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How to File a Car Accident Claim as a Passenger

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April 10, 2024 Car Accidents

If you are like most people, you don’t think much about what might happen while riding as a passenger in a car. Yet, the truth is, sitting in someone else’s car puts our safety in the hands of the person behind the wheel and other drivers on the road.

Although most journeys conclude without incident, unfortunate accidents can and do occur. Each year, thousands of passengers sustain injuries (some fatal), as a result of car accident crashes across the United States.

When an accident happens, you need to understand how to file a car accident claim as a passenger and get the compensation necessary to restore you to your pre-accident state.

This will be the subject of our discussion below. However, do not take the information below as legal advice. A car accident lawyer in Longmont should examine every case individually to explore available legal options.

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Can You Recover Compensation as an Injured Passenger?

How to File a Car Accident Claim as a PassengerYes, as a passenger injured in a car accident, you are entitled to compensation by filing an insurance claim or initiating legal action against the liable party(s). However, proper documentation of your injuries is essential to get your compensation.

Unfortunately, similar to drivers, passengers may forgo medical attention after the crash and not realize they suffered an injury until their injuries manifest hours, days, or even weeks later.

Some of the most common types of injuries suffered by passengers in car accidents include:

  • Whiplash
  • Strains and sprains
  • Internal organ damage
  • Facial injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Knee and leg injuries
  • Hand and wrist injuries
  • Back injuries

Additionally, factors such as medical expenses, lost income, and the impact on your overall quality of life play crucial roles in determining the compensation you may deserve.

The extent of property damage, the presence of any pre-existing conditions, and the degree of negligence on the part of the involved parties also contribute to the valuation of your case.

Seeking prompt medical attention, keeping detailed records, and consulting with legal professionals can significantly strengthen your position in pursuing fair and just compensation for the damages incurred during a car accident.

How Does an Injured Passenger File a Claim for Compensation?

If you suffered an injury in an automobile collision as a passenger in one of the vehicles involved, one of your immediate concerns is how you will pay your medical bills and cover any lost income and other losses. Fortunately, you may have options to secure compensation.

Here are a few options you might consider to obtain compensation for your injuries as a passenger:

  • File a claim with the other driver’s insurer. If the other vehicle’s driver (not the one you were seated) was at fault, you can file a third-party claim with their insurance company. This process involves proving the other driver’s liability and documenting your injuries and associated costs. One important consideration is that the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits your compensation. You may need to explore additional options, such as filing a claim with your own insurance, if your damages exceed these limits.
  • File a claim using your driver’s policy. If the car driver has Personal Injury Protection (PIP), usually required in no-fault insurance states, or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage you may file a claim under these coverages, regardless of fault. If the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance or is uninsured, you might file a claim under the UM/UIM portion of your driver’s insurance policy if available. Fact: Statistics show that about 14 percent of all motorists in the United States are uninsured.
  • File a claim through your insurer. You can also file a claim through your insurance policy’s PIP or MedPay coverage. This can provide quick payment of medical bills without establishing who was responsible for the accident. Alternatively, suppose you carry UM/UIM coverage on your auto policy. In that case, you can use this coverage if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your expenses and you have exhausted the other available avenues for compensation. If you have health insurance, you can tap into it to pay for your medical costs .

As you can see, the compensation options that are available to injured passengers depend on:

  • Who was at fault for the crash
  • Whether the passenger lives in a fault or no-fault insurance state
  • The availability of insurance coverage
  • Whether the at-fault driver’s insurance is sufficient to cover the passenger’s expenses and losses
  • Whether the at-fault driver is uninsured

There may not always be a clear source of compensation to pursue if you suffered an injury in a car accident as a passenger, and it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer.

Who Can a Passenger Sue to Get Compensation?

Injured PassengerAs a passenger injured in a car accident, you can initiate legal action against several parties. You need a lawyer who can determine who to sue to get the compensation you need. Below is a list of potentially liable parties in such cases:


The driver of the vehicle you were in or another vehicle involved in the accident is the first party you can sue as an injured passenger. You might also sue a driver in another vehicle if they caused the crash.

Generally, negligence forms the basis for claims against drivers.

Proving the driver’s negligence requires showing that:

  • The driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care;
  • The driver breached that duty by acting or failing to act in a particular way;
  • The breach of duty caused the accident in which you suffered an injury and
  • You, as the passenger, suffered damages due to the accident.

Demonstrating negligence becomes more straightforward if the driver is engaging in reckless behaviors such as speeding or driving distractedly. In such cases, you can hold them, or their insurance company, liable for your injuries and related costs. However, most people don’t know how to prove negligence without the assistance of a car accident lawyer.

Government Entities

In some instances, the fault can lie with the government entity responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining the roadway where the accident occurred. Hazardous conditions like potholes, lack of proper signage, or malfunctioning traffic lights attributable to government negligence may lead to preventable accidents.

