When you’re a passenger in a motor vehicle, the driver of that vehicle has a responsibility to use due care and caution for your personal safety. Not only could that driver collide with another vehicle, but he or she could cause a single-car accident too. Passengers are generally incapable of causing an accident, but they can suffer serious injuries through no fault of their own. When this happens, an experienced Philadelphia passenger injury lawyer can help.
The Legal Rights of Pennsylvania Car Accident Passengers
When a passenger is injured in a motor vehicle crash in Pennsylvania, he or she can make liability claims against any person who was negligent and contributed to their injuries. Those people include the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was in too. If the passenger can show that the driver was careless and negligent and caused him or her injuries, compensation for damages can be sought. Those damages might consist of:
- Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
- Past lost earnings and lost earnings reasonably expected to be lost in the future
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of a wrongful death
Friends and Family
Vehicle passengers are usually friends and family members. Because of that, some injured family members are reluctant to bring a personal injury claim with the driver’s liability insurance carrier. We would encourage them to talk with us to go over their options. After an accident, their insurance premiums are likely to increase regardless of any claims filed. Also, many times we are able to settle an insurance claim without going to court or trial.
Common Car Accident Passenger Injuries
Passenger car accident injuries are often similar to injuries sustained by drivers. Car accident injuries can range from moderate to severe, and even be fatal. Receiving medical attention early is critical -both for the best chance at recovery and for your legal case.
Common car accident passenger injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Emotional stress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Pain and suffering
When Two Drivers Are at Fault in an Injury Accident Near Philadelphia
Sometimes both the driver of another vehicle and the passenger’s driver are at fault in an accident. For example, another driver might have been 75 percent at fault while the passenger’s driver was 25 percent to blame. The passenger retains the right to collect the proportional share of damages from each of the drivers.
Although it’s unlikely, a percentage of fault in a motor vehicle accident can be attributable to a passenger. For example, a passenger might distract a driver or even grab the steering wheel. When something like that happens in Pennsylvania, the passenger’s damages award can be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to him or her. For example, a $100,000 award will be reduced to $75,000 if the passenger is determined to be 25 percent negligent. No award would be allowed under Pennsylvania law if the passenger is determined to be more than 50 percent comparatively negligent.
If the passenger’s driver is uninsured, or another driver who causes a collision is uninsured, the passenger might be able to make a claim under his or her own uninsured motorist coverage or UM coverage. Also, if the automobile that caused the accident only has minimum policy limits of $15,000, the passenger could make a claim for underinsurance benefits (UIM) under his or her own policy. This is where an experienced insurance attorney like Edith Pearce can make sure you are maximizing your settlement by proceeding against all insurance policies and in a particular order so as not to waive your claims. An attorney from our law firm can interpret any applicable policy language for you and advise you accordingly.
Contact a Philadelphia Area Car Accident Lawyer today
Special legal considerations apply to passengers. When passengers get injured in a motor vehicle accident, it’s almost always the fault of somebody else. Don’t give the opposing insurer a recorded statement or medical authorization without consulting an attorney.
If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. Philadelphia car accident lawyer Edith Pearce, the founder of The Pearce Law Firm, knows the “ins and outs” of the auto insurance business, as she worked as an attorney for years for a major auto insurance company.