Do you know what to do when you're injured in an auto accident as a passenger? Cases will differ depending on the circumstance and relationships, but injured passengers have rights. You deserve compensation from the negligent driver or drivers to allow you to move past your injuries. To obtain the compensation you deserve as a passenger injured in a car accident, you will likely need a skilled car accident lawyer such as Gary Burger and the Burger Law team.
Burger Law has recovered millions of dollars for car accident victims. We work relentlessly until the negligent party is held to account and the insurance company provides the settlement our client needs and deserves. Speak to us about your case today for free at 314-542-2222.
What Should I Do When I'm Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
Things can seem confusing for the passenger in a car accident. It is very unlikely that, as the passenger, you have any fault in the events that led to the accident. If you didn't do anything wrong and you were injured, you should be allowed to seek compensation for damages. But who is paying for those damages? How do you pursue them?
You may have multiple options when you're injured as the passenger in a car accident. Who is liable for your injuries and how you receive coverage depends on who is at fault for causing the accident and how you are related to them.
It is important to remember that, immediately after the accident occurs, you may not know for certain who is at fault for the accident. Even if you believe one driver was completely responsible, it is prudent to collect the contact and insurance information of all parties or drivers involved in the accident. This ensures that, when the time comes to file a claim, you are able to file against the right parties.
The Other Driver
If you were riding in the car with someone and another driver causes an accident, you could have a claim against the other driver's insurance policy. This is a third-party claim on the other driver's liability coverage. However, this claim is limited by the driver's policy limits. Policy limits have both a per person maximum as well as a per accident maximum. So if you are not the only person injured in the accident, it is likely that you will not receive compensation equal to the value of your claim.
If you were injured in an accident caused by the driver of the car you were in, you could have a claim against your driver's insurance policy. Missouri and Illinois are both tort states and, unlike no-fault states, they do not require all drivers to have a personal injury protection (or PIP) or medical payments insurance plan. For drivers who do not carry this coverage, your claim as a passenger will be through their bodily injury coverage.
If you were the passenger while a family member or member of your household was driving, some policies might consider you as a covered individual and therefore would not allow you to file a third-party claim. However, in the Missouri case of State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. C. v. Ballmer, it was established that this exclusion of coverage for family members is not enforceable up to the state's minimum liability coverage requirements. In other words, if you are the passenger of a family member who is driving at the time of the accident, you have the right to pursue a claim of up to the policy limit minimum.
Currently, Missouri has the following liability limit minimums:
- $25,000 per person for injuries
- $50,000 per accident
- $10,000 in property damage
You may be able to file claims against both drivers' insurance policies in the case of an accident where both drivers are found to have a percentage of fault. This is the case in both Missouri and Illinois because both states are comparative fault states. If an accident occurs where one driver is primarily at fault but the other driver also contributed to the accident when it could have been avoided, both drivers may be assigned a percentage of blame or fault. If one driver was 85% responsible for the accident while the other driver was 15% responsible, as the passenger you are allowed to pursue 85% of your damages from the first driver and the remaining 15% from the second driver.
The last possible remedy for you as a passenger is to file a claim with your own insurance company. Many people are resistant to this idea, but it may still be a significant option to consider in your situation. It is actually quite affordable, does not require deductibles, and is unlikely to raise your premium rates. Your own insurance will particularly help if you carry optional medical payment--or Med Pay--coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. These plans will help fill in the gaps left by the policy limits of the drivers' insurance policies when your damages exceed those limits.
Missouri and Illinois Car Accident Lawyer | Burger Law
If you are injured while riding in a vehicle as a passenger, it is important that you are aware of your rights and options for compensation. To understand where to file your claim and to get the full compensation you deserve, you need a reputable car accident law firm on your side. The team at Burger Law is experienced in even highly complex and difficult car accident cases. We understand car accidents and are not afraid to demand what you are owed.
Let us help you with your accident and get you the damages you deserve. Take the first step by sending us a message or giving us a call at 314-542-2222 right away. Our lawyers are available to speak to you about your case for free and begin fighting for your compensation.