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Claims for Passengers Injured in Car Accidents

Claims for passengers injured in car accidents frequently amount to substantially more than what is awarded to drivers. The reason for this is two-fold – the first being that passengers in road traffic accidents are often children, who have weaker muscles and a result often suffer worse injuries; the second is that passengers do not have the split-second advantage to brace themselves that is afforded to drivers when they realise an accident is imminent.

Passengers in collisions are often in a better position than a driver to legally claim compensation as an accident is rarely the fault of a passenger. However, claiming for compensation as a passenger can often be more complicated than claiming as a driver as there is a risk of being undercompensated because of the sometimes made incorrect assumption that two claimants who suffer identical injuries in the same accident are automatically entitled to the same amount of compensation.

Claiming for Compensation as a Passenger

While most examples of claims for passengers injured in car accidents involve claims against the driver of another vehicle or injuries sustained during a rear end accident, it is also possible for a passenger to claim against the driver of the vehicle in which they were travelling if they were the person at fault for the accident.

Passengers injured in collisions who are claiming against the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling can understandably be an emotive affair, particularly if they are a friend or family member and were also hurt in the accident; it is important to remember however, that car accident claims are made against the insurance policy of a driver and not the person themselves.

Claiming compensation as a passenger may also be possible if a road traffic accident is caused by a poorly maintained surface. In this case the party which would be claimed against may be a local council which is responsible for the upkeep of the road, a utility company, or a private land owner.

Procedures to Follow for Passengers Injured in Collisions

If you are in the process of researching claims for passengers injured in car accidents it is likely that you have undertaken these steps already; if you have not, you should do so at the first available opportunity. It could be that the driver of the vehicle in which you are travelling has already completed some of them.

If you are claiming compensation as a passenger and are in any doubt as to the procedures that need to be followed in relation to your own car accident claim, you should speak to a solicitor who specialises in road traffic accident claims immediately.

Your Health and Safety is Your Priority

No amount of money procured from claims for passengers injured in car accidents will compensate for having to contend with a long-term health issue which could have been prevented with timely and appropriate medical attention. Summoning an ambulance or if necessary, visiting the accident and emergency department of the nearest hospital should be your fist priority when you are injured in a road traffic accident.

Receiving treatment as quickly as possible after the accident is not only the most effective way to safeguard your health, it is also vital in terms of being awarded car accident claims compensation. Passengers injured in collisions will need to produce a full medical report detailing the injuries sustained in the accident in order to support their claim for compensation – receiving first aid at the scene or tending to your injuries yourself will not be viewed as sufficient enough action. If you do not possess or cannot obtain a full medical report of your injuries you should visit your GP immediately.

Although claiming for compensation as a passenger is made easier when you collect the contact details and testimonies of witnesses present at the time of the accident, you will not receive compensation for an injury which you aggravated through your own lack of care.

Complete Post-Accident Procedures When it is Safe To Do So

Claims for passengers injured in car accidents will require you or the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling to complete all of the post-accident procedures. A driver or another passenger may have already informed the police of the accident, if not, it is not too late to contact them – if they did not attend the scene – and submit an entry in their “Accident Report Book”.

Claiming for compensation as a passenger will also require you to obtain the name and insurance details of the driver responsible for your injures. If these are unknown or you are unable to obtain them the police may be able to help using CCTV or roadside camera footage. If the negligent driver fled the scene after the accident it may mean that he was uninsured or otherwise in eligible to drive – this will give the police reason to pursue him.

Car accident claims are still possible even if the driver responsible was uninsured. In this case passengers injured in collisions should pursue a claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, an organisation established by insurance companies in the 1940s to compensate injured drivers and passengers who have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or untraceable driver.

Making Claims for Passengers Injured in Car Accidents

Claims for passengers injured in car accidents are pursued following a standard procedure. First, your solicitor will issue the negligent party’s insurance company – or the utility company or local council as the case may be – with a Letter of Claim, a document advising them that their client – you – intends to take action against them (when a driver is unable to be located and/or is uninsured, the letter of claim is sent to the MIB). The letter is accompanied by any evidence you hold which suggests that the negligent party is responsible for your injuries.

