Passengers involved in a car accident who are injured usually have an easier case than a driver. A passenger does not have to prove liability; one of the drivers is going to be liable, and the passengers typically have no-fault in the accident, regardless of which car they were in.
As with all personal injury claims, in a car accident case the plaintiff must be able to prove two things: liability and damages. Damages are typically related to the extent of injuries.
A passenger injury claim moves forward just like any other type of car accident claim, except that the passenger can make the claim against any of the drivers involved. At that point, it is up to the insurance company to investigate liability.
In most cases, the injured passenger would want to get the insurance information for each driver involved, and file claims with each driver's insurance company. If one driver was clearly at-fault, for example, in a rear-end collision, it usually is not necessary to file a claim with both insurance companies. Nevertheless, if liability is going to be disputed, it is safe to open a claim with all parties.
At that point, the case proceeds forward in the exact same manner as any other personal injury claim. The passenger will need to complete the necessary course of medical treatment, and when the treatment is complete, the case is ready to be negotiated and settled, or litigated. If both drivers are deemed at fault, then the liability is divided proportionally amongst both insurance companies based on a percentage calculation of liability. (Example: if upon investigation, one driver is found 70% liable, and another driver is found 30% liable; then the insurance company would pay 70% of the settlement amount, while the other insurance company would pay the remaining 30%).
One thing to be aware of are policy limits. This can be especially problematic when multiple passengers are involved in an accident. For example, if four passengers are severely injured in a rear-end collision, the driver that caused the accident will typically be 100% liable. If the at-fault driver carries the Nevada state minimum insurance policy of $15,000/$30,000, this means that the injured parties are typically limited in their recovery from the insurance company, which will only cover damages up to the $30,000 policy amount. This means that each injured person will have to settle with the at-fault driver for less than what his or her case is worth because the recovery is capped at $30,000.
There are other possibilities for recovery, typically through an individual's own underinsured motorist coverage which have addressed in previous articles on our website.
If you or a loved one was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident and has sustained injury, do not hesitate tocontact the experienced attorneys at Ace Law Group for a free consultation.