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Injury Claims for Passengers in Car Accidents

It is a common occurrence that injury claims for passengers in car accidents are awarded a greater amount of compensation than the amount usually received by a driver who is injured due to the negligence of a third party. Most often the reasons for this are one of the following:-

  • The injuries sustained by the passenger are more severe than that of the driver because the passenger had less time to prepare for impact in comparison to the driver who may have seen the potential for an accident to occur as they may have been paying greater attention to the road.
  • Generally, car passengers are women and children and they have weaker tissue leaving them vulnerable to more extensive soft tissue injury.

Passengers are usually in a strong position to make compensation claim for injuries sustained in a car accident as they are rarely at fault for the incident. However a common assumption made by passengers that is incorrect is that if two or more of them are injured in the same accident and suffer the exact same injuries; they will be entitled to the same amount of compensation. Please remember when making a compensation claim for a passenger injured in a car accident that this is not always the case. The level of compensation awarded for injuries sustained will depend on the impact the injuries have on your long-term health and your everyday life.

Eligibility to make a Compensation Claim for a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident

If you have been injured in a rear end collision, a traffic accident caused by a third party or injured in a vehicle where the driver is responsible, you may be entitled claim car accident compensation for passengers.

Of course making a claim such as the one described above can be quite an emotional experience as often in these cases the driver of the vehicle in which you were injured is a friend or relative, however you should always remember that your claim for compensation is against the driver’s insurance company and not the driver themselves.

If your injury was sustained as a result of an accident caused by a poorly maintained road surface you also may be entitled to claim compensation as it is likely the council, a utility company or a private landowner is liable for not maintaining the road if they were responsible for it.

Steps you should take if Claiming Car Accident Compensation

The success of a compensation claim for a passenger injured in a car accident depends a great deal on the preparation of the claim. If possible, you should attempt to obtain details/reports of the accident and contact the driver of the vehicle in which you were injured as they may have additional information.

You are advised to discuss the nature of your car accident and the injuries you sustained with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity available to you as they will be able to explain the steps you must take when claiming car accident compensation for passengers. Below, are the essential steps you are advised to take in the aftermath of an accident in which you were injured.

Health and Safety are a Priority – Your first priority in the aftermath of an accident should always be your health and safety. Timely medical attention could be the difference between suffering long-term health problems and making a full recovery. You must seek professional medical attention as soon as possible, not only will it be good for your health but it will also aid any claim you may pursue for compensation. Without a record of your injury in your medical history it will be very difficult to support an injury claim for a passenger in a car accident.

If there is an unjustifiable delay in seeking professional medical care, the negligent party’s insurance company could allege that you exacerbated your own injury through your own lack of care which will have a negative impact on your compensation claim for a passenger injured in a car accident.

Gather evidence and complete formalities – Assuming you have sought professional medical attention it would be wise to collect evidence of negligence if at all possible. Record the contact details of witnesses and the registration/insurance details of everybody involved in the accident as the information may prove useful in the preparation of your claim.

If it has not been done already you should report your accident to the police as it will aid your claim for compensation, the police will record the incident in their ‘Accident Report Book’. If you are unfortunate enough to sustain injuries in an accident where the negligent driver flees the scene without exchanging contact or insurance details, possibly because they are uninsured; this is a criminal offence in the UK. If you were unable to obtain their contact details the police could utilise CCTV footage in order to track the driver.

If they are unable to apprehend the hit and run driver or if they are found to be uninsured you may still be eligible to claim car accident compensation for passengers. You will make your claim against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau – an organisation founded by insurance companies to compensate passengers who are injured in car accidents when the negligent driver is untraceable or uninsured.

Making a Claim for Car Accident Compensation for Passengers

Once you appoint a solicitor and decide to pursue your claim for compensation; a set process begins.

Your solicitor will first send a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the negligent party’s insurance company (if the driver is uninsured/untraceable this will be the MIB or the local council/utility company/other third party if your injuries can be attributed to an unsafe road condition), they have twenty-one days to acknowledge their receipt of this letter and a further ninety days to respond to your solicitor indicating whether or not they accept liability for your injury.

If liability is acknowledged and all the consequences of your injuries are known, your solicitor will enter into negotiations with the insurance companies. He/she will seek to obtain your maximum entitlement of compensation for passengers in car accidents

If liability is not accepted your solicitor will discuss other options available to you and whether it is worth your while pursuing the claim through the courts. If court proceedings are initiated by your solicitor the insurance company may seek an out-of-court settlement as they will be liable for both their own and your court costs if their defence against your claim proves unsuccessful.

