Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler July 6, 2015

What are passenger rights in an auto accident? You may need to know if you or a family member was hurt in a crash as a passenger or “ride-along” in a vehicle. You should understand you may have a legal right to claim payments for your injury losses.

Liability is Not an Issue

In fact, you may have an easier time asserting your legal rights than an injured driver, since liability in a crash is typically not an issue for an injured passenger. Rather, in virtually every case, a driver is liable for a crash.

The passenger need not prove this liability. The passenger only needs to prove damages, or costs resulting from injuries or other traumas related to the crash.

However, keep in mind that there are behaviors that may neutralize your injury claim as a passenger. You may be unable to sue for damages if you caused distractions to the driver, encouraged the driver to speed, failed to wear your seat belt or did anything else which made you negligent, not just the driver. Remember there are distinct differences between negligence and liability and it is important to understand how your behaviors may impact your negligence in a car accident.

When Both Drivers Are At Fault

In some cases, an injured passenger could make injury claims against both drivers in a two-vehicle accident, provided both drivers shared liability. That would mean filing claims with each driver’s insurance company or having an injury lawyer negotiate a settlement with both companies. When both drivers are at fault, things can get tricky for injured passengers, who can get caught in the middle of a dispute over their shared liability.

If each driver is found to be 50% liable, that simplifies things for a passenger. But if one driver is found to be 75% at fault, that driver’s insurer may dispute this and fight for a reduction in liability — while the passenger waits to get paid.

Whether you are a passenger of the driver who is more or less at fault does not affect your claim since, as a passenger, you were not at fault. However, when two drivers or their insurers fight over shared liability, that can delay a passenger’s injury claim being settled.

Med Pay Coverage

While waiting for a claim to be settled, you may be able to make a claim strictly for medical payments, or med pay coverage, under your own auto insurance policy — even though you were a passenger and not a driver in the wreck.

Med pay payments are not contingent on placing liability for the collision and thus can be made while liability is still being established. However, med pay only involves payments for your medical costs due to the accident, and not payments for your lost salary, pain and suffering, or any other costs to you resulting from the accident.

Typically, med pay is likely to have limits in the ballpark of $10,000 on a standard insurance policy. If that’s insufficient for your medical expenses, you still can file a claim with the insurance policies of the owner or driver of the vehicle or vehicles in the accident.

However, any money that you receive via med pay before a claim is settled will be deducted from the final settlement amount. You won’t be paid twice for your medical costs by receiving med pay in advance of the settlement.

When Several Passengers Are Injured

Another complicating factor involves when several passengers are injured. Then, each passenger will have a different claim for damages, and their combined claims may exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. That means passengers may have to settle for less than their claim is worth.

However, if more than one driver was at least partly at fault, claims can be filed against the insurance policies of each driver. By means of such multiple claims you may be able to get paid what your injury is worth.

Similar to med pay coverage, you won’t be allowed to “double dip,” or receive more money than your claim is worth. You can only use one claim to offset the inadequacy of the other.

If passengers are unable to receive a settlement for their injury claim under such circumstances, they can file a lawsuit against the driver’s insurer to claim what they believe their damages are worth.

Third Party Claims

These ridealong or passenger lawsuits are known as third-party claims. That’s because the plaintiff — the injured passenger — is making a claim under an insurance policy which isn’t their own. The passenger’s claim can be against:

  1. the insurance policy of the driver or owner of the car in which they rode at the moment of the accident
  2. the policy of the driver or owner of another vehicle in the accident

In some cases, a passenger also can file a claim with his or her own insurer provided they have the proper uninsured motorist coverage or under-insured motorist coverage. This must be purchased as a supplement to their own policy.

Passengers Related to Drivers

In many car wreck cases, passengers are related to drivers, whether a sibling, parent, spouse or child of the driver. If an injured passenger lives with or is related to the driver, the passenger likely cannot press a claim against the driver’s insurer. Rather, the passenger will be considered insured under that policy and cannot file a claim against it.

Another option is to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver personally, but that can be a poor option if the driver is a family member.

Get a Car Accident Lawyer

If you have any trouble collecting payments for your injury after an accident, get a car accident lawyer from Jim Adler & Associates to help you — and at no upfront cost to you.

The law firm can give you free legal advice when you contact us — and some advice right now. That advice is to purchase uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage with your own auto insurance policy to protect yourself in some claims, including claims as an injured passenger.

Contact a Jim Adler & Associates injury attorney today for more information about making your claim and protecting your legal rights after injury as a passenger in a traffic collision.

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Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.read more
Erick Becker
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01:20 06 May 17
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Bernard Orozco
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Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
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