Many of us drive or ride in a car every single day, usually without much thought about the dangers. Yet the statistics show that the likelihood of being in a car accident is much higher than being in a plane crash. This is true whether you are a driver or a passenger in a vehicle.
As a passenger, you have a right to pursue financial compensation for your injuries in a car accident. You could file a claim against the insurance policy of the driver of the vehicle you were in, another driver, or even your own insurance company. An experienced New York personal injury lawyer can help you determine the best course of action to ensure that you get the money that you deserve.
Based in White Plains, the car wreck attorneys of the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan represent injury victims throughout New York. We offer free initial consultations and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a member of our legal team, reach out to our law firm today.
Seeking Compensation for a New York Auto Accident
In New York, all drivers are required to carry car insurance. At a minimum, this insurance coverage must include $10,000 for property damage for a single accident, $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person injured in an accident, and $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for 2 or more people involved in an accident.
In addition to this liability coverage, each auto insurance policy must also include no-fault coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. No-fault – or personal injury protection – pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. Uninsured motorist coverage pays for losses caused by a driver who does not have car insurance.
Car insurance will generally pay for the injuries that a person suffers in a motor vehicle accident – whether they are a driver, passenger, or even a pedestrian. Generally, you will have to prove that the at-fault driver was negligent in some way. Negligence is a legal term that means that a person failed to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. Another way to look at it is that it is a type of carelessness.
In some cases, the at-fault driver may have acted intentionally or recklessly. A good example of this type of personal injury claim is a drunk driving accident. If you are hurt in a car crash that was the result of intentional or reckless behavior, you can still pursue financial compensation for your injuries.
As a passenger, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, the question of which person is responsible for the collision will determine which insurance claim will be filed. An experienced White Plains personal injury attorney can help you determine how you can get maximum compensation for your injuries.
What Are My Options as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
If you are a passenger in a car accident, then you have the right to file a compensation claim – just as you would if you were the driver. Depending on who was at fault for the crash, you may file a claim against the person who was driving the vehicle you were in, a different driver, or even your own insurance company.
The first step in the process is determining fault. As noted above, New York car accident claims are usually based on negligence. Your car accident lawyer will review police reports, photos and videos of the scene, and witness statements to get a better idea of who was at fault for the crash. You will then be able to file a claim against that party’s insurance company.
Because New York is a no-fault state, your first step will be seeking coverage for your direct financial losses from the driver of the car you were in through their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP plans are usually limited but will provide financial compensation for things like medical care and lost wages in the immediate aftermath of an accident.
If PIP coverage isn’t enough to cover all of your losses as an injured passenger, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. This could be a claim against the driver of the car that you were a passenger in or the other driver involved in a crash. It could also be a third party, such as a government agency responsible for maintaining the road, the employer of the responsible driver, a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft, or even the manufacturer of a dangerous or defective part.
In some cases, you may even be able to seek coverage from your own insurance company. This is typically done as a last resort, in situations where the at-fault party’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your medical costs and other losses. In this situation, a White Plains car accident lawyer can help you understand your options for seeking financial compensation from your own or another person’s insurer.
Compensation for Passengers in Car Accident Cases
In a personal injury claim, a passenger can seek financial compensation – known as damages – for all of their injuries. As discussed above, this may include money for medical expenses and lost wages through PIP coverage. However, if your direct losses exceed the driver’s PIP policy, then you may be able to file a lawsuit to seek additional compensation.
This may include compensatory damages, which are further broken down into economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages pay for direct financial losses, such as property damage, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, medical expenses, and future medical treatment. Noneconomic damages pay for intangible losses like emotional distress, scarring, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded. These damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer, so they are only available in cases where a person acted intentionally or recklessly. New York does not have a cap or limit on punitive damages.
Most personal injury cases are resolved outside of court, typically through a settlement. Your White Plains personal injury lawyer may need to file a lawsuit in order to preserve your rights. This does not mean that your case will go to trial; instead, it is an opportunity to continue negotiations right up until the eve of trial.
Insurance companies rarely offer a fair settlement to injury victims who don’t have legal representation. Their goal is to resolve personal injury claims for as little money as possible. If you want to get top dollar for your insurance claim, a skilled personal injury attorney will fight for your right to full compensation.
Hurt in a Car Accident? We Can Help.
Being in a car accident can be scary, whether you were the driver or a passenger. Afterward, you may be confused about your rights and unsure of whether you can even get money for your losses. Our law firm is here for you.
The Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan is dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims throughout New York. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that we never charge a fee unless we get money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a White Plains personal injury lawyer, give us a call at 914-220-1086 or fill out our online contact form.
If the At-Fault Driver Was My Spouse Can I File a Claim for Compensation as a Passenger?
As long as you have Supplemental Spousal Liability protection on your insurance coverage, then you can file a claim against your own car insurance policy if you were hurt in an accident caused by your spouse. This type of coverage is now required to be provided to New York auto insurance policies unless an insured specifically refuses it. With this coverage, you can get compensation for your injuries if your spouse was the at-fault driver in a car accident.
This is important because people are often passengers in a vehicle driven by their spouse. If their husband or wife caused the accident, then they may not have been able to pursue a claim. An experienced White Plains personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you can file this type of claim against your own car insurance policy.
Can a Passenger Ever Be Responsible for a Car Accident?
Although it is unusual, it is possible for a passenger to be found liable for a car crash. For example, if a passenger distracted the driver in some way or grabbed the wheel, then any accident that resulted might be their fault. In this rare situation, the passenger would probably not be able to recover financial compensation for their injuries.
The more common scenario occurs when a driver makes an error that leads to a crash. If you have been hurt in a car accident as a passenger, we can help. Call the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.