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What To Do as an Injured Passenger

Dec. 6, 2021

A woman passenger in a car holds her neckAny kind of accident can be stressful—emotionally, physically, and financially. If you were injured as a passenger, though, you may be feeling completely overwhelmed. Your path forward may not be entirely clear.

Whether you were injured in a one-car accident or one involving more than one vehicle, you likely have no fault for the crash. Inevitably, that makes someone else liable for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Nichols Law Offices, PLLC can help. In fact, Mr. Nichols has been helping injured passengers in Syracuse, New York, and in Fort Drum, Utica, Watertown, Rome, and throughout Jefferson County for nearly three decades.

Who Is at Fault for My Injuries?

New York is one of a handful of states that are no-fault insurance jurisdictions. Regardless of who was at fault for an accident, the auto owner’s no-fault insurance personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays up to the policy limits for not only themselves and members of their household, but for any passengers who are injured while in the vehicle.

Basic no-fault policies include $50,000 in coverage for medical and rehabilitation expenses, income lost while you are unable to work, and expenses you incur as a result, including house-cleaning services, transportation to and from medical appointments, and more.

Although New York is a no-fault state, if your injuries rise to a certain level of severity or your medical expenses exceed the limits of the driver’s PIP coverage, you can file a third-party claim against the liability insurance coverage of any negligent driver. This may involve filing a claim against the driver of your vehicle if they are assigned a percentage of fault for the crash, as well as any other drivers who are assigned fault. In New York, all auto owners are required to carry liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person. Liability insurance provides coverage for claims of passengers in a vehicle as well as anyone injured in another vehicle.

Additionally, if the negligent driver did not have liability insurance, you can file a claim against the uninsured motorist coverage for the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger.

How Do I File a Claim?

You would first file a claim against the PIP coverage of the owner of the vehicle in which you were a passenger. PIP is priority coverage for medical bills, so it pays before your own health insurance.

If your injuries are serious as defined by law—which requires permanent disfigurement, fractures, significant or permanent limitations, or full disability for 90 days or longer—or if the cost of medical treatment for your injuries exceeds the limits of your driver’s PIP coverage, you can pursue third-party claims against the liability coverage for all negligent parties.

Can Passengers Be Assigned Fault?

Filing personal injury claims requires proof that someone was negligent. When you are injured as a passenger in a vehicle, someone’s negligence caused your injuries. A passenger can rarely be assigned any percentage of fault; however, passenger liability is certainly not impossible.

If, for example, you were grabbing the steering wheel at the time of the crash or obscuring the view of the driver, you would be liable for the accident. Although PIP coverage pays regardless of liability, if you pursued a third-party liability claim, any award would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Passenger claims to recover compensation for their damages can be considerably more complicated than no-fault and liability claims made by drivers. An experienced personal injury attorney like Mr. Nichols understands the complexities of these kinds of cases and knows where and how to access available coverage.

If you have been injured as a passenger in a vehicle in Syracuse, New York, or the surrounding area, call to schedule a free one-on-one consultation.