Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.
As a passenger, you have the same rights as the driver of a vehicle to be compensated for your injuries following an accident.
It is crucial to first identify who is at fault for the accident. Even though you may not have played a role, you still deserve relief for your medical bills and missed time from work.
The car accident attorneys at Malman Law would like to discuss the factors that go into receiving a settlement offer as a passenger in a car accident.
In 2020, 18,525 passengers were injured in motor vehicle crashes in Illinois. These people had no idea what risk they were facing when they went along for the ride.
The insurance company must determine who was at fault for the accident before any type of settlement can be reached. In car accidents, an accident is typically caused by negligence.
Negligence is the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person who have exercised in a similar situation. A person who displays negligence behind the wheel puts other road users in harm’s way.
In order to establish negligence, the following elements must be present:
Illinois is an “at-fault” or tort state. This means that whichever driver causes an accident is responsible for paying out of their insurance for any losses or injuries.
If you share no responsibility for an accident, then your insurance will pay out nothing. If both drivers share responsibility for the accident, then you may be able to file a claim with both insurance companies.
Illinois law requires that all drivers have the following minimum liability coverage:
This is the minimum amount of car insurance that every Illinois driver must carry. However, these limits rarely cover drivers and passengers who suffer severe injuries. It is always best to carry more insurance to cover injuries and vehicle damage in more serious accidents.
In Illinois, you do have the option of buying personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This optional coverage will pay for your medical bills and lost earnings, no matter which driver is to blame.
The average compensation for injured car accident victims is about $29,700. Unfortunately, insurance companies are often unwilling to compensate injured passengers at the same amount as injured drivers.
As a passenger, you are rarely at fault in an accident since you are not operating the vehicle. You will be able to make a passenger injury claim in order to be compensated for your injuries.
If the other driver is to blame for the crash, you can bring a third-party claim against the other driver’s insurance carrier.
When you are related to the driver of the vehicle you rode in, you may already have coverage under the driver’s insurance policy. If your family member is driving and causes an accident, you may forfeit your right to pursue further compensation.
This caveat is not usually the case with extended family. It is important to read the fine print in every insurance policy.
In some accidents, passengers have a greater risk of getting injured. The front passenger is vulnerable if the vehicle suffers a side impact collision, like being T-boned.
Recent research points to rear passengers being in the greatest danger. There is a lack of safety protections for rear passengers as opposed to those sitting up front.
Rear seats are not equipped with front airbags, meaning that rear passengers may hit their heads on other parts of the car interior during a crash. Rear seat belts do not have force-limiters, meaning that back seat riders have a greater risk of chest injuries.
If you can avoid sitting in the backseat, you should. However, if the car is crowded and you have no other options, it is best to sit in the middle seat in the back. In the event that you are in a rollover, the middle seat passenger has less force exerted upon them than those passengers sitting in window seats.
A passenger may be able to receive compensation for their losses, which is known as damages. Damages aim to make the injured party “whole” again.
Damages in a car accident come in many forms. Some damages are easily quantifiable, and are known as special damages.
Special damages include:
Other damages do not have a specific monetary value, but they affect a person’s quality of life. This category of damages is known as general damages.
General damages include:
Usually, the first offer made by an insurance company is low and will not cover all your expenses. During the process of negotiating the best settlement, you can accept or reject an insurance company’s offer, or you can make a counteroffer.
If you do decide to accept the insurance company’s offer, you will sign a waiver, which will prohibit you from collecting further compensation for your claim.
There are a few situations in which you may want to consider filing a lawsuit:
The best decision you can make is to discuss your case with a car accident attorney. A car accident attorney can help you in negotiating a settlement that covers your needs and take your case to trial if necessary.
A car accident can shake your sense of security. Chances are that if you were a passenger in a car crash, you had no control over the accident. You deserve an award that will put you on the road to recovery. Contact Malman Law today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.