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Can I File a Car Accident Claim If I Was the Passenger?

Posted on August 26, 2018

An injury from a car accident can be devastating. If you are a passenger and not in control of the incident, your injuries may be the result of negligence on the part of the person who caused the accident – who may also be the driver of the car you were in at the time of the accident. As a passenger of a car involved in an accident, you still have rights when someone drives irresponsibly or negligently.

What to Do as a Passenger After a Car Accident

Passengers in a vehicle involved in a crash are legally able to file damages against a driver. Insurance policies cover personal injury liability, including to passengers, with few exceptions. As a passenger is almost never liable for causing an accident, he or she has an easier time filing damage claims with insurance companies than the drivers involved in the crash.

Alabama is a shared liability state, meaning that the judiciary may determine that one or both drivers are responsible – even if the split is 95-5 – for an accident. Passengers seeking to file damage claims may file claims against one or both drivers in shared fault cases but must wait for a final determination of fault. Insurance companies will launch an investigation to decide fault for an accident, and passengers will need to file against one or both drivers depending on the situation, particularly if the two parties share fault in a multi-car crash.

Obviously, the first step after an accident is to receive prompt medical care. Auto accidents often leave injuries that only become apparent after the fact, and it is important to have a doctor check out a patient following an incident to make sure he or she is healthy and safe. Only then should an injured passenger seek to file claims against the responsible parties.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim as a Passenger

Once the insurance companies establish fault in the accident, it is time to launch a claim against the liable drivers. Two car accidents generally will involve a claim against both parties, while single car accidents only consider the single driver’s liability. Additionally, there are often restrictions on filing claims against a driver to whom the passenger is related, a situation which insurance companies view as paying out essentially to the driver at fault.

The procedure of filing a claim as a passenger follows the same path as any other auto accident, except that both drivers share liability in most cases. The damages will be split between parties based on how the judge determines liability for the accident. Additionally, in cases involving multiple passengers each injured party will be filing damages against the same guilty parties, possibly gaining more than coverages allow from the drivers’ insurance policies.

In the unlikely scenario that the passenger in question is liable for the accident, courts may reduce his or her damage claim or even throw it out altogether. Otherwise, courts will award damages based on the demonstrated coverage needed for medical payments. This is partially why it is important to receive quick and prompt medical attention, as it will impact what a court determines to be a proper payout for damages. Payout will only occur if there is demonstrable injury.

After seeking medical care, you should discuss the circumstances of your case with a Birmingham car accident attorney. Most car accidents are the result of driver negligence and, as a passenger, you shouldn’t have to pay for another’s irresponsibility.