However, special rules often apply when pursuing legal action against a government entity, and sovereign immunity laws, limiting when and how government entities can face legal challenges, typically shorten the timeframe for filing a lawsuit.

Before proceeding, consult a car accident attorney who has previously handled claims against the government.

  • Note: In Colorado, for example, individuals who wish to sue a government entity must file written notice within 180 days of the accident date (C.R.S. § 24-10-109).

Car Manufacturers

Injured Passengers in Car AccidentsAnother potential party to a lawsuit can be the car manufacturer or a parts manufacturer if a vehicle defect contributed to the accident or the severity of injuries.

Product liability law may hold the manufacturer responsible for a defectively designed or manufactured car or a manufacturer that failed to provide adequate warnings about the vehicle’s dangers. Examples include faulty brakes, airbags, or tires.

As you can see, pinpointing liability after a car accident in which you were a passenger depends on the specific circumstances of your case. That’s why it’s imperative to consult with a car accident attorney to discuss your case and determine the best course of legal action.

Types of Compensation Available to Injured Passengers in Car Accidents

As a passenger harmed in a motor vehicle accident, you may have the right to seek various types of compensation from multiple sources. The primary goal of obtaining compensation is to make an injured person whole again, getting them back to the physical and financial state they were in prior to the accident.

Typically, the recoverable compensation in injury claims filed by passengers includes the following damages:

  • Past and ongoing medical expenses (Did you go to a hospital or doctor after the accident and incur any medical expenses related to the treatment, prescriptions, diagnostic tests, etc.?)
  • Future medical expenses (Will your injuries necessitate an extended period of treatment or rehabilitation that is likely to persist even after the settlement of your claim?)
  • Loss of income and diminished earning capacity (Has your injury impacted your ability to work and earn a living?)
  • Property damage expenses (Was any of your property, including phone, laptop, and other belongings, damaged or destroyed in the crash?)
  • Pain and suffering (Did your injuries or the memory of the accident result in any degree of physical pain and suffering?)
  • Diminished quality of life or loss of enjoyment of life (Have your injuries damaged your life, making it difficult or impossible to enjoy the activities you enjoyed before the accident?)

These are just some of the most common examples of damages that you may recover through an injured passenger’s claim for compensation. Consider working with a car accident attorney to obtain the full compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Car Accident Claims by Passengers

As a passenger, you never expect to be involved in a car crash. However, accidents can happen when you least expect them. And when they do, you might have many questions but few answers.

These tailored FAQs address the concerns of injured passengers seeking to understand their rights, learn more about obtaining compensation, and emphasize the importance of legal representation.

What happens if you are related to the driver?

Car AccidentIf you suffered an injury in an accident as a passenger and are related to the driver, you may still recover compensation through the driver’s insurance policy. This may depend on whether you are covered as a policyholder or listed as an additional insured. However, many insurance policies exclude blood relatives under uninsured motorist coverage, so you need an experienced lawyer who understands the nuances of various automobile insurance policies.

What happens if the injured passenger is a child?

In the case of a child passenger who suffers an injury in a car accident, a parent or legal guardian will typically handle the claim on the child’s behalf. The compensation recovered will go towards the child’s recovery and any medical expenses incurred. In certain jurisdictions, authorities may place funds awarded to minors in a trust until they reach adulthood.

What if the driver offers to pay your expenses himself?

While it might seem simpler to accept an offer from the driver to pay for your expenses, there can be drawbacks to this approach. The full extent of your injuries and corresponding expenses might not be immediately apparent, so chances are you will not receive full compensation.

Consulting a lawyer to understand your options and your claim’s potential value can guide you on the best action.

What proof does a passenger need to file a car accident claim?

To file a successful injury claim as a passenger, you must gather evidence demonstrating who was at fault for the accident and the extent of your injuries.

This can include police reports, medical records, photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, and traffic surveillance videos. A car accident lawyer can guide you in gathering and preserving evidence from the moment you call a law firm.

How much money can an injured passenger expect after a car accident?

Keith Fuicelli, Denver Car Accident Lawyer

Keith Fuicelli, Car Accident Attorney

The compensation amount depends on various factors, such as the severity of your injuries, the impact of the injuries on your quality of life, and your medical expenses and lost income, among others. Each case is unique, and settlement amounts can vary greatly.

An attorney can evaluate your case and help determine the potential value of your claim, which can often be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or more.

Should a passenger contact a car accident attorney after a car accident?

Yes, it is generally advisable for a passenger to contact a lawyer after a car accident, particularly if they sustain serious injuries or harbor uncertainties about insurance coverage.

A car accident lawyer can provide legal advice, represent your interests in dealing with insurance companies, and advocate for fair compensation.