Of course the negligent party’s insurance company may approach you with a direct or unsolicited offer of compensation for you injury, you should inform your solicitor immediately of any such offer; we will explain why later in this guide.

How much Compensation am I Entitled to?

The severity of the injuries suffered and the impact they will have on your long-term health and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks that were part of your life before the accident will affect the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. It is important to remember that no two cases are the same and the compensation awarded to claimants can vary, generally injury claims for passengers in car accidents amount to significantly more than the compensation awarded to drivers.

The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines for General Damages in Personal Injury Claims is used as a guide to calculate general damages you will be entitled to for physical and psychological injuries you have sustained as a passenger in a car accident. The amount awarded will also be influenced by your age, gender and your general state of health prior to the car accident. You may also be eligible to claim compensation for a ‘loss of amenity’ if your injuries mean you are unable to live the day-to-day life you had before the accident and/or participate in any hobbies and social activities you enjoyed. It would be helpful for your claim if you maintained a diary, recording the occasions in which your injuries prevented you from participating in everyday events.

Additionally you will also be able to claim ‘special damages’ for any expenses you incurred as a direct result of your injury. The intention of special damages is to return your financial position to what it was before the accident occurred. For example, a loss of income due to being unable to work or any medication or equipment that had to be purchased as a result of your injury could be claimed for although you will need to provide proof of these expenses so it is advised you keep all your receipts. You may also be entitled to compensation for any emotional trauma you have suffered as a result of your accident either due to the circumstances surrounding the collision or difficulties experienced in your recovery such as being unable to pursue favoured leisure activities. You must have any psychological trauma verified by a psychologist if you intend to claim compensation for it.

You should also be aware that if you knowingly got into a car where – the driver was uninsured, over the legal limit of alcohol or under the influence of drugs – you can still claim car accident compensation for passengers, but the amount you receive may be reduced due to what the court would deem as contributory negligence on your own behalf as you were aware of the risk you were taking when you got into the car.

Direct and Unsolicited Offers in a Compensation Claim for a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident

As mentioned earlier once the insurance company is satisfied their policyholder is responsible for your injury they may approach you with a direct offer of compensation. An unsolicited offer of compensation usually comes very early in the aftermath of an accident, when you are at your most vulnerable. Therefore, it is common that the amount of compensation offered is calculated before the full consequences of your injury are known.

Although an early compensation offer can be very tempting, especially if you are worried about your current financial position you should be aware that without an accurate assessment of the total cost of your injury, you are risking under compensation, as accepting an offer of compensation without knowledge of the full impact of your injury could leave you with an inadequate amount of money to support your family or pay your medical care and you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more if short term finances are a concern, your solicitor should be able to arrange for interim payments of car accident injury compensation until such a time that your compensation claim for a passenger injured in a car accident is satisfactorily resolved.

Further Advice on Injury Claims for Passengers in Car Accidents

If you are seeking compensation for injuries sustained as a passenger in a car accident you are best advised to speak with a solicitor to discuss the process for injury claims for passengers in car accidents. The majority of solicitors in the UK offer free initial consultation for car accident compensation for passengers claims. Once your claim is evaluated they may offer you legal representation on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis, if they deem your claim has a sufficient chance of success.

  • Generally passengers are awarded more compensation than drivers.
  • Passengers can still claim compensation if they were travelling in the car which was responsible for the collision.
  • If the negligent driver cannot be traced or is uninsured, a passenger can still claim compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. In all other cases the claim is made against the negligent party’s insurance company.
  • A compensation claim for a passenger injured in a car accident may be affected if it is found that they knowingly place themselves in risk of danger.
  • Your first priority if you are injured in a collision should be to seek professional medical attention and following that you are advised to collect evidence of negligence, exchange insurance and contact details and report the accident to police.
  • The amount of compensation a passenger is entitled to will be affected by the nature and severity of their injuries.
  • You are advised to report and unsolicited offers of compensation from the negligent party’s insurance company to your solicitor immediately.

Please bear in mind that no two injury claims for passengers in car accidents are the same and you are advised to discuss the relevant points raised in the preceding article with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity if you have recently been a passenger involved in a car accident and feel that you have a potential claim.