If you are involved in a car accident when riding in a car with friends or relatives not living in your household, you can sue to recover damages for the injuries you sustained.
Don’t put off pursuing the damages you deserve if the driver is a friend or family member. They will not personally pay for your damages. Instead, their insurance company will handle the claim.
As with all personal accident injury claims, the overall value of a settlement for injuries sustained as a passenger will largely hinge on the extent of those injuries.
Common Injuries Reported by Car Passengers
Passengers can be seriously injured in car accidents. Some of the most commonly experienced injuries are as follows:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord and back injuries
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Traumatic brain injuries
A TBI (traumatic brain injury) is a term used for all injuries to the brain triggered by an object hitting or penetrating the head. TBIs are commonplace in car accidents due to the head and body being thrown around during a car collision.
Beyond this, passengers often strike their heads against the interior of the vehicle, with the windows, or the windshield.
Head injuries can also occur even without direct impact if enough force is created by the collision to move the brain inside the skull.
A traumatic brain injury can gravely impact your quality of life. TBIs often require intensive medical treatment. Additionally, traumatic brain injuries can bring about lifelong impairments, both physical and cognitive. As crowning insult, the cost of treating brain injuries is liable to seriously strain your finances.
Spinal cord and back injuries
Spinal cord injuries also commonly occur in auto accidents due to the force experienced by the body during the moment of impact.
A spinal cord injury encompasses all bone and nerve damage in the spinal structure.
This type of injury can range from mild pain that dissipates untreated to permanent, life-changing paralysis.
Serious spinal cord injuries can drastically affect your quality of life, especially in the case of complete or partial paralysis.
The most common forms of internal injuries experienced by passengers in car accidents are internal bleeding and damage to internal organs stemming from trauma.
Blunt force trauma can also cause internal injuries. This type of injury occurs when part of the body collides with another object.
Soft tissue injuries
Soft tissue injuries include:
- Pulled muscles
- Torn ligaments
All soft tissue injuries can trigger chronic pain, even when properly treated. You may require injections, medications, and physical therapy. All these can be time-consuming and costly.
Does Insurance Cover Passengers’ Injuries?
If you are a passenger in a vehicle that caused an auto accident, your attorney will contact the insurance company of that motorist to make a claim. Even if the driver is a friend or family member, you can still sue their insurer.
For auto accidents where another driver caused the accident, your attorney will contact the insurer of that motorist to initiate a claim.
In the event of car passenger injuries where multiple drivers were at fault, you can file claims with the insurers of all drivers at fault.
Passengers in car accidents are entitled to recover the same damages as drivers injured in car accidents.
Compensation for Passengers’ Injuries
Injured passengers can seek compensation for damages incurred by a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. The passenger is never at fault for an accident.
Some of the most common forms of car accident damages for passengers are:
- Special Damages
- General Damages
- Punitive Damages
- Wrongful Death Damages
Special damages are also known as economic damages. These involve expenses that a passenger injured in a car wreck must pay out of pocket, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future physical therapy expenses
- Past and future cognitive therapy expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Repair or replacement of property
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
General damages are also known as non-economic damages. This type of damages does not have a dollar value. General damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of use or function of body part
Courts typically order general damages and special damages to make good losses.
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the grossly negligent or intentionally reckless behavior of certain defendants, if this behavior causes injuries to others. Examples include driving under the influence and excessive speeding.
Wrongful Death Damages
If a loved one is killed in an auto accident caused by the negligence of another party, you might be able to recover compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death damages are determined according to bills left behind, suffering when the deceased was alive, and suffering experienced by surviving family members.
The most common damages for wrong death claims include:
- Funeral costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages (yours and theirs)
- Loss of consortium (legal term for the loss of your spouse)
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering (yours and theirs)
The amount you can recover in compensation if you are a passenger injured in a car accident will depend on your circumstances and the following variables:
- Scope and severity of your injuries
- Cost of treatment
- Lasting effects of injuries
- Fatal injuries
The most effective and efficient method of pursuing a personal accident injury claim is to retain an experienced attorney. They will guide you through filing a claim and getting the compensation you deserve.