Car accidents frequently happen because of another motor vehicle operator’s negligence. At other times, motor vehicle accidents involve just one vehicle, such as when a vehicle collides with a stationary object, like a tree or concrete median. Just like motor vehicle operators, motor vehicle passengers can suffer serious injuries in car accidents of any kind. Passengers who sustain injuries in motor vehicle accidents may be eligible to pursue a variety of monetary damages, depending upon the extent of the injuries and the circumstances surrounding their accident.
If you or a person you love suffered an injury as a passenger in a car accident, you should keep in mind that the insurance company with whom you are dealing is never on your side. The company’s primary goal is to save itself as much money as possible by limiting the value of your claim. Consequently, if you are interested in pursuing a personal injury claim against the driver operating the vehicle you were in or another motor vehicle driver, hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you throughout your case.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will investigate how your car accident occurred, including obtaining a copy of the police report and other documentation. A Duluth, Georgia car accident attorney can also directly negotiate with the insurance company to assist you in pursuing the maximum monetary compensation available in your car accident case.
Burden of Proof for Recovering Monetary Compensation in a Car Accident Case
When it comes to recovering monetary compensation for injuries suffered in a car accident, the injured passenger has the burden of proof. This means that the accident victim must demonstrate that the driver of his or her motor vehicle and/or another motor vehicle operator acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Driving unreasonably may include running a stop sign or red traffic light, speeding, or violating some other traffic law or rule of the road that exists in the accident victim’s jurisdiction.
In addition, the injured car accident passenger is responsible for proving that he or she suffered an injury in the accident—and that the car accident was a cause of that injury. Although the car accident need not be the sole cause of the injury, it must at least be one of the causes of the injury.
A skilled personal injury attorney in your jurisdiction can assist you with proving all of the legal elements of your passenger injury claim and with pursuing the monetary compensation that you deserve.
Types of Potential Damages a Passenger Car Accident Victim May Pursue
The types of monetary damages available in car accident cases involving passenger injuries depend largely upon the seriousness of the accident and the extent of the injuries sustained. Generally speaking, more serious car crashes result in more serious injuries, and more serious injuries mean extensive medical treatment and a higher potential damages award.
Depending upon the extent of the accident and your injuries, you may pursue monetary compensation for the following:
- Medical bills – As part of your car accident claim, you may recover monetary compensation for all related medical bills and treatment that you received as a result of the injuries you suffered in your accident.
- Lost earnings – In addition to compensation for all related medical bills and treatment, you may recover monetary compensation for wages that you lost as a result of your inability to work.
- Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for all of the inconvenience, pain, and suffering that they had to endure as a result of the injuries which they sustained in their accident.
- Mental distress and emotional anguish – Accident victims can suffer a significant amount of emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder, following an accident, all of which is legally compensable if it is related to the accident.
- Loss of earning capacity – If a passenger is injured so severely in a car accident that he or she cannot return to work (or can return to work but cannot do the same job with the same rate of pay), he or she may make a damage claim for loss of earning capacity.
- Loss of spousal support (consortium) – In cases where a passenger in a car accident receives injuries that are so severe that he or she cannot be intimate with a spouse, then the accident victim may file a claim for loss of spousal support/consortium.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident where you were a passenger, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you pursue these damages, depending upon the circumstances of your case.
Extent of the Injuries Sustained
The types of damages, and the financial amounts related to them, that are available to motor vehicle passengers who are injured in car accidents depend largely upon the extent of the injury or injuries that they sustain.
Passengers in car accidents can suffer serious injuries in a motor vehicle collision. Just because an accident victim was a front or back-seat passenger does not necessarily mean that he or she was injured less severely than the motor vehicle operator. Car accident passengers can be tossed inside the vehicle and may even strike a part of the vehicle, such as a headrest or window, resulting in serious injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that a passenger may sustain in a car accident include:
- Bone fractures – A bone fracture is a broken bone. These types of injuries often occur as a result of trauma and may require a cast or brace for the affected body part to heal.
- Soft tissue injuries – A soft tissue injury usually involves damage to one or more of an accident victim’s ligaments, muscles, or tendons. Sprains, strains, contusions, bursitis, and tendonitis are all examples of soft tissue injuries.
