The more passengers there are in a car, the higher the risk for collision injuries. In fact, the driver’s natural instinct for self-preservation often places passengers in harm’s way. To avoid a collision, a driver will instinctively turn the steering wheel away from the oncoming obstacle and inadvertently move the passengers directly into the obstacle’s path.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 20,000 passengers were killed as a result of car accident injuries, while driver fatalities numbered 15,000. Despite this discrepancy, accident injury information tends to be geared towards drivers, not passengers. In this article, we will help you understand your rights and options for injury claims as a passenger hurt in a car accident.
To pursue a successful injury claim for any accident, the two fundamentals you need to prove are fault and injury severity. Tennessee law does not usually recognize passenger liability in car accidents (unless the passenger purposefully grabbed the wheel). Therefore, there is no need to prove your innocence. However, although you’re clearly not responsible, the insurance company will demand verification as to which party was at fault. In these types of situations, as a passenger, you have several possible avenues through which to seek compensation. These include:
- Your driver. The driver of the vehicle in which you were the passenger could be held liable by all parties (other driver and other passengers) if his negligence led to the collision. Although you may not want to accuse a friend or loved one of causing your injuries, a claim against him may be your only option for recovery.
- The other driver. If the driver of the vehicle that crashed into you is determined to be at fault, you are eligible to file a claim against him and his insurance company for damages.
- Third party negligence. In a case where an outside factor (Construction, road damage) caused or contributed to the collision, you may be able to pursue a claim against a third party. For example, if a company did not install appropriate flashing lights, orange barrels, or other warning signs to indicate a hazard, the road construction company may be considered liable for your resulting injuries.
- Personal insurance. By default, Tennessee auto insurance policies include coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists. Therefore, if the liable party does not have the insurance to cover his negligent responsibilities, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages due to your injuries.
- All of the above. Tennessee is a fault state; meaning that those responsible for your injuries are liable for your damages. It also means that liability can be divided among multiple parties, each party being responsible for the percentage of the damages for which he was found liable.
Filing the Claim
When pursuing a car accident injury claim, whether you were the driver, passenger, or pedestrian, as a victim, you’ll need help filing your claim, understanding your rights, and convincing the insurance company that your injuries require a fair settlement. At GriffithLaw, we’re here to give you the guidance and support you need to pursue a successful personal injury claim. Call 615-807-7900 to schedule your FREE consultation today!
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