Numerous passengers get injured in car crashes, and many wonder if they can receive compensation for their injuries. In California, passengers have the same rights as drivers in claiming damages. Let’s take a look at some of these passenger rights.
Claiming From the At-Fault Party or Parties
Under California’s “fault-based” auto insurance system, the party responsible for the accident is liable to pay compensation to the injured. An injured passenger may thus claim from the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
In some cases, there are multiple at-fault parties that contributed to the crash. For example, one driver may have failed to yield as another driver was speeding at an intersection. In such a case, an injured passenger may claim compensation from all negligent parties, even if one of those parties was the driver of the vehicle they were in.
Could a passenger be partially responsible for a crash? Passengers are rarely found responsible for car accidents, but insurance companies may look for any indication that an injured passenger at least contributed to it. They might argue, for instance, that the passenger was distracting the driver of the vehicle.
This is important because California follows the “comparative negligence” doctrine, where a claimant’s compensation could be reduced if they were partly at fault in the accident. If you are claiming damages as an injured passenger, you may still want a personal injury attorney on your side to protect your claim.
If the At-Fault Party is Your Friend or Family
It may feel awkward to assign fault or make a claim if the negligent driver is someone you know. However, you’d mostly be dealing with their insurance company. If you’ve hired a competent attorney, you can further minimize the personal strain while making your claim.
One potential complication in a passenger injury claim is if the at-fault driver is your own family member. This might mean that you are named as an insured person on their auto insurance policy and thus cannot file a liability claim against it. In this case, you’ll need to explore other compensation options, such as your medical insurance or other applicable policies. Consult with an experienced injury lawyer to see your best next steps.
If the At-Fault Party is Uninsured
If the negligent driver has inadequate insurance or does not have auto insurance at all, one potential policy that may cover you is your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). This allows you to claim payments from your own insurer in the event that the at-fault driver cannot compensate you.
However, UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory for California motorists. If you have not purchased UM/UIM, you’ll need to look into your other insurance policies, such as medical insurance.
If the Passenger Was not Wearing a Seatbelt
Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory for all car occupants in California. Many injured passengers have asked us: Can I still claim compensation if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred?
The answer is yes; you still have the right to claim damages even if you didn’t have a seatbelt on. However, this will greatly affect how the insurance company treats your claim. The insurer will most likely use this safety violation against your case, asserting that you were being negligent about your own safety. They might also argue that the seatbelt could have prevented your injury.
If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt when you were injured, you’ll want a skilled personal injury lawyer to represent you opposite an argumentative insurance company.
If Multiple Passengers are Involved
Multiple injured persons means multiple claimants against the at-fault party, which could mean that the case value exceeds the at-fault party’s insurance limits. When this happens, each claimant may feel pressured to accept a lower settlement than they deserve.
As an injured passenger, you have the right to assert proper compensation for your losses. You also have the right to get the representation of an attorney who can fight for the amount you need and deserve. Get a reliable car accident lawyer if you are pursuing a claim in a multi-passenger accident.
Call a Temecula Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The Zucker Law Firm has successfully represented injured claimants in Temecula and surrounding California cities. We have obtained maximum settlements for many clients over the years, including car passengers who were having a difficult time facing insurance companies. Consult with us for free about your passenger injury. Call (951) 699-2100 today or send us a message through our online form.