Here’s what you need to know about passenger injury claims…
Injured passengers can almost never be found negligent in the event of an accident. Because of this, injured passengers have options when seeking reimbursement for medical bills, time away from work, and other damages:
- File a claim against the other driver
- File a claim with your driver’s insurer; or
- File a claim with your insurance provider
Passenger injury claims are just like other accident claims in that you’ll need to prove both liability (someone else caused your injuries) and damages (the extent of harm done).
Depending on the circumstances, there are a few challenges that may arise from claims filed against the other driver. For example, the other driver’s insurance limits may not be enough to cover your expenses. (This is common when an accident results in multiple injured parties and the coverage is divided.)
What’s more, fault (or who’s responsible for the accident) isn’t always easy to determine. Insurance companies love to prolong these investigations hoping to exhaust a claimant’s patience. This process can take months, and if the accident is particularly complex, it’s very likely you’ll need a lawyer.
Injured passengers may feel reluctant to file an injury claim if one of the drivers is a friend or co-worker. As uncomfortable as the circumstance may seem, it’s important to understand that the claim isn’t filed against your friend, it’s filed against your friend’s insurer.
If you’re worried that your friend’s rates will increase as a result of filing the claim, it’s more than likely those rates would increase anyway, especially if your friend is seeking reimbursement for property damage to their vehicle.
Your friend’s Bodily Injury Liability (BI) coverage is a good option, but know that coverage limits vary by state. If the other driver’s limits aren’t enough to cover your damages, or if they’re not at fault, you may need to pursue this option.
If your friend has first-party benefits like Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay), these coverages extend to all passengers and pay out regardless of who is at fault. However, these types of coverage aren’t mandatory in every state.
Click here for a state-by-state list of insurance coverage minimums.
Even though you weren’t driving, it’s possible to file an injury claim with your insurance provider. For example, if you have PIP or MedPay on your policy, these coverages will pay up to their limits.
If your friend or the other driver is uninsured and you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, this can be used in place of Bodily Injury Liability (BI).
All this being said, if you file a claim through your insurer, it’s likely your rates will increase. But in the event that you’ve exhausted all other coverage options, this may be the best way to ensure you’re fairly compensated.