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Most blogs focus on the losses and the damages suffered by the drivers. There is a wealth of information, guidance and advice extended to the drivers as the victim and as the responsible party.

But, what about the passengers?

The legal team as the firm of Dallas W. Hartman, PC, want the public to be aware of the rights of passengers should they have the unfortunate experience of suffering a loss or injury resulting from a car accident.

The Liability for Passenger Injuries

All injured passengers have the right to seek recovery for losses suffered in a car accident. However, they need guidance and advice as to how to pursue their claim and to understand the coverage provided in insurance policies.

The process of determining liability in accidents that involve more than one car is complicated. The injured passenger needs to first look to the insurance policy of their driver. Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, and this means that the policy will cover economic damages like repairs, lost wages and medical expenses regardless of fault. However, it is common for these policies to not compensate for serious injuries or any non-economic damage, like pain and suffering.

There are more considerations to a multi-car accident. If both drivers are assessed with some degree of fault, then both policies need to be examined for coverage. In Pennsylvania, all drivers must have either full or limited tort coverage to cover injuries suffered by the passengers in the vehicle. Limited tort coverage will cover injuries that are deemed extensive and irreparable. Death is included in this injury category. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to initially refuse coverage of an injury it deems to not meet this “severity” standard.

If a passenger sustained injuries resulting from an accident involving only the car in which the passenger was riding, then the claim may be resolved directly with the driver. Typically, insurance policies contain specific provisions if an injured passenger is a family member.

Cases for No Driver Liability

There are cases where the driver is not responsible for the injuries of their passengers. These cases involve driving in a storm, when an object hits the car or if the car malfunctioned due to a mechanical or manufacturing issue.

Post-Accident Advice

First and foremost, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible and to follow all medical instructions. It is important for an injured passenger to understand and know the extent of their injuries. The present and future medical expenses, the lost wages and any other economic losses can be compensated through the insurance policy of the negligent driver(s).

It will be very helpful to have documentation prepared by the injured passenger to supplement the medical records.

If the insurance policy of the driver(s) responsible for the accident will not cover the full value of the claim, then this is the time to consider filing a lawsuit to recover the full amount of the damages.

The Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania law stipulates that personal injury claims must be filed within two years from the date of the accident. There are certainly exceptions, but these exceptions are narrow and limited. If a claim is not filed within the two-year time frame, then it is likely that the right to file and seek full recovery will be lost and forever barred.

It is one thing to fall victim to a car accident as a passenger, but it is certainly another to fall victim to the process.

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