A passenger in a car or on a motorcycle is very much at the mercy of the vehicle operator to keep them safe from collisions. Errors made by a driver can quickly turn into tragedy when the vehicle collides with another car or is involved in a single car accident.
As a result of the errors made both by the driver of the vehicle as well as other vehicles on the road, passengers can be seriously injured– through no fault of their own. The law readily accepts that a passenger on a motorcycle or in a car is incapable of causing or preventing an accident and as a result passengers are truly free from fault in almost all traffic accidents.
Legal rights of passengers injured in car accidents
A passenger injured in a motor vehicle accident is entitled to pursue a cause of action against all negligent parties that caused or contributed to their injuries. This means that a passenger can look to both the driver of the vehicle as well as the operators of other vehicles that were involved in the collision to recover damages for their injuries. Particularly, in more significant injury cases, it may be necessary to review the applicable insurance coverage for all parties to determine how to maximize the amount of insurance coverage available.
Claims against friends and family for negligent operation of vehicles
Let’s face it, most of us don’t ride in the car of a stranger or get on the back of a motorcycle of someone we just met. The majority of passengers are family members or friends with the driver of the vehicle. As a result, many seriously injured passengers are hesitant to pursue a claim with the driver’s insurance carrier– let alone file a lawsuit against that person that was operating the vehicle in which they were in.
Role of insurance in car passenger injury claims
Despite the initial awkward sound of a claim being filed against a relative or good friend, the reality is that most motor vehicle claims are paid directly by the insurance company for the driver or owner of the vehicle– not out of the driver’s personal assets.
As a party who caused an accident, the driver’s car or motorcycle insurance company has a contractual obligation to pay for the resulting injuries that a passenger received — regardless of their relationship with the driver. Consequently, as strange as it may sound, a child/passenger in a car accident caused by a parent has a right to recover damages for their injuries including medical expenses, pain and suffering as well as lost wages. Similarly, a spouse has a right to recover damages from their spouse if their negligence caused an accident.
Even if an insurance company is unwilling to settle a claim out of court, auto and motorcycle insurance policies require the company to provide an attorney for the driver in court and pay any judgment against them– all without any payment from their personal funds.
Children Passengers Injured In Auto Accidents
Unfortunately, children are often the passengers that are injured in vehicle accidents. According to the Center for Disease Control, car accidents are the leading killer of children in the U.S. In 2009, 1314 children under 14-years of age died and another 179,000 were injured in auto accidents.
It is a very difficult situation when a child is injured when riding with a family member, friend or caregiver. However, just as in other passenger cases, an experienced injury attorney can handle negotiations with the at-fault persons insurance company. This can create the needed buffer between the parents and the legal situation regarding financial compensation from someone close to them.
Contacting a car passenger injury attorney in Chicago, Illinois
If you or your child was a passenger in a car, bus, or motorcycle in and accident in the Chicagoland area or anywhere in the State of Illinois and was injured, it is important to get medical attention for your injuries and to speak to an attorney who represents passengers in personal injury cases. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has successfully represented many passengers in claims against car and motorcycle drivers. Our rapid response allows us to gather important information about how the accident occurred so we can determine who the responsible parties indeed are.
Moreover, as dedicated accident lawyers in Illinois we are respectful of your privacy and your wishes. Particularly when a claim involves a family member or friend, we will do our best to resolve matters as fairly and expeditiously as possible. Contact our office today for a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss your legal options. The evaluation is free and we never charge a fee without a recovery for you.
Related information about passenger safety and accident statistics:
Motorcycle Passenger Injuries
CDC: Child Passenger Safety: Fact Sheet
Safe Kids USA: Child Car Safety
Car Passenger Complaint At Law (Cook County, IL)