When you are a passenger and have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you have legal rights to file a lawsuit for your injuries. In some respects, you have even more rights to bring a legal claim for financial compensation than the driver of the vehicle because you can sue more possible defendants.
Your compensation can include medical expenses and other damages such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
Simply stated, when you are a passenger, you have a nearly unlimited right to file an accident against the responsible party without regard to your own actions in a car crash or a motorcycle accident. If there has been a fatal crash, the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit after the auto accident.
Filing a Claim with the Driver’s Insurer
The passenger has a legal cause of action against whoever is responsible for the car accident. They have the ability to sue the driver of the car in which they were riding if they were the ones who caused the crash.
If you are a passenger, the driver of the car in which you were riding owes you a duty of care. In other words, if they act unreasonably behind the wheel, you can hold the driver legally responsible for what happened to you. This means that speeding, illegal turns, reckless driving and any other kind of dangerous driving can be the grounds for a lawsuit against the driver.
You Can Sue the Fault Driver No Matter Who it Is
This right extends beyond what you would ordinarily think. One spouse can sue the other and children can even sue their parents for any injuries that they suffered.
Many people hesitate to file a lawsuit against a family member or even a friend if they are the responsible driver. They are worried about the fact that court action will be the end of the friendship or will poison their relationship with a family member.
However, passengers not only have the ability to file a lawsuit against the driver of the car no matter who it is, but they should do so if the driver was responsible if fault cannot be established for the accident. In actuality, it is not the driver who would personally end up paying the damages so long as they are under the policy minimum.
It is the driver’s insurance company. The injured passenger is really suing the insurance company, which would end up paying out the claim.
You Should Always Recover Fault Benefits
Thus, injured passengers who do not file a lawsuit are leaving money on the table that could pay them for their medical bills and their lost wages. This is coverage that the driver has paid for, and it should be taken advantage of and utilized regardless of who is the negligent driver.
If the driver of the other vehicle is at fault for the accident, the passenger can file their lawsuit against the motorist. Whoever is responsible for the accident is the one that the passenger is able to file their claim against or sue. The law in Illinois is that it is a no-fault state. The driver who is at fault is the one who is obligated to pay the damages.
Do Not Get Shortchanged in a Passenger Car Accident
If both drivers are equally at fault for the accident, the passenger has the ability to file claims against the auto insurance policy of both drivers or sue both drivers. This is something that is good for the passenger because they sometimes end up shortchanged by policy coverage limits in a car crash.
This way, if their claim exceeds one driver’s maximum, they can recover against the second driver’s policy in a vehicle accident. For an injured passenger, it is all about getting the maximum compensation in an insurance claim or a personal injury claim.
No Contributory Negligence for Passenger Injuries
When it comes to the prospect of comparative and contributory negligence, passengers are generally not held to that standard when it comes to a car accident lawsuit. Unless there is strong evidence that the passenger themselves did something wrong, they are not held to the same standard as the driver when it comes to assigning blame for the accident.
Passengers are presumed to have used ordinary care when they are involved in a car accident case.
The same principle holds true for motorcycle passengers as they also will not generally been found to have been negligent for the accident. An injured motorcycle passenger can file a claim against the motorcycle operator or whoever was responsible for the motorcycle crash.
When a child is injured, the insurance will look at whether the serious injury was caused by the failure to properly use a car seat, child safety seat or booster seat. Similarly, the passenger’s use of a seat belt may become an issue.
Unlike when the driver is suing for damages, a court or an auto insurance company will not look at the passenger’s actions to see if they contributed to the accident and whether their recovery should be reduced. However, for a motorcycle passenger, the insurance will look at things like if they were wearing a helmet.
Maximize Compensation beyond Just Medical Care
The passenger may already be covered under the driver’s policy if they are related to them. They would be considered an “insured person.” It is vital for the injured passenger to find someone against whom to file a claim because their own insurance policy would not provide them with as much compensation.
If they are forced to file a claim against their own car insurance coverage and their personal injury protection, they cannot recover for pain and suffering or lost wages. They would largely be limited to medical costs. Thus, the passenger is not better off filing against their own auto insurance policy.
Because of this, passengers’ legal interests may not align with the driver of the car in which they were riding. Thus, passengers need to be careful when giving a statement to the insurance company after the accident.
While passengers will always have the ability to recover since they cannot be found at fault for the accident, they need to consult with a personal injury attorney of their own before they give any statements to the insurance company.
A passenger needs to look at an accident for how it affects their own interests since they will have medical bills and missed work time for which they need to be financially compensated. They are not necessarily doing their friend or family member a disservice by seeking financial payments for their own injuries.
The best way for a passenger to learn about the complexities of who they may sue or file a claim against is to contact a personal injury lawyer. The attorney would inform their client of the best way to make the necessary filings to get compensated for the damages that they have suffered.
For legal advice, contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC for a free consultation. Our law firm can help you figure out insurance coverage and take legal action.