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How can passengers file personal injury claims?

Chad West Sept. 29, 2021

Imagine this scenario: You’re a passenger hitching a ride with a friend when that friend makes a foolish move and loses control of their vehicle. Through no fault of your own, you find yourself profoundly injured and unsure of your next move. Many individuals think about injury car wreck cases in simple terms – two individual drivers in separate cars with one person’s clear negligence to blame for the wreck. Most cases, however, are more complex.

A past client experienced this exact scenario herself. She was riding with a friend who drove her car off a small embankment. Our client sustained a broken jaw and broken hip and landed in the hospital for almost a month. When she came to us for help, she was dealing with the reality that she would now have to walk with a cane despite being only in her mid-30s. She lacked medical insurance coverage, so she had no financial safety net for when the friend’s insurance company Personal Injury Protection coverage ran out. Our client was struggling seeing her friend receive a new car thanks to the friend’s insurance coverage while our client received a paltry settlement offer and a pile of medical bills simply because she lacked certain financial resources to fall back on. She was hurt and overwhelmed by her friend’s negligence and unsure how to proceed with the settlement offer she received from the insurance company which would come nowhere close to covering her medical bills.

Many individuals may not think about passenger claimants in personal injury cases. If the other driver was at fault in a crash, a passenger may file against that driver’s insurance policy. Passenger claimants may also file against the policy of the covered vehicle in which they were passengers. To help with medical costs, claimants may rely on their own health insurance coverage OR may even file a claim on their own automotive insurance. Such claims, however, may result in an increase in monthly premiums for passenger claimants. In many cases drivers share fault for the crash and resulting damages. That means both parties could be liable for their passengers’ injuries. All drivers have a duty to care for their passengers. In the case of our client mentioned above, the client could pursue a claim against her friend’s policy because her friend’s negligence was a contributing factor to our client’s injuries.

In every collision, insurance investigators will have work to do to determine liability. Multi car collisions are especially complicated examples where multiple parties may be assigned liability. The February 2021 Tarrant County pileup involving more than 100 vehicles is a prime example. More than 65 people were injured, and at least six died. Liability would most certainly be shared among many drivers and would not be reasonably assigned to only one individual in this event.

If you were injured as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, pursuing a financial recovery may not be the first thing on your mind. As medical bills begin to pile up, however, you may need to consider your options. As our client experienced, an insurance company’s initial offer almost certainly will not cover your expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. Most injury claims are settled without the need for litigation. Our recent client not only received a settlement that put cash in her pocket. We also helped her get the medical treatment she needed to reduce her pain, and we successfully reduced her medical debt to an amount that would be covered by the settlement amount.

If you’ve been injured in a car wreck because of someone else’s negligence – even if that person was a friend – call us for help. We will go to work with the insurance company and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

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