Injury compensation for passengers in car accidents can often amount to substantially more than how much is awarded to drivers. Passengers, who do not have the same split-second to brace themselves before an impact that is often crucial to a driver, can experience worse injuries than the person driving. This is especially true where children and women, who have weaker muscles than adults, are involved.
Passengers in road traffic accidents often find themselves in a stronger legal position too; as an accident is rarely the fault of someone besides a driver. Claims for passengers in collisions are not as straightforward as drivers’ however, due to the incorrect assumption that two parties who sustain the same injury in the same accident should receive the same compensation. Therefore, you should always contact a lawyer in order to find out more about the differences between claiming as a passenger and as a driver.
Passenger Car Accident Injuries
The most common reason that injury compensation for passengers in car accidents is awarded is for injuries sustained in rear-end collisions and accidents caused by another road user. It is however possible for injured passengers to pursue a claim for passenger injury compensation against the driver of the car they were travelling in if that driver was the one responsible for the accident.
While the possibility of pursuing a claim against the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling — which can often be a friend or family member — can understandably be an emotive experience, it is important to remember that you are pursuing a claim for passenger injury compensation against their insurance policy and not against them personally.
Claims for passengers in collisions are also possible when an accident occurs due to a poorly maintained road surface. In this case the claim could be pursued against the council responsible for the upkeep of the road or possibly against a land owner or utility company.
Procedures for Passengers Injured in Car Accidents
It is likely that, if you are currently thinking about a claim for a road traffic accident you will have already completed many of the procedures necessary in order to claim injury compensation for passengers in car accidents, and will have liaised with the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling.
If not, or if you are unsure about which procedures are applicable in your particular situation, you should contact a lawyer. If you have not undertaken any of the procedures below or have not spoken with the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling, you should do so at the first opportunity as claims for passengers in collisions proceed smoother with cooperative contact.
Put Health and Safety First
In the event you are involved in a road traffic accident your first priority should have been to care for your own health — not to consider any claim for passenger injury compensation. If any serious injuries are sustained by you or by anyone in the vehicle in which you were travelling, your first act should be to call an ambulance or make your way to the Accident and Emergency department of the nearest hospital.
As well as an immediate medical examination being of benefit to your health, the success of claims for passengers in collisions can often depend on the availability of medical reports and an official record of your injuries. If you simply received first aid at the scene, and did not visit the hospital or call an ambulance directly after an accident, you should make an appointment to see your GP immediately.
In order to pursue a claim against the driver at fault for the accident you will need their insurance details. If you were unable to collect them at the time of your accident, possibly the driver of the vehicle in which you were injured exchanged details with the negligent party or the police – if they attended the scene – included them in their report.
Complete Crash Formalities When Safe
If you have not completed the post-accident formalities a driver or another passenger may have — if not, it is not too late to notify the police, who will record the collision in their “Accident Report Book”. The police may also be able to help if the driver of the other vehicle deliberately left the scene of the road traffic accident without providing you with his or her insurance information. The police have the means to trace the driver using the vehicle´s registration number and, given that the driver fled the scene without exchanging information, they may wish to pursue criminal charges against him or her.
If it turns out that the driver responsible for the collision was uninsured, you will still be able to claim for passenger injury compensation. In the event that there is no insurance policy against which to claim, claims for passengers in collisions can be pursued through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB); an organisation set up by insurance companies to fund the claims of accident victims injured by uninsured drivers. In order to find out more about the MIB and your claim for passenger injury compensation, contact a lawyer at the first available opportunity.
How to Claim for Passenger Injury Compensation
In order to claim for passenger injury compensation, your lawyer will send a “Letter of Claim” to the insurers of the party which caused your injuries: the negligent driver, the local council, utility company or private landowner — or, in the case where the driver cannot be found the MIB.
Once the letter is received, the negligent party´s insurance company has 21 days in which to acknowledge receipt of the letter and a further 90 days in which to admit their client´s negligence or contest your claim. If the negligent party admits liability, your lawyer will enter into negotiations — provided the full extent and consequences of your injuries is known.
