When an auto accident injury lawyer files a claim, it usually involves seeking compensation from one driver on behalf of another. Passengers, however, may be hurt in car accidents, too. They do have the right to pursue claims, but there are some things you might want to keep in mind if you were a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident.
The Role of No-Fault Insurance
Many states employ no-fault insurance systems. These are designed to minimize the amount of litigation coming from car accidents. Parties are forced to pursue claims through each driver's insurance. If Driver A had an accident involving Driver B, Driver A would settle their claim through their own company rather than Driver B's insurance provider.
Notably, no-fault systems generally require coverage for passengers who are hurt, too. That's not a bad deal in most cases because it expedites the process of getting compensation for your injuries. There is a "but," though.
One way a passenger might bypass the no-fault system is if they have catastrophic injuries that exceed the value of the driver's policy. An auto accident injury lawyer will have to demonstrate that the client's injuries rise above a certain threshold for causing life-changing harm. This is usually assessed in terms of injuries that impair mental and motor function, lead to permanent pain, or cause disfigurement.
If injuries have been shown to be catastrophic, the client will then have a chance to seek compensation that exceeds the limits in the driver's policy and those imposed by state law. Bear in mind, the cash value of your case will still have to outstrip what the policy covers. Otherwise, it will just be simpler to take the settlement through the no-fault system, anyhow.
Suing Both Drivers
A passenger involved in a two-car accident may have the standing to sue both drivers. This is only the case if they've proven their injuries are catastrophic.
It might sound quirky that this is possible, especially if you're familiar with how injury claims are usually limited in terms of seeking compensation from just one party. The quirk appears, however, because both drivers may be partially responsible for what happens to a passenger. Barring some genuinely outrageous behavior that affected the driver they were with, a passenger is never going to be a liable party.
In most cases, this will lead to negotiating claims with both insurance companies. Should either insurance carrier not settle, the defendant would be sued separately, potentially leading to two distinct cases.Share