Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Receive Compensation?

Gabe Levin | January 7, 2023 | Auto Accidents
Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Receive Compensation?

As the passenger in a vehicle, you have no control over what happens on the road. You cannot act to prevent accidents, nor will your actions likely cause one. Unfortunately, that lack of control or responsibility as a passenger will not prevent you from suffering substantial injuries.

Like the driver of the vehicle, you deserve compensation for your injuries—but how much should you expect? Read on to learn more from the experienced car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim as a Passenger in a Car Accident

Passenger Injuries after Car Accident As a car accident passenger you have the same right to file a claim as the vehicle’s driver. You may need to file your personal injury claim to seek compensation from the insurance company for the driver that caused the accident. You can also file a personal injury claim against the driver of the vehicle you were in if that driver caused or contributed to your accident.

The devastating consequences of a crash are just as possible for passengers as the drivers themselves. According to a recent Traffic Safety Facts report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passengers were injured in over one-quarter of auto accidents. Many times, they believe they have fewer rights to recover their damages than the one driving the vehicle they were in. However, they actually have an advantage because they’re almost never liable for the crash.

An attorney in auto accidents and personal injury can help put together your injury claim and collect evidence related to the accident. For example, an experienced personal injury attorney may help prove which driver caused the accident or identify any other factors that caused or contributed to the accident. Two of the most common factors uncovered include mechanical failure and employer liability.

Mechanical Failure

Crashes due to mechanical or equipment failure are much more common than people think. The NHTSA report mentioned previously recorded nearly 6,000 passenger deaths in auto accidents in a single year. That same year, 664 fatalities occurred simply due to tire failure—well over 10 percent of all vehicle deaths caused by one type of equipment.

If a mechanical failure caused your accident, you might have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or the part that failed. While a vehicle owner must maintain that vehicle properly, a part that fails prematurely and causes an accident can make the vehicle or product manufacturer liable for the accident.

Mechanical failure may also result from a mechanic’s error. If they made improper repairs, failed to note a problem during the inspection, or damaged a part during their work, that mechanic may also share liability for the accident.

Employer Liability

Professional drivers take to your area’s roads daily for commercial purposes. They may be a delivery driver or need to transport supplies to and from their workplace. Uber and Lyft drivers have also proliferated and are often in a rush. Big trucks fill the highways and interstates, carrying massive freight—and increasing the risk of serious injury when they aren’t careful.

Ultimately, these drivers bear liability for all actions they take behind the wheel.

The driver’s employer may also share liability:

  • If the employer pressures the driver to continue driving in unsafe conditions, including when the driver suffers from illness or inebriation that prevents him from safely operating the vehicle
  • If the employer pressures the driver to exceed the federally mandated number of hours he can spend behind the wheel
  • If the employer does not properly maintain a vehicle retained for company use
  • If the employer continues to employ a driver who’s caused multiple accidents or has a long history of moving violations that could have caused accidents

Identifying other parties who share liability for your accident can substantially increase the compensation you receive for your injuries. Working with an attorney can help you better identify those individuals and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

How Much Compensation Should You Expect from Your Accident?

The compensation you should receive for your accident usually depends on two key factors: your financial losses related to the accident and the means of the party liable for the accident. Whether it was caused by the other driver or the driver you were traveling with, severe auto-accident injuries can leave you with substantial financial losses.

Working with an attorney can help you calculate those losses, prove the expenses, and include them in your claim against the driver who caused the accident. Your losses could include a long list of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Your Medical Expenses

Medical expenses often quickly mount following an auto accident. Fortunately, you can seek compensation for as many of those expenses as possible, making it easier to pay medical bills and keep your finances on track after the accident. To do so, you must accurately keep track of all medical expenses. Remember that you may receive multiple medical bills for some procedures, including emergency room treatment or surgery, and don’t leave any stone unturned.

Your medical expenses may include the following:

Emergency treatment. Ambulance rides alone can be extremely expensive, and the No Surprises Act doesn’t cover ambulances. The cost of a single ambulance trip could be especially high if you needed to be taken to a hospital a large distance away. Typically, an ambulance will take you to an emergency room, where you’ll receive immediate care for your injuries. You may need to pay a separate emergency room bill and bills for emergency procedures, such as x-rays, surgeries, and medications—and that’s just the beginning.

Hospitalization. Many types of auto accident injuries, such as spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, and organ damage, require lengthy hospitalization. You may find yourself admitted directly from the emergency room. Every day you stay in the hospital, your medical expenses likely increase. Not only will you pay for the time spent in the hospital, including a possible stay in the ICU, but you may also receive bills for follow-up procedures. Additional surgeries, scans, tests, and other procedures can result in a small fortune lost to the accident.

Scans, X-rays, and diagnostic procedures. To establish the extent of your injuries and follow your healing progress, your doctors will take multiple scans and tests to help them diagnose your injuries and keep an eye on your prognosis. These diagnostic procedures can add up substantially over time, especially if your doctors need to monitor your healing closely and throughout an extended period.

Procedures, including surgical treatment for your injuries. You may need several procedures to help aid your recovery. Surgery is often necessary to repair internal bleeding or broken bones. You may face a facility fee for the use of the hospital during your surgery—along with bills for the anesthesia, medications, supporting staff, and often a separate bill from the surgeon.

Durable medical equipment. Expenses could include durable medical equipment to aid in mobility or protect your body during recovery, especially if you face severe injuries. Crutches, braces, and wheelchairs may all count as durable medical equipment. This equipment is often expensive, especially if you need to rent durable medical equipment for the long term.

Therapies. Following your injuries, you may need substantial therapy over an extended period. Numerous therapies may be necessary to aid you in your journey to the fullest possible recovery. These include:

  • Physical therapy. A trained expert can lead you through physical exercises designed to restore your body to the same strength and flexibility it had before the accident—or as close to it as possible. If you’re suffering paralysis due to a spinal cord injury, physical therapy can help you maintain muscle tone for limbs that no longer move properly.
  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapy helps you relearn tasks you can no longer perform normally due to your injuries. For example, if you suffer a spinal cord injury, you may need to learn how to move from your wheelchair to your bed and vice versa. If you suffer an arm amputation, you may need to relearn how to perform tasks with your non-dominant hand or two-handed tasks with one hand. Occupational therapy can help substantially restore your quality of life after an accident with severe injuries.
  • Psychological therapy. Many accident victims need to undergo psychological therapy to cope with their limitations or work through the trauma caused by accidents. For example, you might be left with debilitating PTSD symptoms, feelings of inadequacy, or the loneliness of isolation. A psychologist or psychiatrist often becomes necessary, and sometimes for life.

Modifications to your home or vehicle. If you suffer severe injuries that restrict your mobility, you may need to modify your home to make it easier for you to get around after your accident.

This could require extensive and costly modifications to your home, such as:

  • Installing wheelchair ramps, so you can come and go with ease and freedom
  • Equipping interior stairs with a lift to ensure entire levels of your house are not made inaccessible
  • Widening every doorway in your home to give you full dominion of your house once more
  • Purchasing or modifying a vehicle with hand controls and/or wheelchair access
  • Renovating your bathroom(s) to simplify your self-care routine

Depending on your insurance coverage, you may be hit with any of these medical costs, some of which may be for life. It can be incredibly frustrating when you were injured due to another’s negligence and didn’t have any control over the vehicle you were in. Still, your medical challenges and expenses will mount just as much as they would if you were the driver.

The highest restoration to your previous quality of life will only come with the assistance of an extremely competent and experienced auto accident attorney. After you reach a stable condition, contact a trusted personal injury and car accident attorney to discuss your medical costs. They’ll help you calculate and record them properly to draft the most effective personal injury claim possible.

Remember that you may not have full knowledge of your medical bills until several weeks or even months after your car accident, as your medical expenses could increase if you suffer complications or setbacks in the healing process. This is all the more reason to reach out for assistance early on because the quickly mounting bills can be extremely hard to keep track of.

You’ll need help simplifying the process so you can focus on your recovery, plan ahead, and spare time for the next essential task: calculating the income you’ve lost due to the injuries.

Lost Income

Whether your injuries prevent you from returning to work in the short or long term, you and your family require compensation for losing your labor. How much time you miss at work will depend on numerous factors, which a personal injury attorney can help simplify.

The main foundations for calculating lost income include:

  • The extent of your injuries. The severity of your injuries will directly impact your livelihood. Highly debilitating injuries will likely prevent you from being able to work for an extended period, while minor injuries may allow you to return to work soon. The most severe injuries may even render work impossible into the foreseeable future. Depending on the prognosis, your injuries alter your ability to maintain your and your family’s livelihood.
  • The type of injury you suffered. With some injuries, you can work from home or modify your office, workload, and duties. To make it easier for you to perform work tasks despite your injuries. Unfortunately, other injuries may prevent you from making those vital modifications.
  • The type of work you perform. The type of work you perform can substantially impact how much work you must miss due to injuries suffered as a passenger in a car accident. While you can easily modify some jobs or make accommodations that will make it easier for you to work, you may need to miss work in other positions longer. For example, if you work in a customer service role, you may return to work despite broken bones as long as you can perform your normal job tasks. On the other hand, if you work in a warehouse, broken bones might prevent you from working until you recover.

Talk to an attorney to learn more about what constitutes lost wages for passengers in a car accident. You’ll likely need to calculate all time missed at work, including time off for appointments, therapies, and procedures. The time missed immediately after the injury must be accounted for—but it’s hard to figure all of this out when you’re suffering through the initial shock of it all.

When trying to move your claim, the insurance company will likely minimize your injuries, alleging that some are at least partly due to preexisting injuries. Their jobs compel them to relentlessly seek any legal excuse to minimize their clients’ liability, giving you an uphill battle. They often offer weak settlements, knowing you’ll be further stressed by drawn-out technical court moves that could easily leave you hurt, in debt, and without future work.

These problems can be overcome most effectively by hiring a personal injury lawyer passionate about helping you recover the maximum possible compensation for your case. They can handle communication with the insurance companies, helping you avoid even accidentally saying anything they can use against you in court.

While they are likely to view your damages and injuries as a cold, mechanical equation, your attorney can humanize the pain and injuries their client caused you. If you’ve lost wages—and worse, will continue to—then you must receive compensation for the financial damages caused by the accident.

Pain and Suffering

While most damages associated with an auto accident have quantifiable values, pain and suffering may prove more difficult to calculate. Working with an attorney enables you to more effectively include all the suffering you face due to your accident. Suffering may include physical pain and emotional concerns, such as loss of social interactions or activities you planned to enjoy before your accident.

Damages for pain and suffering are usually more likely to be awarded by the courts when the physical injuries and lost wages involved are extensive. It’s important to ensure your medical expenses and lost wages are proven as thoroughly as possible because this will give any pain and suffering component a stronger foundation.

Loss of enjoyment of life may seem highly subjective, but there are tried-and-true ways to boost the odds of their acceptance alongside your other expenses. Even outside of court, a robust and skillfully established pain and suffering claim will raise the total amount that the insurance companies will have to work within any settlement offers. Your attorney will know how to address pain and suffering claims in your local area.

Who Caused Your Accident?

The amount of compensation you receive for your injuries as a passenger in a car accident may also depend on who caused your accident. In Pennsylvania, drivers must carry a minimum of $15,000 of bodily injury coverage for accidents they cause. Other parties, including commercial drivers, vehicle manufacturers, and mechanics, may carry higher-limit insurance policies that can increase your compensation. Finding multiple parties who contributed to the accident can also increase the amount you receive for your injuries.

How Many People Suffered Injuries in Your Accident?

gabriel levin Attorney
Gabriel Levin | Car Accident Attorney

While Pennsylvania auto insurance provides a minimum of $15,000 coverage for a single individual injured in an accident, it may provide only $30,000 coverage for everyone injured in that accident. As a passenger in a car accident, you may have to share benefits with the vehicle’s driver or other passengers in the car at the time of the accident. This may reduce the compensation you, specifically, receive for your injuries.

Suppose you suffered injuries as a passenger in an auto accident. In that case, an experienced personal injury attorney could help you calculate the compensation you can recover for your injuries, then help you pursue that compensation.

Every case is unique, and it is almost impossible to calculate a potential claim for damages before working with an attorney. They can help you evaluate the extent of your injuries, the facts of the accident, and the potential legal liability of the parties involved. Contact a car accident lawyer near you as soon as possible to discuss your accident and your legal right to compensation for your injuries.

Gabriel Levin - Attorney

Attorney Gabriel Levin is known as a tenacious fighter who protects his client’s interests as though they were his own; he has tried hundreds of cases and handled a large variety of civil matters, from minor injuries to the catastrophic. Mr. Levin prides himself on preparing every case for trial. While some attorneys view trial as a last resort, he prepares with the assumption that his client’s case will be decided by the jury. Clients know that Gabriel Levin is a very responsive attorney, keeps client fully informed, and always gets back to them in a timely manne

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