Car Accident Law Office: Passenger Rights And Legal Options
Car accidents are unfortunate events that can lead to severe consequences, from physical injuries to psychological trauma. While much attention is given to the rights and responsibilities of drivers involved in these accidents, it's equally important to discuss the rights and legal options available to passengers.
Here's a detailed overview of passenger rights and potential legal routes in the aftermath of a car accident.
The Right to Compensation
Passengers have the right to seek compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident.
- Damages: This compensation can cover medical expenses, lost wages due to inability to work, and pain and suffering. Unlike the drivers involved, a passenger is rarely at fault, and thus their claim is typically against one or both drivers involved in the accident.
Claim Against a Driver
In many cases, one or both drivers involved in the accident may be at fault.
- Claims: As a passenger, you can file a claim against the driver(s) responsible. It's worth noting that if you're related to the driver and live in the same household, certain insurance policies may limit or exclude your ability to claim. Always consult with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your options.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough insurance to cover your injuries, you may be able to make a claim under the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage of the vehicle's insurance policy, or even your personal car insurance policy if you have one.
In accidents involving multiple passengers, things can get complicated.
- Multiple Passengers: All passengers may file claims for their injuries, but the total payout may not exceed the policy limit of the at-fault driver's insurance. If the sum of the passengers' claims exceeds this limit, each passenger may receive a reduced amount, proportional to their individual claim.
It's recommended to hire a competent car accident attorney to represent your interests. A professional can guide you through the intricate processes of filing claims and lawsuits and ensure your rights are protected. They can also help you understand the full scope of your damages and argue for a fair settlement on your behalf.
- Statute of Limitations: Each state has a statute of limitations, a deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed. If you don't file within this period (often two to three years from the date of the accident, but this varies by state), you may forfeit your right to seek compensation. An attorney can help ensure you meet all important legal deadlines.
- Negligence: In rare cases, a passenger might be partially at fault for their injuries (for instance, if they knowingly got into a car with an intoxicated driver). A few states follow "contributory negligence" rules, where if you're even 1% at fault, you cannot recover damages. Other states follow "comparative negligence" rules, where your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault.
To find out more, contact a car accident law firm today.