Can You File A Personal Injury Claim if You are the Car Passenger?
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the average vehicle occupancy in 2017 was 1.67 people per vehicle. This means that, while many Americans do commute solo, there is a good chance that a driver who is in a collision will also be traveling with at least one passenger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that 25 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2018 were passengers in the vehicle that crashed. What happens if a passenger is injured or dies in a traffic crash? Similar to a driver, they can file a personal injury claim, or the family can file a wrongful death claim, to seek compensation for the damages.
Does it Matter Which Driver Was At-Fault?
How you proceed with seeking compensation depends on which driver has been deemed at-fault for the crash. If the driver of your vehicle was not at-fault then you can file a personal injury claim with the liable driver’s insurance. The bodily injury insurance will cover costs such as:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Funeral and burial expenses; and
Bodily injury insurance has policy limits that are often split into a limit per person and a limit per accident. For instance, according to Geico Car Insurance, the state minimum for bodily injury insurance is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. This means if there are multiple people injured in the crash, your chances of fully recovering the damages is limited.
Another option at this point is to file a claim with your driver’s medical payments insurance (Med-Pay) or their personal injury protection insurance (PIP). Both of these types of insurance are optional for drivers in California. If the driver is not at-fault for the crash, using these policies to help pay for the damages will not increase the driver’s deductible. However, if the driver of the car you were a passenger in is considered at-fault for the collision, it will likely impact their insurance rates.
Can A Passenger Be Considered At-Fault?
One of the few times an insurance company may dismiss a passenger’s claim is if they knowingly got into a vehicle with a drunk or impaired driver. While you are not considered at-fault for the collision itself, the insurance company may state that you were aware of the injury risks by getting in the car.
Contact a San Jose Personal Injury Attorney If You Were A Passenger During a Traffic Crash
When we get into a vehicle we put our trust in the driver to get us to the destination safely. Unfortunately, even if you are being driven by an attentive and skilled driver, another road user could cause a collision that leaves you injured. If you or a loved one has been an injured passenger in a traffic crash, you can still seek compensation. Contact the knowledgeable San Jose car accident attorneys at Solution Now Law Firm to learn how we can help you begin the legal process. Call us today at 408-256-2871 for a free case evaluation.