How Injured Passengers Can File an Accident Claim for Compensation

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

January 9, 2023


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 3.4 million Americans visit the emergency room (ER) each year due to car accidents, resulting in $75 billion in medical expenditures and lost productivity.

For bodily injury cases, the average auto insurance payment is close to $18,500. If you’re a passenger in a car accident, you have legal rights, including the ability to seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, the policy that covers the car you’re traveling in, and even your auto insurance policy.

The amount of money you may get from a car accident claim is determined by the severity of your injuries and the quantity of insurance coverage you have.


Consider the following scenario:

Soft-tissue injuries such as bumps, bruising, and minor sprains have a nuisance value of less than $15,000

For moderate injuries, such as a broken arm, a settlement of $50,000-75,000 may be reached to cover medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, may cost millions of dollars in compensation for individuals who are permanently handicapped.

Several providers may offer passenger accident coverage: The driver of the car in which you were riding. If not the driver, the owner of the car you were riding in. The driver of another car involved in the collision was at fault. The owner of any other car involved in the collision, if not the driver. If you have one, your auto policy


To collect the compensation you deserve, you must be aware of the policies and coverage that may apply to your circumstance.

In no-fault insurance jurisdictions, medical payments coverage is required, whereas, in others, it is an optional kind of coverage. The claimant does not have to establish responsibility to be rewarded under PIP.

Depending on the state, PIP coverage limitations may vary from $3,000 to $50,000. PIP provides coverage for the driver and any passengers for injury-related expenses such as:

Medical expenses Lost wages

The expense of getting to and from your doctor’s visits. Substitute services, such as daycare PIP does not reimburse for pain and suffering. As determined by state criteria, it pays “reasonable” out-of-pocket expenditures up to the set maximum. Acupuncture, for example, is covered as a medical therapy under PIP in Utah but not in California.

PIP-Related Scenarios

and Passengers Who Have Been Injured

If you were injured while riding in someone else’s car (not a family member) and have your no-fault auto insurance, the driver’s PIP coverage is typically primary.

Your PIP coverage may pay for expenditures that exceed the PIP limitations set by the driver.

If you were a passenger in someone else’s car and were seriously wounded in a two-car collision, you must first seek PIP from the driver of the car you were in.

You may seek reimbursement from that-fault driver’s liability insurance if your losses surpass the state’s “injury threshold.”

If you were injured as a passenger and didn’t have your car insurance, you may be able to get PIP coverage via a household/family member who has.


In most states, medical payments (MedPay) coverage is optional. Monday, like PIP, covers for injuries to a motorist and their passengers regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

MedPay is different from PIP in that it solely covers necessary medical expenditures. It does not compensate for missed earnings or substitute services such as daycare.

Low limitations for MedPay coverage are common, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Liability for bodily injury (BI)

When the policyholder is at fault for the accident, bodily injury liability (BI) coverage may assist pay an accident victim’s medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Most states have minimum liability coverage requirements, while drivers may choose extra coverage.

California, for example, has the following minimal requirements:

  • $15,000 for each individual injured or killed in an accident.
  • $30,000 for any accident involving several persons who are injured or killed
  • $5,000 for damage to property

The at-fault driver’s insurance company may provide bodily injury liability coverage to injured passengers.

If the at-fault motorist is your spouse or another family member, you may be denied coverage. If you disagree with the insurance company’s judgment, you should speak with an injury attorney about your alternatives.

Motorist Coverage (Uninsured/Underinsured)

In most states, uninsured motorist coverage is required. Uninsured drivers are those who do not have any insurance. Many states mandate car insurance plans to include uninsured motorist coverage if an uninsured driver strikes the policyholder.

Uninsured motorist coverage pays for the following:

The policyholder’s name

Covered family members

Passengers in the policyholder’s car (differs by policy)

If you were a passenger in a car that an uninsured-fault driver struck, you might be eligible to claim reimbursement from the driver’s insurance. You may, for example, submit a claim with their PIP or MedPay. Depending on your policy, you may be able to use underinsured motorist BI coverage to pay for your injury expenses.

Suppose the driver of the car you were in does not have coverage for passengers. In that case, you may submit a claim for PIP, MedPay, or uninsured bodily injury coverage under your auto insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage is an optional add-on to the most car insurance policy.

Accident-related injury bills that exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance limitations are covered by underinsured coverage. If another driver caused the collision, you might be able to submit a claim on the uninsured motorist coverage from the driver of the car you were in.

You would seek reimbursement from their PIP/MedPay and liability coverage if you were riding with the at-fault driver (not your spouse or household member).

If your expenditures exceed the limitations of the driver’s coverage, you may be able to file an underinsured motorist claim against your policy.

If your injuries are serious enough to exhaust the at-fault driver’s responsibility limitations, you should hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim.

Injury Compensation Limiting Factors

Because you won’t have to establish responsibility to have your medical costs reimbursed as an injured passenger, you should have no issue collecting reimbursement for minor injuries under either PIP or MedPay coverage.

It’s a different matter when it comes to liability insurance claims.

If you can’t establish that the insured motorist was at fault, you won’t get a penny. Most adjusters will go to whatever length to reject or minimize your claim, which may include putting part of the responsibility on you.

Passenger Misconduct

Passengers in a car have a responsibility to protect themselves. In other words, a passenger must take the same precautions for his or her safety as a

reasonably sensible individual would in the same situation. A passenger who fails to perform this obligation may be held responsible for their injury.

Insurance adjusters, for example, will look to see whether the wounded passenger: Intentionally got into a car with a drunk driver.

