If you have been injured as a passenger in a vehicle crash, you may be wondering if you could be compensated and how. The simple answer is yes, passengers have the right to file an injury compensation claim, just like drivers. The claims process for an injured passenger is the same as that for an injured driver.
California is a “fault-based insurance” state, which means that the at-fault party is liable to pay for your injuries. Typically, you will need to file an injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, unless the driver himself/herself pays for your injuries out of their own pocket.
In pursuing an insurance claim, you need to establish that the at-fault driver caused your injuries. The insurer may likely try to defend the driver to avoid paying you, or attempt to undervalue your injuries to minimize your payout. Be prepared with strong evidence and negotiation skills to fight for the compensation you deserve. It is wise to enlist a personal injury lawyer to help you deal with insurance company tactics.
In some cases, an insurance claim may not be enough to cover your car accident damages, or the insurance negotiation process simply fails. In such a case, you may have to consider filing a lawsuit. Passengers also have the right to sue an at-fault driver in an auto accident. However, California’s Statute of Limitations gives you only two years to bring an injury lawsuit. This means that you shouldn’t delay your injury claim, as this could cost you the chance for full compensation.
Liability Issues In A Passenger Injury Claim
If Your Own Driver Is At Fault
If you were a passenger of the driver who caused the crash, you are generally still entitled to claim compensation from their insurance company. Complications arise when that driver is a close relative of yours, such as your parent or spouse. It is likely that you are named as an insured person under their insurance policy. If this is the case, you will probably be barred from claiming against that policy, as it would be tantamount to claiming against your own insurer.
You should consult with a lawyer to help you find other legal avenues for compensation.
If The At-Fault Driver Has Insufficient Insurance
If the driver who caused the crash cannot cover all your injuries or is not insured at all, you may turn to your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage to help pay your bills. However, this policy is not mandatory in California. Ideally, you have purchased this as an optional auto insurance coverage, but if not, talk to your injury attorney to find other legal remedies.
How Much Compensation Can An Injured Passenger Receive in California?
There is no true average amount of compensation among injury claims because the outcomes vary widely. Each case is a unique combination of factors such as the severity of the injury, the current and future expenses of the victim, and the circumstances leading up to the accident.
In general, you may be compensated for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that have a dollar amount such as medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, and lost income. Non-economic damages are less tangible, like pain and suffering, mental or emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Though these aren’t financial losses, they can be assigned monetary amounts to recompense you.
Your lawyer should help you calculate the true value of your case, factoring in not just your expenses immediately after the accident but also related costs that you might have to face in the longer term.
Contact Barrios & Machado
If you or a loved one has been injured as a vehicle passenger, learn what you could be entitled to and how you may maximize your compensation. Talk to us at Barrios & Machado for experienced legal guidance.
Call us today at (714) 515-9696 for a free case evaluation.