If the negligent party does not admit liability, and the claim is disputed, you will have to decide with your lawyer´s advice whether the case is worth pursuing in court. If you decide that it is, your lawyer will initiate court proceedings. The possibility also exists that the negligent party’s insurance company may intervene and offer a settlement. If this happens, you should inform your lawyer immediately.
How Much Injury Compensation for Passengers in Car Accidents?
The amount of injury compensation for passengers in car accidents you are entitled to depends on a number of factors — most notably the nature and extent of your injuries and their impact on your quality of life. Each claim is judged on its own individual merits and as mentioned above, passengers injured in road traffic accidents can receive significantly more than drivers.
Compensation settlements of claims for passengers in collisions will take into account the extent of the physical injuries which you sustained. This part of the award is known as general damages and is calculated by using the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages with reference to individual details such as your age, gender and state of health before the accident. Any sign of “Loss of Amenity” — whether your normal day-to-day lifestyle has deteriorated because of the accident — will also be taken into account.
Compensation claims for passengers in collisions can also be awarded for any quantifiable emotional damage that has been suffered due the accident — either by the nature of the accident itself or during the recovery process — and it is advised that you keep of diary of your recovery, detailing the times when your injury prevented you from participating in activities in which you would normally take part. You can also recover compensation for any loss of income you might have suffered during the time after their injury or any other justifiable expenses.
Please note: If you were injured in a road traffic accident in which you got into a vehicle with a drunk or uninsured driver, knowing that were legally unable to drive, you may still be entitled to pursue a claim for passenger injury compensation. The amount you could receive would be lower than normal however, to take into account the risk you knowingly took.
Passengers in Road Traffic Accidents and Insurance Companies
When pursuing injury compensation for passengers in car accidents, it is possible that you could be approached with an unsolicited offer of compensation by the negligent party’s insurance company a short time after the accident. This can happen after submitting a “Letter of Claim” or before, should the company have been made aware of the accident by their policyholder. In the event you have been approached with an unsolicited offer you should contact a lawyer immediately.
One of the reasons it is imperative that you get in touch with a lawyer is because insurance companies rarely take into account the full extent of a claimant’s injuries — if they are even known — and their offers reflect this. Insurance companies’ offers of injury compensation for passengers in car accidents are aimed at limiting the time and expense the company has to spend on the case and are often much lower than would be achievable by negotiation or in court.
It is important to note that, if you accept an unsolicited offer there is no possibility of pursuing another claim for passenger injury compensation against the driver of the vehicle which caused your injuries if it turns out that you need more compensation — once you accept an offer, the settlement is final.
Should short-term finances be an issue, it may be possible for your lawyer to arrange interim payments of compensation once the negligent party’s insurance company has accepted that their policyholder was at fault for the accident. These payments can allow a claimant to manage their expenses until a final settlement has been agreed.
Further Information about Injury Compensation for Passengers in Car Accidents
If you, your partner or a child was injured in a road traffic accident in which a negligent third party is to blame, it is highly recommended that you contact a lawyer immediately as you could be entitled to injury compensation for passengers in car accidents. The lawyer — who will evaluate your case on its own individual merits — may, if they feel it is strong enough, offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis – meaning that you will not be charged for their legal fees if your claim for passenger injury compensation is unsuccessful.
Summary – Claims for Passenger Injury Compensation
- It is possible to pursue injury compensation for passengers in car accidents even when the you were travelling in the same car as the driver responsible for the accident
- Claims for passengers in collisions are made through the liable party’s insurance policy or from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau when the driver is uninsured
- Passengers who knowingly travel with a drunk or uninsured driver can still claim for passenger injury compensation — although their awards will be smaller to take into account their knowledge of the circumstances into which they were entering
- Claimants who receive an unsolicited offer of compensation should contact a lawyer immediately
It is important to note that each claim for passenger injury compensation is different. If you have recently been injured in a car accident and feel that you might be entitled to compensation you should contact a lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity.