy includes medical coverage and personal injury coverage, your own policy might at least pay your medical bills on your behalf, though they may need a nudge from your lawyer to ensure they pay enough money to actually compensate you for all that was lost.
What to Do if You Were the Passenger in a Car Accident
Your best bet is to treat the accident exactly as you would if you were one of the drivers.
- Don’t say anything about your injuries at the accident. This includes avoiding the words, “I’m okay.”
- Gather evidence at the scene if possible. Take your own photos, get witness information, and get insurance information from both drivers.
- Avoid talking to any insurance company. Leave it to your attorney to inform the insurance companies involved.
- Get treatment for your injuries immediately. If you don’t feel injured you should still get a doctor’s evaluation. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear right away.
- Comply with all of your doctor’s orders.
- Contact an attorney.
Should You Contact an Attorney if You Were a Passenger in a Car Crash?
Do not hesitate to contact an attorney, even if the other driver is a friend. You will typically be seeking compensation from the driver’s insurance company rather than the driver directly.
If you’re related to the driver and/or a member of the driver’s household you should be covered under the driver’s insurance policy. That doesn’t make recovery easy, but it does simplify the problem.
Like the drivers, you are entitled to both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic damages include medical costs, property damage, and lost income. Noneconomic losses include compensation for disfigurement, and pain and suffering. If the crash involves gross negligence you may be entitled to punitive damages as well.
As with all personal injury cases, passenger claims can get complicated quickly. Working with a skilled car accident attorney is the best way to make sure you get the money you need to get back on your feet.
Fill out the form to get started with your free evaluation of your passenger injury claim today.