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What Are Your Rights as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Car Accidents |

When someone takes you as a passenger in their car, they become responsible for your safety. If they then drive carelessly and cause you to suffer an injury, you have a right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against them. If the driver of another car caused an accident, you would pursue compensation from them. To best understand your legal options, speak to a local San Antonio car accident attorney or truck accident attorney right away.


What Are Your Rights as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

As a passenger in a car accident, you have the same legal rights to pursue financial compensation from the responsible party as an injured driver. Establishing liability is the important initial step in an insurance claim or lawsuit. Your attorney can investigate the accident, read the police report, analyze eyewitness statements and any other photographic or video evidence, and help you determine which party is liable for your losses. This may have been your driver or another driver.


Sometimes both drivers share a degree of liability. Shared liability is an added layer of complexity that usually takes a skillful lawyer to unravel. An example of shared liability is if the driver of your vehicle was driving dangerously close to the truck ahead when the truck driver suddenly slowed to turn without indicating, causing a rear-end collision. Here, you might seek a portion of your total compensation from the insurance companies of both drivers.


Examples of Negligent Driving

Negligence on the roads is the operating of any vehicle without reasonable care for the safety of passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Driving erratically, speeding, texting while driving, changing lanes without indicating, and failing to yield to the right of way are all examples of negligent driving.


As an injured passenger seeking compensation, your lawyer would need to prove that the at-fault driver acted with negligence. Most car accident cases where a driver acted negligently are settled out of court. But in about 5% of such cases, the injured driver or passenger will file a lawsuit and escalate the case to court to be decided by a jury. This usually happens because the insurer won’t agree to a fair settlement figure.


Examples of Reckless Driving

If one or more of the at-fault drivers was acting recklessly, it’s worse than negligence. Recklessness is driving with wanton disregard for the safety of others, and it’s considered a serious criminal offense.


Drunk driving, excessive speeding, unlawfully passing other vehicles, and racing on public roads are all considered reckless driving. These more extreme cases are more likely to end up in court. When recklessness was demonstrated, in addition to compensatory damages, you may also be to sue for punitive damages, which are usually only awarded in court.


Types of Losses You May Have Suffered

As an injured passenger, any losses you’ve suffered as a result of your accident may be included in your damages. There are three broad categories of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.


Economic Damages

These are damages with a clear and objective monetary value. Medical bills are the most common economic damages. Any costs related to medical treatment and recovery from your injuries should be included in your medical damages. In the case of severe, long-lasting injuries, this might include enough money to cover ongoing medical expenses in the future.


Lost wages are also a common form of economic damages. Any income you’ve lost because of your injury may be recovered from the at-fault party. This also includes future lost income if you’ve lost some or all capacity to earn a living. Personal property damage may also be included in economic damages, such as a phone, laptop, jewelry, or clothing that was damaged in the crash.


Non-Economic Damages

If you’ve been seriously injured, you may have also experienced a great deal of physical pain and emotional suffering. These are non-economic damages, which may also include scarring or disfigurement, impairment or disability, loss of enjoyment of hobbies and other daily activities, and loss of important relationships.


These non-economic damages are relatively subjective in nature, but they’re still potentially significant losses in your life. And as such, you have a right to pursue monetary compensation for them.


Punitive Damages

Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory damages: they’re meant to make you whole for your losses. Punitive damages are additional damages designed to punish a defendant who has acted with recklessness or intentional malice. If punitive damages are applicable in your case, your lawyer may recommend that you take the case to court to recover them.


How To Proceed After Your Accident

Whether you were the driver or a passenger, it’s important to think clearly and act promptly following any car accident. If your injuries were not incapacitating, ensure that the police are called, take photos and videos of the accident scene, and collect eyewitness details, at a bare minimum. And as soon as you can, get a copy of the police report and make sure that the report’s depiction of events is accurate.


Also, seek medical attention immediately, even if you think you’re uninjured; adrenaline can sometimes mask the pain of a hidden injury until later on. After seeing your doctor, follow their instructions to the letter, keeping them informed of any pain or psychological problems you’re experiencing. Also, keep copies of all medical bills and records. All of this will help your attorney to build a strong case when you file your claim.


How a San Antonio Car Accident Attorney Can Help You

Car accident victims who hire an attorney win three and a half times more money on average in their final settlement than accident victims who fail to get legal representation, according to the Insurance Research Council. An experienced local car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and damages, investigate your accident, gather evidence, file your claim for you, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court before a judge and jury.


If you’ve been injured or suffered any kind of loss as a passenger in a car accident, it’s almost always a good decision to speak to a lawyer without delay. This is especially the case if your injury is severe, multiple vehicles were involved, commercial vehicles are involved, or there’s any dispute regarding the at-fault driver’s liability or the value of your damages. Your attorney can fight your corner and do their best to win the compensation you deserve.


When To Hire a Truck Accident Attorney

Accidents involving trucks tend to differ from car accidents in a few key ways. For one, truck accidents are more likely to be serious accidents involving multiple vehicles, which adds to the complexity and timeframe of any personal injury case.


Also, when the defendant is a commercial trucking company, you’re often facing a more aggressive insurance company and a well-funded legal team who will fight tooth and nail to keep from paying out compensation. For these reasons, it’s wise to hire an attorney with plenty of specialist experience handling truck accidents in San Antonio just like yours.


If you’ve been injured as a passenger in a road accident, contact Gamez Law Firm today at 210-951-2024 for a free consultation. With over $100,000,000 in clients’ settlements already won, our experienced car accident attorneys and truck accident attorneys have been helping injury victims win full and fair compensation for their losses since 1973.