If you were injured in a motorcycle or car accident while riding as a passenger, you might be wondering whether you have the right to pursue a tort claim and seek compensation for your injuries. The short answer is – yes, you have the right to do so.
The Right of an Injured Passenger to Pursue Legal Action
Personal injury laws are designed to impose a financial cost on people who negligently injure others and to make sure that the victims are compensated for their injuries. So, a passenger who is injured in a motorcycle or car accident has the same rights that the driver has – or any other party that was injured in the accident has – to seek monetary damages for their injuries.
Who Can You Seek Compensation From?
Depending on the circumstances, more than one party can be held liable for your injuries.
The Driver of Your Vehicle
If the driver of the vehicle (in which you were riding as a passenger) lost control and crashed into a stationary object or another vehicle, they can be held liable for your injuries.
For example, if the driver in question was talking on the phone, driving over the speed limit, or failed to follow the rules of the road, it is a clear case of negligence and they can be held responsible for the accident.
The Driver of the Other Vehicle
If there was another vehicle involved in the accident, and if the accident was caused primarily or directly as a result of the other driver’s actions, you can hold them liable for your injuries.
For example, if your vehicle was rear-ended by a negligent driver or if the other driver crashed into your vehicle recklessly, they can be held responsible for the accident.
If both drivers were partially at fault for the accident, you can file a tort claim against both of them and seek damages.
If the primary cause of the accident is determined to be a mechanical defect, the company which manufactured the defective part in question can be held liable for your injuries.
Shared Liability vs. Individual Liability
Generally speaking, if there are two or more liable parties, you have a better chance of recovering the compensation you deserve than you do if there is only one party that can be held liable.
For example, if you suffer tangible and intangible losses worth $100,000 in the accident, and if the at-fault party only has $50,000 in third-party liability coverage, you might have no option but to receive $50,000 as compensation – even thought it might not be sufficient to cover all your expenses.
In the aforementioned scenario, if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, you can seek $50,000 (which is the difference between the total value of your claim and the amount paid out by the at-fault party’s insurance company) from your own insurance company. If, on the other hand, you do not have UM/UIM coverage, you can only recover $50,000 in damages.
Let us now assume that you suffered tangible and intangible losses worth $100,000 and there are two at-fault parties (the driver of your vehicle as well as the other driver) who can be held liable for your injuries. In this case, if each of them has $50,000 in third-party liability coverage, you can file a tort claim against both of them and receive $100,000 in total.
Damages Recoverable by Injured Passengers
As an injured passenger, you have the right to seek an appropriate amount of restitution for the tangible and intangible losses listed below.
- Medical expenses
- Cost of rehabilitation and therapy
- Cost of long-term treatment and care
- Cost of mobility aids (in the event of a physical disability)
- Cost of repairing or replacing personal belongings that were damaged in the accident
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
The Importance of Legal Representation
If you have only suffered minor injuries, you might not need a lawyer, as the at-fault party’s insurance company might be willing to settle the case quickly by paying you what you demand.
If, on the other hand, you have suffered serious injuries, getting legal help is absolutely critical. An experienced personal injury attorney can dig deep into your case, assess the extent of the economic and non-economic losses you suffered, and determine the value of your claim. They can also handle the settlement negotiation process, take your case to court if necessary, and recover the restitution you are owed.
Legal representation is particularly important if you live in a state which follows the doctrine of pure contributory negligence, under which you cannot recover any restitution if it is found that your own negligence contributed to the accident in the least bit. So, having a skilled personal injury attorney by your side is the best way to increase your chances of securing the monetary damages you deserve.
Take the first step toward securing the compensation you deserve by reaching out to an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area today.