Forgot to put on a seat belt or a shoulder harness.

Participated in high-risk activities, such as riding in a pickup truck’s open bed.

In some cases, the passenger’s actions may diminish or eliminate the amount that may be recovered.

Shared Responsibility for Injuries

Insurance adjusters often exploit shared-fault legislation to dismiss or decrease personal injury claims.

Thankfully, only a few jurisdictions have pure contributory negligence rules, which stipulate that an injured person may be refused compensation if they are somewhat to blame for their injuries.

Negligence in Comparison

The majority of states have passed more friendly comparative or contributory negligence legislation.

You still have a claim to compensation in these states, as long as you are not equally or more to fault for the conditions that led to your injuries.

Adjusters are ready to blame the victim if it spares the insurance company from a large claim.

If you disagree with the adjuster’s allocation of responsibility for your injuries, get legal assistance from a local attorney.

Multiple Injury Victims in Accidents

You may not obtain full compensation if many parties are hurt, yet there is limited insurance coverage. Most insurance companies will file an “interpleader action,” asking the court to determine how to distribute the available liability coverage among all aggrieved parties.

The court may evaluate if any wounded persons have additional sources of compensation, such as PIP, MedPay, or underinsured motorist coverage, depending on

the state. Common Scenarios with Injured Passengers

The most crucial thing for passengers in car accidents is who is accountable for reimbursement.

In various instances, the accountable party will be different. Car of a family member or a friend

You claim with that person’s insurance if you are injured while a buddy is driving.

You may be hesitant to do so, but keep in mind that you’re submitting a claim with their insurance company, not with the person.

If a family member or acquaintance is partially to blame, they may be responsible for a portion of your compensation.

If another driver was at fault but did not have adequate coverage for your injuries, you may have to submit an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your driver’s insurance.

However, suppose the at-fault driver is a member of your direct family. In that case, you may be deemed an insured person under their policy and hence not eligible for a responsibility claim.

Taking a Ride in a WorkCar

If you were injured as a passenger in a work car, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation if you were on company business.

You might be able to claim your coworker’s or driver’s car insurance if he or she was totally or substantially at fault.

If your injuries in a work car were caused by a collision with another car operated by an at-fault driver, the at-fault driver is responsible.

Even if the other driver is at fault, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation payments if you were in the company car on the business.

Keep in mind that if you get a settlement from the at-fault driver’s car policy, the workers’ compensation insurance company will almost always include alien in your settlement funds.

Accidents involving buses result in injuries.

Public transportation bus and school bus operators are insured by more extensive insurance plans than traditional car drivers.

The bus operator’s insurance protects not just the bus and the bus driver but also all passengers aboard the bus in the case of a collision.

The insurance company determines the extent to which a bus company’s insurance will protect you. Some regulations limit each bus passenger to a certain amount, while others deposit money in a pool distributed to each passenger. Passengers are then in charge of filing claims against the pool.

If the driver of another car caused the bus accident, you might sue the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.

Ridesharing Services

What if you get hurt while utilizing a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft?

If you are involved in an accident where another motorist collides with your Uber transport, the at-fault driver is responsible for your injuries.

You’ll claim with that driver’s insurer.

However, if your driver was at fault, which you recover from may differ.

In general, rideshare drivers must get their own state-approved personal car insurance. This means you’ll have to claim with the Uber driver’s insurance company.

However, the ridesharing service’s insurance should be able to provide coverage. Child Passengers

Minors under the age of 18 are deemed minors and cannot bring a claim on their behalf. The claim must be filed by the underage victim’s parent or legal guardian.

Most minors involved in car accidents have a lengthier statute of limitations than adults, with most cases not starting until the youngster reaches the age of 18.

When a court authorizes a settlement for a child victim, the parent or guardian must accept it.

The compensation is sometimes given to child victims when they reach 18, and it is given to them in installments over a predetermined length of time.

After a Car Accident, What Should You Do?

Similar to a car accident in which you are the driver, there are particular activities you may take to improve your chances of collecting compensation.

Immediately after a collision:

Call 911 and alert the operator if you or anyone else is hurt. Gather data from the drivers involved.

Take as many films and images of the situation as you feel secure doing so, or ask someone else to do so for you.

Allow paramedics to transport you to the hospital if they believe it is necessary.

If you aren’t sent to the hospital right away, get medical help as soon as possible, ideally the same day.

During your rehabilitation, you should:

While the circumstances surrounding the accident are still vivid in your memory, write down everything that occurred.

Request a copy of the police report.

Make copies of your medical records, medical bills, and out-of-pocket spending receipts.

Make an accident file with copies of your records, insurance company communication, and notes.

Inform your insurance carrier that you want to submit a claim for personal injury.

Cases involving motor cars may be difficult, particularly when the passenger is entitled to compensation from various sources.

Complex car accident cases need the assistance of a personal injury attorney to get the best possible outcome for an injured passenger.

A skilled attorney will know how to get evidence of guilt, such as the other driver’s cell phone data, which you would have difficulty obtaining on your own.

Additionally, your attorney may be able to locate extra insurance coverage. An adolescent driver with divorced parents, for example, maybe insured by both parents’ car policies, or an adult driver could have a separate umbrella policy in addition to their car insurance.

The majority of car accident attorneys provide free consultations. Sand will work on a case-by-case basis.

Your attorney will not be compensated until your case is settled or you win an award in court.

Don’t give the large insurance firms the final say.

There is no cost or commitment to learn what an attorney can do for you or a loved one.

Free Consultation


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