Being involved in a car crash as a passenger can sometimes be just as dangerous as being in the driver’s seat. If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident, you are normally entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain, suffering and disability from one of the drivers causing the crash.
This article offers some important information that will help you understand what to do if you were injured in a car crash as a passenger. Keep reading to learn:
- What is a third-party lawsuit?
- What your personal insurance policy may, or may not cover for passenger injuries
- Passenger exclusions from third-party claims
- Steps to help you file a lawsuit if you are injured as a vehicle passenger
- Passenger car crash statistics
- Rollover accident statistics and information
- Where you choose to sit in a passenger vehicle matters
What is a Third Party Passenger Lawsuit?
A passenger personal injury claims is often a type of third party lawsuit. It is called ‘third party’ because the passenger is not suing his own health or car insurance company, he is suing the drivers of one or more of the vehicles that were at fault and caused his injuries. It is not an injured person filing a claim against their own insurance company, but rather, the passenger is filing a claim against third parties, driver A or driver B.
An easy way to understand this is to think about a car crash — if you are involved in a car crash as a passenger, you can file a lawsuit, or third-party claim against:
- the policy of the driver or owner of the car you were riding in at the time of the accident, or
- the policy of the driver or owner of another vehicle involved in the accident.
As a passenger involved in a car crash, regardless of which driver is at fault, you may have the right to file a claim against either driver’s insurance company.
Your Personal Insurance Policy May Cover you for Passenger Injuries
If you currently own a car with insurance coverage or live with an adult relative who owns a car, that insurance policy coverage may extend to cover you if you’re injured in an accident as a passenger and the person causing the crash has no insurance or not enough insurance. If their coverage is not adequate, you may be able to file a claim against:
- Your own insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits, if the at fault driver has no insurance, or
- Your own insurance company for underinsured motorist benefits, if the at fault driver has inadequate coverage.
These types of claims are known as first party claims.
As with any personal injury claim against an insurance company, you should seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer to ensure you are getting the compensation you are entitled to, not a quick cash settlement. Talk to a legal representative now.
Passenger Exclusions from Third-Party Claims
You may not be entitled to recover any damages in a first party claim if:*
- You currently have a licensed vehicle that does not have insurance
- You used a car without permission
- You contributed to your own injury
- You committed a felony at the time of the injury
- You used the car of someone living in your household but are own a car that is not insured
*Some exclusions may not apply to you. Contact our legal team today, or submit a free case evaluation and we can help you determine if you have a claim.
Steps to Help you File a Lawsuit if you are Injured as a Vehicle Passenger
If you are injured as a vehicle passenger, first and foremost, understand that you have rights. Just because you are not driving the car or because you may not have insurance, does not mean that you cannot recover for your damages, whether it is medical bills, wage loss or other unexpected costs or suffering. Here are some simple steps you should take after an accident:
- Gather the insurance information for the vehicles involved in the crash
- Write down witness information, in the same way you would if you were the driver
- File a claim with your own insurance policy
- Proceed, as needed, with medical treatments and follow your doctor’s advice
- Complete an initial consultation with a lawyer, to ensure your expenses will be covered
- Your lawyer will complete a liability and medical investigation
- Your lawyer will help you with a settlement demand
- Your case will settle if you choose to, or you can file a lawsuit with the help of your lawyer
Passenger Car Crash Statistics
As a driver on the road, or as a mom, dad, guardian, grandparent or friend, you should know the current statistics around passenger vehicle injury and fatalities. For example, depending on if your accident is a single vehicle (driving off the road, or hitting a fixed object) or multi-vehicle (hitting another car) will affect injury and fatalities rates.
Here are the current 2015 statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
- Pickups and SUVs (which can hold more passengers) are proportionally more likely than cars to be in fatal single-vehicle crashes,
- However, pickups and SUVs generally are heavier than cars, so occupant deaths in SUVs and pickups are less likely to occur in multiple-vehicle crashes
- A total of 22,543 passenger vehicle occupants died in 2015.
- Frontal impacts accounted for 54 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2015.
- Side impact collisions accounted for 25 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.
- Twenty-six percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2015 were younger than 25.>
Rollover Accident Statistics:
High-occupancy vehicles, like minivans, SUVs and large trucks, are at higher risk for rollover accidents. A vehicle is classified as rolling over if it tips onto its side or roof at any time during a vehicle crash. Many rollovers happen after a vehicle incident.
- A total of 7,210 passenger vehicle occupants died in rollover crashes in 2015.
- Twenty-eight percent of these did not involve any other impact.
- More than three-fourths of fatal rollovers are single-vehicle crashes.
Where You Choose to Sit in a Passenger Vehicle, Matters
A 2004 study analyzed vehicle crash data points. Here is what the study found:
- Rear seat passenger position may reduce the risk of death in a motor vehicle crash by about 39% and reduce the risk of death or serious injury in a crash by 33%, compared with the front seat passenger position.
- Sitting in the rear seat, compared with the front seat, may prevent about 4 in 10 passenger deaths, or 3 in 10 passenger deaths and injuries, that might otherwise occur.
If you’ve been injured as a passenger in a car crash, talk to a lawyer today to get the financial compensation you may deserve. Get started with a fast, free case evaluation.
At Murphy & Prachthauser we practice law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
If you have a case you would like to speak to a lawyer about, please contact us for a free case evaluation and get an experienced team of lawyers working on your behalf.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Accid Anal Prev. 2004 Mar;36(2):257-60.
Passenger seating position and the risk of passenger death or injury in traffic crashes.