blog home Car Accident Filing a Claim as “Just” a Passenger

By Renee Nordstrand on August 30, 2020

headlamp and light damage on a car

When you picture a car accident, you may assume that you are in the driver seat. However, it is just as likely that you are a passenger who does not have any control over the situation. A passenger can suffer serious injuries in a car collision, particularly when a vehicle is T-boned on the passenger side. If you have been hurt in a car crash when someone else was driving, you are entitled to file a claim for compensation.

As a passenger injured in a car collision, you have a strong claim, as it is clear you were likely not at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. You also have the advantage of being able to recover compensation from the driver of either vehicle involved in the crash. It is essential to seek damages to cover your medical expenses and time away from work, and to compensate you for all your losses, including pain and suffering.

When You Know the At-Fault Driver

If you are a passenger in someone’s vehicle, chances are you know the driver personally. If that driver causes a collision that leaves you injured, you may be reluctant to file a claim. It may even feel like a betrayal of the relationship you have with that person. However, you should be aware that your compensation is likely to come from an insurance company, not the driver’s pocket. You should also know that, in many cases, it is not necessary to file a lawsuit to recover compensation after a car accident. Our experienced Santa Barbara personal injury lawyer can negotiate skillfully with the insurance company on your behalf, ensuring that your friendship with the at-fault driver stays as intact as possible.

What You Need for a Successful Claim

Filing a successful claim, however, is not as easy as asking an insurance company for compensation. Certain elements must present for your case as a passenger injured in a car accident to be viable. These elements include:

Proof that your accident was caused by negligence or wrongdoing: Your attorney should investigate the accident promptly to determine fault and liability and to collect and preserve evidence to support your claim.

Evidence that your injuries resulted from the negligent or intentional actions of the at-fault party: It is essential to gather information from all parties involved in the crash and any eyewitnesses at the scene.

Proof that you are not a member of the at-fault driver’s household: If you are a member of the household of the driver who caused the accident, you may not be eligible to claim damages for liability.

Holding the Correct Party Accountable

It is likely that the driver who caused the crash is liable for your injuries. Every person who gets behind the wheel of a car has a duty of care toward passengers, as well as other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the roadway. That duty of care involves driving safely, following traffic laws, and not putting other people at risk.

If dangerous or poorly maintained roads contributed to the wreck, the city or another government entity may be liable. If the accident was caused by a defective, malfunctioning vehicle or part, the manufacturer may be responsible. You should be prepared to examine the accident, and figure out exactly what happened, as you may accidentally assign blame to the wrong person. Thankfully, our experienced attorneys can help you in that process.

If you have been seriously injured as a passenger in a car collision, call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022. Our Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys have more than 30 years of experience and a successful track record for our clients. We work on a contingency fee basis and offer a free consultation with no obligation.

Posted in: Car Accident