- Paralysis – Paralysis can be either partial or full. In addition, it can affect only one side of the body or both sides, and it usually results from trauma to the accident victim’s back and spinal cord. A paralysis injury may prevent an accident victim from being able to use one or more muscle groups.
- Head and traumatic brain injuries – Head and traumatic brain injuries occur when a certain amount of force is applied to an accident victim’s head. This force can cause the accident victim’s brain to move around inside the head and strike the side of the skull. Traumatic head and brain injuries can lead to concussions, short and long-term memory problems, comas, and even death in serious TBI cases.
- Death – The most severe car accident cases can result in a motor vehicle passenger’s death. When that occurs, the deceased accident victim’s loved ones may assert a wrongful death claim against the driver who was at fault for the accident.
Generally speaking, the more serious the injury a motor vehicle passenger suffers, the more significant the medical treatment and procedures required. This medical treatment can be extremely costly, and as a result, the accident victim may be eligible to receive a greater amount of monetary compensation in the way of damages.
Extent of Treatment Received for the Injuries Sustained
Passengers who suffer one or more injuries in motor vehicle accident cases may require extensive medical treatment to correct or repair the damage. In general, the more medical treatment that is required, the higher the amount of the accident victim’s potential recovery in any personal injury case that is filed.
The nature and extent of the medical treatment that is required after an accident depend upon the severity of the injuries that the passenger sustained in the accident. More serious injuries, like bone fractures, typically involve more significant medical treatment than soft tissue injuries. However, soft tissue injuries may still require physical therapy, and possibly even injections to alleviate injury symptoms.
Some of the most common types of treatment that motor vehicle passengers receive after suffering injuries in an accident include:
- Surgeries – Serious injuries, such as broken bones, may require one or more surgeries to ensure proper healing takes place.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy is often used to help restore functionality to injured body parts and increase the accident victim’s active and passive ranges of motion.
- Injections – Injections are sometimes used as a technique for alleviating pain in a certain body part after sustaining an injury.
- Hospital care – Passengers who are involved in a motor vehicle collision often seek treatment at a local hospital emergency room. Depending upon the seriousness of the accident victim’s injury or injuries, the hospital may ask that the accident victim remain in the hospital for observation.
If you were injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, get initial medical treatment as quickly as possible at a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. It is also advisable to follow up with your primary care doctor (if you have one) as soon as possible after your accident. Finally, you should take care to follow through with any recommendations from the emergency room doctor or primary care doctor regarding additional medical treatment.
Once you have completed all of your medical treatment following your accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can gather all of your records and bills to assist you with filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your lawyer will work to maximize your compensation and help you pursue the financial recovery that you deserve for your injuries.
Amount of Insurance Coverage Available
In most jurisdictions, motor vehicle operators are required to maintain motor vehicle insurance coverage at all times. The minimum amount of insurance coverage that a driver must maintain depends upon the jurisdiction where the driver resides. Essentially, the maximum amount of insurance coverage available under a policy represents the maximum amount that you can recover in damages. For example, if the at-fault driver had a $50,000/$100,000 policy, that means that no single accident victim (including the driver and any passengers) can receive more than $50,000, and no more than $100,000 may be awarded in the aggregate.
In some cases, at-fault drivers of other vehicles do not carry motor vehicle insurance coverage—or they do not carry sufficient coverage to compensate you for the injuries that you suffered in your accident. If that is the case, you may turn to your own insurance company (or the insurance company for the driver/owner of the vehicle in which you were a passenger) and present an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim for damages. An uninsured motorist claim is available if the other driver did not have motor vehicle insurance coverage. You may assert an underinsured motorist claim if the other driver did not have enough coverage in place to compensate you for your injuries and damages.
Obviously, the extent of your damages depends upon the amounts of insurance coverage that are available under the circumstances of your motor vehicle accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will work to maximize the amount of damages you can recover as a passenger in your motor vehicle accident case.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today About the Injuries You Suffered as a Motor Vehicle Passenger
If you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision in which you were a passenger, time may be of the essence. Depending upon your jurisdiction, you may have as little as one year from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for damages. After that point, you will no longer be eligible to make a damage claim. Consequently, it is important to contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible about your accident. A lawyer will file your claim or lawsuit promptly and pursue on your behalf the monetary compensation you deserve.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096