Car accidents can occur at any time, affecting passengers as they rely on the driver’s skills and adherence to road safety regulations. In such instances, passengers may be more susceptible to injuries compared to drivers. If you find yourself injured as a passenger in a car crash, you may be unsure about the appropriate course of action to take.

Statistics indicate the frequent occurrence of passenger accidents. The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that passenger injuries are involved in 22% of car accidents. In Michigan, the Blues state that passengers account for 12.3% of road fatalities. Regardless of the accident’s severity, passengers can sustain lasting injuries.


Know the Laws in Your State


Several insurance options are available to ensure appropriate compensation in case the recovery possibilities under the drivers’ policies are too low. One such option is Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, which protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who does not carry liability insurance. Typically, you obtain it under your own auto insurance. As you work with an adjuster from your carrier, they will expect you to sign information releases from your medical providers and employer. Additionally, they may require you to undergo an independent medical exam by a doctor you are unfamiliar with.


Underinsured Motorist Coverage


Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) comes into play when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses. In this case, the at-fault driver’s insurance will typically cover damages up to the policy limits, and your UIM coverage will take care of the excess amount up to the limits you selected when purchasing your coverage.


Passenger Insurance Claims


As a passenger involved in a car accident, your personal insurance typically remains uninvolved. Instead, you will be required to file a claim with the insurance policy of one of the drivers. In “at fault” states such as Ohio, the insurance carriers of each driver will negotiate the percentage of fault covered, and the process will involve the payment of damages for injuries to the claimant. In “no-fault” states like Michigan, the injured party will file the claim under the driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage.


Passenger Compensation by State


In Ohio, passengers can claim compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. However, they must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident. In Michigan, passengers can obtain compensation through personal injury protection that covers medical expenses up to a certain limit. Alternatively, they may file a suit using tort law.


Related Party Limitations


Please note that if you sustained injuries while riding in the family car and you have a close relation to the driver or a member of their household, it would not be possible for you to file a claim for further damages exceeding the regular limits of the policy. Nevertheless, if you are a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone unrelated or in a commercial vehicle, you may have the right to claim additional damages beyond the limits of the insurance policy.


Document Everything as a Passenger in a Car Accident


You can claim amounts up to and including stated policy limits if those are sufficient to cover your actual losses. Policy limits usually include medical expenses, but you may also include things like lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. However, you must be prepared to document anything you claim.

Before filing a claim or accepting any settlement, it is essential to document everything that happened. Information such as the names of everyone involved, the location of the accident, and the events leading up to it will be required when filing insurance claims.


Seek Immediate Medical Attention


As a passenger injured in a car accident, the first step is to seek medical attention promptly. Even if you don’t experience immediate pain, it’s important to consult a doctor, as some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away but can cause significant discomfort in the future. Seeking medical attention will also provide vital proof of your injuries, which is essential for filing an insurance claim.


Document the Accident


After seeing a doctor and receiving medical attention, it becomes crucial to document all aspects of the accident. This involves capturing photographs of the accident site, jotting down accident details, and gathering witness contact information. Documentation serves as vital evidence when filing a claim, and also helps in resolving any disputes with insurance companies regarding fault.


Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney


Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial for defending your rights as a passenger injured in a car accident. A personal injury attorney can assist with navigating the legal system, handling insurance claims, and ensuring you receive proper compensation for your injuries. Additionally, an attorney can offer guidance on seeking medical treatment and provide a legal assessment of available options.


Get Help from a Professional


Experiencing a car accident can cause trauma and uncertainty about the next steps. As a passenger, you possess legal rights and options. An experienced car accident lawyer can support you throughout the entire process and advocate for the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain, and suffering. Do not hesitate to reach out to one of our skilled personal injury attorneys promptly. They will protect and assist you throughout the legal proceedings. Our firm provides compassionate, personalized, and professional legal advice while you focus on your recovery. Contact us today at 419-843-6663 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to explore your legal options.