We hear a lot about driver's in car accidents being injured but what about passengers. The truth is that passengers are also injured in car accidents. According to 2015 report by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, there were a total of 12,628 occupants killed, of that number, 9,241 were the drivers while 3,357 were passengers The total occupants injured in passenger vehicle car accidents were 1,378,000. Out of that number almost four-hundred thousand (373,000) passengers were injured.
These numbers show that the driver of car is not the only one at risk when on the road. When a car accident happens and a passenger is injured or dies, who pays? The answer depends on the facts of the accident. In this article, we try to summarize the basics so that if you were a passenger in an Indiana car accident, you can have an idea of what to expect.
Passenger's Personal Injury Claim in Indiana
As a passenger in an Indiana car accident, you do not need to worry about getting the car fixed (property damage) or responsibility to another injured person. However, you do need to understand how to follow the process of making a claim if you are injured. You will need to send a demand letter that shows the other driver was at fault for the accident, that you suffered injuries, and the injuries were caused by the car accident. Indiana follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence, which means a party can recover for his injuries if he is not greater than 50% at fault for the accident. One thing about being a passenger, is passengers are typically not at fault, so it would seem that you would be eligible to receive full compensation.
Generally, the passenger would file a claim with the insurance company of the driver that was at fault for the accident. If that driver has little or no insurance, the passenger can then make a claim against the insurance for the vehicle that he was driving in. Sometimes, the passenger may need to make a claim against his or her own insurance. These would be the quickest and easiest way to get compensated for your injuries. However, a whole host of problems can arise. There are 3 specific issues to consider.
Relationship to Driver. Your relationship to the at-fault driver will dictate if you can receive compensation for your injuries. If your related to the at fault driver who was driving the car that you were a passenger in, you may not be able to make a claim because of Indiana's Guest Statute. In these situations, because you are a close relative, you will be excluded from making a claim against your family member.
Liability of Multiple Parties. There may be a dispute over who was responsible for the crash. Even though you do not have to worry about someone filing a claim against you (unless of a rare occurrence and you, as the passenger, struck the driver of your vehicle while the car was in motion, thus, causing the crash), you may need to worry about the percentage of fault for the other parties, including the driver of the vehicle you were in. You need to know who is responsible for the crash, so that you can file your third-party insurance claim(s) appropriately.
Therefore, if one driver is easily deemed 100 percent at fault, then you don't have to worry about who will pay what percentage. If the drivers and their respective insurance companies, however, dispute and bicker over liability, then your damage recovery will be in waiting. That said, you will recover, but you will have to file a claim with both drivers' insurance companies.
Proving Damages. In every case, you have to prove your damages. These damages can be medical and hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.
Overall, if you are a passenger and you were injured in a car accident, you can assume at worst you will recover medical expenses, and at most, though it may take some time, you could recover all the damages allowed under Indiana law, including any pain and suffering that was caused by the accident.
Why Do You Need Legal Representation?
If you have been injured in an auto accident while a passenger of a vehicle in LaPorte County, Indiana, you have rights to recover for your losses. You are not helpless even though you may feel like the process is overwhelming. If you would like to recover the full amount of compensation, then hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is a great initial step. Every case is different and the amount of potential compensation depends on the facts of the accident, the injuries and the evidence gathered. An experienced Indiana lawyer will know how to proceed with a thorough investigation so that your claim can begin on the right foot. To learn your rights and what kind of claim(s) you may be able to file, contact a lawyer today.
Contact Guy DiMartino Law Today
If you've been in injured as a passenger of a vehicle in LaPorte County, Indiana, you may need legal representation. Determining liability and coverage in these kinds of cases can be complicated and may require a detailed investigation. Guy S. DiMartino knows how to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident, and brings his experience as a doctor of chiropractic to understand your injuries. We act assertively so that you will receive the compensation you rightfully deserve under Indiana law.