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Can You File a Car Accident Claim If You Were a Passenger?

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury |

Accident lawyers in Texas are often asked what happens when a passenger is injured in a car accident. Which driver should be responsible? Can the passenger file a claim against his or her own insurance despite the fact that his or her car was not involved? If you have been injured as a passenger, a lawyer in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, or Austin can help you sort out the liability issues.

Can You File a Car Accident Claim If You Were a Passenger?

Yes! If you were hurt in an accident that you played no role in causing, you are entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver. In Texas, a person who causes an accident must pay for the damages associated with all of the injuries, including those sustained by the passengers. Even if you were in the same car as the at-fault driver, you can still file a claim against his or her insurance.

What Kinds of Compensation Can You Collect?

Personal Injury Damages

Personal injury law is written with the intent to cover all of the injured party’s financial damages and to provide monetary compensation for any non-monetary losses he or she suffered. Your expenses will probably include your trip to the ER, medical bills, and follow-up care. If you missed work, you should receive an amount of compensation that also reflects your lost wages. Non-monetary losses, which are known as noneconomic damages, can include physical pain and emotional distress.

Property Damage

While the majority of the property damage in a car accident is sustained by the owners of the vehicles, a passenger could lose valuables. For example, you may have lost a computer or a smartphone in an accident. If you had to evacuate the car quickly, you may have even left behind a wallet or a purse.

Property damage and personal injuries are not included in the same claim. However, if you lost any valuables, your lawyer can help you file a separate claim to receive compensation for your property.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Passenger Injury Claims

Can a Passenger Share Responsibility in the Accident?

There are some cases where comparative fault laws could apply to a passenger. “Comparative fault” is a term that is used when multiple parties are found responsible for an accident. Usually, the at-fault parties are the drivers of the vehicles. A passenger can be held partially accountable if:

  • He or she did not object to a driver who was speeding
  • He or she knowingly got into a car with an intoxicated driver
  • He or she chose not to take reasonable measures to prevent the accident

If the court finds that you contributed to the accident, it may be harder for you to collect compensation. A skilled lawyer can help you anticipate counter-arguments from the defense so that you can gather ample evidence in your favor.

Can an Injured Passenger File Claims Against Multiple Drivers?

If the accident was caused by both the driver of the vehicle you were in and the other driver, you may be able to file two claims according to the comparative fault laws. If the cost of treating your injuries exceeds the limits of both of the drivers’ individual policies, you may be able to get the total amount of compensation you need by tapping into both.

What If the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

While driving without insurance is illegal in Texas, there are still plenty of uninsured drivers on the road. If you need to pursue compensation after an accident that was caused by one of them, you could either bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver directly or turn to other insurance policies.

If the driver of the vehicle you were in has uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, their policy might cover injuries sustained by their passengers. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a similar type of coverage that often applies to passengers as well as drivers. If the driver of the vehicle you were in does not carry an insurance policy that could be used for your injuries, you may be able to file a claim with your own PIP.

What If There Were Multiple Injured Passengers?

Some of the most tragic accidents involve families traveling together and other groups of people sharing one car. If you were not the only passenger at the time of the accident, the cost of the other passengers’ damages could have an impact on your own payout.

In Texas, auto policies usually have limits on the total amount of money they will provide per accident. Therefore, if the at-fault driver only carried $60,000 in coverage per accident and the combined costs of everyone’s medical care exceeded that figure, you may need to look into other sources of compensation. Your lawyer would likely suggest the same tactics you would use if the at-fault driver had no insurance.

How Much Money Can an Injured Passenger Collect?

In Texas, there is no legal limit on the amount of money a person can claim in a personal injury case. The size of the payout an injured passenger can receive in a settlement or a court-ordered payout is determined by:

  • The severity of the injuries
  • How much income was missed while recovering
  • The degree to which quality of life was reduced
  • Whether or not he or she played a role in causing the accident
  • The number of liable parties and claims filed
  • Whether or not he or she works with an attorney
  • The size of the body of evidence in favor of the claim(s)
  • The limits on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy
  • The ability of the at-fault driver to provide additional compensation

In Texas, the average payout for a personal injury claim is around $15,000. However, there is no “typical” claim, and your payout could be much lower or much higher depending on the factors listed above. If you have been left with a permanent disability, your claim could be worth millions of dollars.

What Evidence Can Support the Case?

Car accidents are messy events that usually generate enough evidence to determine who was at fault and how much the damage cost. Injured passengers should take their own photos and videos of the wreck rather than relying on the drivers to do the documentation. If there were witnesses, it is important to get their contact information. One of the most important ways to generate evidence is by going to the hospital where your injuries will be noted in your medical records.

Your lawyer may subpoena other evidence as needed. For example, if the case involves texting while driving, he or she may need to obtain records from the at-fault driver’s cellular service provider. If proving your lost wages requires the input of an expert witness such as an economist or an accountant, your lawyer may be able to suggest valuable contacts from his or her firm’s network.

How Can I Get in Touch With Accident Lawyers in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, or Austin?

While many accident lawyers in Texas promise to maximize your compensation, their experience level matters. We have won many multi-million dollar lawsuits in over 40 years of serving injured parties in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. To learn more about your rights as an injured passenger, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.