Passengers don’t expect to get into a car crash when traveling with friends or family. However, passengers accounted for 62% of U.S. deaths in motor vehicle accidents in 2019. While this is down from a high of 77% in 2000, it still accounts for thousands of deaths and many times that injuries every year.
If you’ve recently been injured as a passenger in a car accident, knowing how to claim damages can help you get the compensation you need. Depending on who is at fault, you may have to seek damages from the driver of the car you’re in, the driver of the other vehicle, or possibly both. The experienced Utah car accident lawyers at Great West Law can help you navigate this complex process.
Passengers Can Seek Compensation from Their Driver
If you’re a passenger in a car and get injured during a collision, you may qualify for compensation from the driver. It can be uncomfortable to take legal action against the driver of the car you were riding in, especially if they are a relative or close friend, but remember that the money is almost always coming from their insurance rather than their personal bank account, so it isn’t harming them financially if you file a claim.
Furthermore, you have a right to compensation, unless you want to be paying from your own pockets. Your injury-related medical costs can be substantial if you are paying out of pocket, so filing a claim may be your best choice.
Utah requires drivers to have a minimum of $3,000 of personal injury protection (PIP), but up to $100,000 in coverage can be purchased. This coverage pays for each driver’s medical costs associated with the accident, including injuries suffered by their passengers. If your expenses are within this amount, you can file a third-party claim with the driver’s insurance company.
If your injuries exceed the driver’s coverage limits, and your driver is at fault for the crash, there is additional insurance you can go after. Drivers in Utah are also required to purchase bodily injury liability insurance: a minimum of $25,000 per person and $65,000 per accident.
After receiving medical attention, contact a skilled car accident lawyer to help you determine if you’re eligible for compensation from your car’s driver.
Seeking Damages from the Driver of the Other Vehicle
Injured passengers in no-fault car insurance states like Utah can’t make a liability claim against the other vehicle’s driver unless:
- That driver is at fault for the crash,
- The injured passenger’s own driver’s insurance benefits don’t fully cover their medical expenses, and
- The injured passenger meets the serious injury threshold.
The serious injury threshold requirements include having medical costs exceeding $3,000 or suffering permanent disfigurement, impairment, or disability.
Your best course of action is to work with a skilled attorney from Great West Injury Lawyers who can help you navigate the complex legal terrain of no-fault injury claims in Utah. They can investigate the circumstances of your case to determine how to approach making a claim for compensation.
Filing a Claim with Your Own Insurance
You can also make a claim with your own auto insurance company instead of filing against other drivers, or even in addition to other claims. This situation applies when the involed drivers don’t have car insurance or lack sufficient liability coverage to meet your expenses. Filing a claim with your own provider can help you pay for some or all of your medical bills without waiting until you receive compensation from another insurer.
What if Both Drivers Are at Fault?
Utah uses modified comparative negligence to determine fault in car accidents, meaning drivers are assigned a fault percentage based on their driving actions. For instance, a speeding driver is considered partially at fault even if the other driver caused the accident. Passengers are rarely assigned any fault in a car accident unless they commit blatant negligence that caused their driver to crash.
If multiple drivers are at fault for the accident, you can claim damages against each driver as an injured passenger based on their percentage of fault. For example, if one driver is 30% at fault and the other driver is 70% at fault, you will get 30% of your compensation from the first driver and 70% from the second.
Actions to Take After Your Crash
To receive maximum compensation for your injury, take these steps after your accident:
- Call 911 and report the accident
- Get the names and contact information of all parties involved
- Write down insurance company information for both drivers, including the name of the insurance company and their policy number
- A description of the other driver’s vehicle: document the make, model, color, and license plate number
- Photos or videos of the accident scene and your injuries
- Names and contact information of any witnesses
If you plan on filing a liability claim, you will need a copy of the police report. This document contains vital information about the accident scene and helps determine fault.
You will also need all medical records from any treatment you received for your injuries. These records will prove your injury and their related costs directly result from your accident, allowing you to receive fair compensation.
What Does Compensation Cover?
Compensation covers actual damages you suffer due to the accident. These damages can include medical costs, lost wages, and your property damaged in the crash. You may also claim pain and suffering damages, but these intangible damages can be hard to quantify without the help of a lawyer.
In some cases, you may seek punitive damages against those at fault if your injuries are severe. Punitive damages move beyond compensation for your recovery and seek to punish those responsible for their excessively negligent conduct. A typical example of when a case may result in punitive damages is a drunk driving crash.
To determine the amount of punitive damages to ask for, you should consult a knowledgeable attorney who will advise you on the amount you can collect.
Get Help Filing Your Passenger Accident Claim
After a car accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company may rush to propose a settlement. Avoid agreeing to a settlement before consulting with a lawyer experienced in car accidents. Taking an early settlement that doesn’t include all expenses or damages puts you at risk of paying for your injury out-of-pocket.
The claim process can be complicated, and trusting a reliable lawyer guarantees you don’t miss important details. Protect your rights by trusting your case to Great West Injury Law.
We can help you calculate your damages and file your accident claim. Our no-fee guarantee means you never see a bill unless you receive compensation. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation of your case.