What Are Your Rights as a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident?
Being involved in a car accident is frightening for everyone involved. Oftentimes we focus on the drivers who are affected by these accidents, but passengers are also often victims of car accidents. If you are injured in an accident as a passenger, what rights do you have?
Liability for the Accident
The insurance companies of the drivers involved in the accident will work to discover who was at fault for the accident, and consequently, whose insurance company is liable for the damage. As a passenger involved in the crash, you should not need to worry about liability—barring any strange circumstances, one of the drivers involved will be found liable for the crash.
Who Does an Injured Passenger File a Claim Against?
The party whom the injured passenger will file a claim against will depend on a few factors. If the accident involves only one vehicle, such as a collision with an object or a single-vehicle rollover crash, the injured passenger should file a claim with the driver’s insurance company.
When more than one vehicle is involved, this becomes more complicated. If it is immediately clear which driver was at fault for the accident, an injured passenger can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, in some cases, more than one person can be at fault for an accident. California is a comparative fault state, meaning fault for an accident can be shared. For example, if a party is found to be 40% at fault for the accident, they can be held responsible for 40% of the damages, while the other party is responsible for 60% of the damages. For the passenger injured in the crash, this could mean they would need to seek compensation from more than one insurance policy to pay for their damages.
What If the Drivers Involved are Uninsured?
In some cases, the at-fault driver may not have adequate auto insurance. Unfortunately, the Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that 15% of motorists in California are uninsured. In cases where the at-fault driver is uninsured, an injured passenger may be able to make a claim through their uninsured motorist coverage. Of course, the injured passenger will have to have uninsured motorist coverage as part of their policy to be able to make the claim.
The Discomfort of Making a Claim Against Your Driver
One complicated aspect of a personal injury claim for a passenger in an accident is their relationship with the driver they were riding with, if that driver was found to be at fault. As a passenger injured in an accident, you might feel uncomfortable about making a claim against the driver. If you were riding in their vehicle, it is likely that you at least know each other; more likely, you are a friend or family member of that driver. You may feel like it is a betrayal of that person for you to make a claim against them. The reality is, this is the reason people have insurance. It is not something to take personally, and filing a claim through their insurance is the best way to ensure you receive compensation for your damages.
“As a passenger, you are very unlikely to be at fault for the accident and will need to file a claim against another driver’s insurance company. A personal injury attorney can help guide you through this process, and help handle the negotiations with the insurance company,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.