Can I Recover as a Passenger after a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Posted on : June 28, 2017
by : Carlos Alvarez Tostado
Drivers aren’t the only people who run the risk of being injured in a car accident. Passengers are equally likely to get hurt—sometimes even more likely. If you were hurt as a passenger in a car accident, you may have concerns about what happens next. How do you get the compensation you need to recover? Will you have to sue the driver to get the full value of your injuries? Read on to learn more about the process of seeking recovery as a passenger involved in a crash in California.
Passengers are not responsible for driver safety
As a general rule, passengers have an easier time recovering for their injuries than do drivers. This is because passengers are rarely to blame for an accident. California law states that passengers have a responsibility to protect their own safety to a certain extent. For example, if a passenger was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, then that passenger’s ability to recover money damages may be reduced according to the extent to which they could have limited their injuries by wearing a seat belt. Passengers may also be found to bear some responsibility for their injuries if the passenger knew that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash. On the rare occasion where a passenger behaved in some distracting or dangerous way that caused the driver to crash, the driver may use this fact as the basis for their defense against a claim of liability or even for a claim for money damages against the passenger.
Aside from these very limited circumstances, passengers should be able to recover the full amount of their damages from the at-fault driver. Drivers have a duty to both the other drivers on the road as well as their passengers to drive reasonably and safely at all times. When drivers fail to uphold this duty and serious injuries result, they can be held liable to the victims of their negligent or reckless behavior, including passengers in their own vehicle or others.
Receiving coverage for your injuries
The route that passengers should take to obtain money for their injuries will depend on the circumstances surrounding the crash. You will likely be able to seek recovery from the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver, whether it was the driver of the other car or the one in which you were a passenger. In some cases, a passenger may need to seek compensation from their own insurance carrier. Sometimes, more than one vehicle may be at fault, or you may need to sue the insurer so that the full cost of your injuries is covered. It is best to contact a seasoned California personal injury attorney immediately after your accident and before agreeing to settle your claims, to ensure you receive the full amount you’re owed after an accident.
For assistance with seeking damages after a Southern California traffic accident, contact the dedicated and effective San Diego personal injury lawyers at the Banker’s Hill Law Firm for a consultation, at 619-230-0330.