Once the letter has been dispatched the insurance company has 21 days in which to acknowledge that they received it, and another 90 days in which to investigate the accident and decide whether they are going to accept liability for their policyholder’s negligence. If liability for your injuries is accepted – and the full scope of your injuries is known – your solicitor will enter into negotiations in order to secure the largest possible settlement.

If the insurance company does not accept liability, the next stage in claiming compensation as a passenger will commence and your solicitor will issue court proceedings. Car accident claims do not always reach court however, not even at this point. Faced with the prospect of going to court and paying out for legal fees, an insurance company may decide to settle outside of court to save itself any hassle. Passengers injured in collisions may at this stage receive an unsolicited offer of compensation; as discussed below, you should always inform your solicitor if this happens.

How Much Compensation for Car Accident Claims?

The amount of compensation issued for claims for passengers injured in car accidents depends on a number of factors not least of all the extent and severity of the injuries and the affect they will have on your life. Each claim is assessed on its individual merits, and as mentioned at the beginning of the article claims for passengers injured in collisions can amount to substantially more than what is awarded to drivers.

The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines for General Damages in Personal Injuries Claims serves as the point of reference for general damages awarded in car accident claims. Persons claiming compensation as a passenger will have their age, gender and prior state of health taken into consideration before a decision is made on the size of an award. Loss of amenity – compensation for not being able to enjoy activities – leisure, home or work related – which you engaged in before the accident will also be taken into account.

It will be helpful when claiming for compensation as a passenger if you can produce when asked examples of times when your injuries inhibited you and prevented you from participating in activities in which you took part before the accident – for this reason it is advisable that you keep a diary of your day-to-day life after the accident, and note any instances in which your injuries prevented you from participating in an activity as you would have before sustaining your injuries.

Please note: If you are claiming for compensation as a passenger after being injured in a car accident where the driver had been consuming alcohol – or was otherwise ineligible to drive – and you knew, you will still be entitled to claim compensation, however the size of the award you may receive would be substantially reduced to reflect the risk you took in knowingly placing yourself in danger.

Passenger Claims and Insurance Companies

Once an insurance company has been made aware that one of their policyholders is the subject of a claim – either because of the submission of a Letter of Claim or because they themselves contacted the company – a person pursuing claims for passengers injured in car accidents may be approached directly by an insurance company with an unsolicited offer of compensation, a method often employed by them to settle car accident claims.

Passengers injured in collisions who receive an unsolicited offer of compensation from an insurance company should notify a solicitor immediately. Unsolicited offers of compensation are often made before the full extent of an injury is known, and thus may be entirely inappropriate. Insurance companies often issue these offers directly after an accident – when you are at your most vulnerable – and as much as the thought of a quick resolution and a short-term settlement might be appealing, if you inadvertently accept an unsolicited offer of compensation and it turns out later on that you under-settled and need more compensation, it will not be possible to return to negotiations as the settlement will be considered to have been finalised.

If persons claiming for compensation as a passenger are concerned about their short-term finances their solicitor may be able to arrange for the release of interim payments from the insurance company, provided liability has been accepted.

Legal Advice About Claiming for Compensation as a Passenger

Persons who have been involved in car accident where they, a member of their family or another passenger have been injured are advised to contact a solicitor who specialises in claims for passengers injured in car accidents. Most solicitors in the UK offer a free initial consultation to passengers injured in collisions. If a solicitor believes that your case has a high chance – usually above 75 percent – chance of succeeding, they may offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis.

Summary – Claims for Passengers Injured in Car Accidents

Claims for passengers injured in car accidents are possible even when the driver of the car in which you were travelling was at fault for the accident

Passengers injured in collisions where there is no insurance policy from which to claim can pursue a claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau

Persons claiming compensation as a passenger who knowingly place themselves at risk of danger may not be awarded full compensation and may have to share some of the responsibility for their injuries

Seeking medical treatment after an accident takes precedence over collecting evidence, reporting the accident to the police or exchanging insurance details with the other drivers involved in the accident.

How much compensation is awarded for car accident claims depends on the nature and severity of the injuries sustained.

Any unsolicited offers of car accident compensation received by passengers should be referred to a solicitor at the first available opportunity.