Complex Issues for Car Accidents that Cause Injuries to Passengers

A serious car accident can be a very traumatic event. It can be stressful for everyone involved, but sometimes it can be even more terrifying for a passenger. As a passenger, you have no control of what is happening. That lack of control together with the tense and stressful moments just before a crash can be extremely frightening.

Things only get worse when a passenger sufferes severe injuries. As a passenger injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. But, some circumstances create complex legal issues. That is why if you were a passenger injured in a car crash in Massachusetts you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney.

Personal Injury Claim for a Passenger Hurt in a Crash

As with standard injury claims that arise from a car crash in Massachusetts, the injured party must prove that someone else was negligent and caused the accident and resulting injuries. This issue of liability is generally easier for a passenger injured in an accident. This is because the passenger usually has done nothing wrong to cause or contribute to the crash. Whereas a driver can sometimes be found responsible, wholly or in part, for the crash. Therefore, an auto insurance company cannot use one of their favorite insurance tactics and place blame on the passenger in hopes of denying a claim or reducing the amount of any compensation paid to injured person.

Injury Claims by Passengers Can Create Complicated Insurance Issues

In Massachusetts all motor vehicles must be insured. There are parts of an auto insurance policy that are mandatory and parts that are optional. One compulsory or required part of auto insurance is coverage for bodily injury to others. An example of an optional part of auto insurance is underinsured coverage. I’ll get into these in a bit.

Which insurance company an injured passenger should seek compensation from depends on how the accident happened and how much coverage there is. Generally, an injured passenger will seek damages from the insurance company that insured the vehicle the negligent driver operated. Sometimes it may be the insurance company for the car the passenger was in and other times it may be the insurance company for the car that struck the car the passenger occupied.

Example 1: A client of ours was seriously injured in a car accident while she was a passenger. The accident happened in Framingham, Massachusetts when another vehicle rear-ended the car our client was sitting in as a passenger. In that case, we recovered financial compensation for our client from the insurance company that insured the other vehicle.

Example 2: We represented a young man who was a passenger and injured in a car accident. In this case, the car that our client occupied as a passenger rear-ended another car on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton, MA. It was determined that the driver of the car our client occupied was negligent. Therefore, we recovered compensation from the insurance company that insured the vehicle our client was in.

As you can see from the above examples, when a passenger is injured in a crash, it depends on how the accident happened in order to determine which insurance company the claim will be filed with.

The Amount of Insurance Coverage is Also Important

Once it is determined which insurance company should provide coverage for the injuries and damages to a passenger, the next question is how much insurance coverage is there. Auto insurance coverage is important because an insurance company is only responsible for any damages or losses their insured caused up to the limits of the insurance policy. If the coverage for bodily injury to others is the minimum, which in Massachusetts is currently $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident, there may not be enough insurance coverage to compensate an injured passenger for their injuries and damages.

If the injured passenger has his or her own car and auto insurance with optional coverage for an underinsured motorist, he or she may seek additional compensation from their own insurance company.  Underinsured motorist coverage is available if the negligent party doesn’t have enough insurance coverage. So, using the facts from Example 2 above, if the passenger is injured in that crash and the insurance for the car he was in wasn’t enough to compensate him for his damages, if he had his own auto insurance policy with underinsured motorist coverage, he can seek additional compensation from his own insurance company.

Injured as a Passenger? Consult an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer

As you can see, personal injury claims from car accidents often present complex insurance issues. Sometimes these issues can be even more complicated for an injured passenger. This is why if you have been injured in a car accident while a passenger in a car, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts.

If you have questions about an accident case, feel free to contact us online or call us at (508) 879-3500. We are happy to discuss these matters with you, answer your questions and help secure the financial compensation you deserve. 

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