When we discuss motor vehicle accidents, we mostly discuss the driver’s safety, injuries, and course of action. However, the passenger is sometimes neglected while they face the same or even worse injuries. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), passenger vehicle occupant deaths represented 63% of the 36,650 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018.
While passengers are typically familiar with the driver they are with, they may feel the stigma of hesitation to pursue a claim against them. However, we can help you work through this to make sure that you do not feel reluctant about being rightly and fairly compensated for your injuries from this accident caused by others.
At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries from a car accident, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, contact our office today for a free consultation.
Common Passenger Injuries
In the moments following a motor vehicle accident, you may feel in shock and frightened. But, there are important steps to take in this critical time to ensure that if you choose to pursue a claim, you were prepared. First, you should assess your condition by checking if you have any injuries. If you do, you should immediately call 911 for medical help so that you can be treated as soon as possible. You should still call 911 to call police officers to the scene of the accident. They will take note of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident in a police report. You should contact your insurance company once you are treated or back at your home to report the accident. Then, we recommend that you contact one of our experienced attorneys to help you navigate this difficult situation and work with your insurance company to ensure that you see a fair outcome.
After the accident, you may be dealing with some difficulties in life depending on your injuries. It may take hospitalization, surgery, and physical therapy to get back on your feet again. Some common passenger injuries include the following:
- Broken or sprained bones
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Neck or spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Paralysis or disability
Rights of Injured Passengers
Generally speaking, people have a right to compensation for their injuries when they were caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional action. Through an insurance claim, you could recover monetary damages for the damages that you incurred through this accident.
Illinois also has minimum insurance requirements for drivers to carry in case an accident occurs. A policy must provide at least $20,000 in property damage coverage for when it’s caused by the policyholder; at least $25,000 bodily injury and wrongful death liability coverage for when it’s caused by the policyholder; and at least $50,000 in total accident coverage for bodily injuries and wrongful deaths for when it’s caused by the policyholder.
Illinois is an at-fault state, meaning that passengers injured in a motor vehicle accident have the right to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy after an accident. As long as the passenger is able to prove that the driver is responsible for the accident, then they are justified in pursuing this insurance claim. If you are hesitant to file a claim due to your relationship with the driver, it is important to remember that their insurance company will be paying out the settlement, not the driver themselves. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries.
There is one limitation to these claims, and that is the “household exclusion.” This prevents a family member in the same household from suing another family member and is meant to prevent cases of insurance fraud. But there are exceptions, including if a non-family member was driving when the accident occurred.
How to Establish Liability
As the passenger in the situation, you should be able to prove that the driver was, in fact, at-fault for the accident from which you suffered injuries. To do this, you should be able to prove the four elements of negligence.
First, you should be able to prove that the driver owed a duty of care to you, and then that this duty of care was breached. This should be clear from the accident’s facts after a police report or investigation. Third, you should be able to prove that the driver’s actions or inactions were the only, direct cause of your injuries. And lastly, you must be able to prove that you did suffer real damages from this accident. Once you can successfully prove these four elements and establish that the driver is liable for your injuries, you should be compensated by their insurance company for the damages that our attorney will help to compile. We will do this by obtaining medical bills and records, pay stubs for lost wages that you experienced due to being out of work from your injuries, and more.
Another important factor to weigh in pursuing your insurance claim is the fact that Illinois is a comparative negligence state. This means that if the plaintiff had any part in causing the damages of the accident, then they can be partially liable for the damages. For example, the passenger may be found 20% liable while the driver is 80% liable for causing the accident. This means that the plaintiff would receive 80% of the settlement while the defendant receives the remaining 20% of it.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
Motor vehicle accidents are can be very serious in terms of the damages. Repairs to your vehicle can be tens of thousands of dollars, or it could be completely totaled. You may also have sustained some serious injuries requiring hospitalization or surgery. Common motor vehicle accident injuries include bruises and cuts, whiplash, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, neck or spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even death.
With our help, we will make sure your claim is successful and that you are fairly compensated for the damages and experience that you have had to endure. Some common damages that can be recovered after the accident include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death (in a wrongful death claim)
If you or a loved one has been injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, contact our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.