Usually, when we see a discussion about rights and responsibilities after a motor vehicle accident, the focus is on the drivers that are involved. But what if you are a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in a crash? Do you have responsibilities? What about your rights as a passenger? What do you need to consider if you have been in an accident as a passenger in a vehicle?
Who Is Responsible For Paying For Your Injuries As A Passenger?
Typically, it is the at-fault driver that will be responsible for paying for your injuries when you are a passenger in a motor vehicle that is involved in an accident. There are some exceptions, of course, and they are outlined below. If the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance, your uninsured motorist insurance coverage will cover your injuries.
It may not always be apparent who the at-fault driver is, and sometimes this is hotly debated between lawyers and insurance companies.
The difficulty may arise when the insurance company disputes your accident claim. They may even find you partially or fully negligent in the crash.
Are There Situations In Which You Cannot File A Claim For Damages?
If the at-fault driver is the driver of the vehicle that you were a passenger in, you may be limited in the amount of the claim you file. Indiana Code 34-30-11, which is also called the “Guest Statute,” dictates that you cannot file a claim against a sibling, parent, child, spouse, or any person that picked you up (such as a hitchhiker) and gave you a ride without receiving payment.
There is an exception to this statute which occurs if the driver is found guilty of “wanton or willful misconduct” while operating the motor vehicle.
What Happens If You Can’t File A Claim?
If you are unable to file a claim, either because of the Guest Statute or because you have been charged with contributing negligence to the accident, your uninsured motorist coverage or your medical healthcare coverage will provide payment for treatment.
What If It Is Determined That You Contributed To The Accident?
In the state of Indiana, when you file a claim as a passenger, your behavior will be examined. Were you wearing your seatbelt? Were you distracting the driver? Did you know that you were entering the car and accepting a ride under unsafe conditions? Was the driver of the vehicle impaired? Did you seek immediate treatment after the accident? If not, insurance companies may be suspicious of your injury claims.
Indiana is a comparative fault state, so it may not be an open and shut case as to who is at fault. Any award you receive for injuries sustained may be reduced if you are found to be partially responsible for the accident.
What Does A Policy Of Comparative Negligence Mean To You As A Passenger In An Accident?
When a determination is made between the auto crash lawyers and insurance companies involved in settling a case, each of the parties is assigned a percentage to which they are to blame for the accident. Although it is unusual for a passenger to be assigned fault for a crash, please know that it does and can happen.
Some examples of this would be if you were distracting the driver, causing the driver physical harm, jerking the wheel and taking control from the driver, or causing them to be distracted with a mobile device.
Usually, as an example, if you are found to be twenty percent negligent, your claim amount may be reduced by twenty percent. If the driver of the car you were in is found to be partially at fault, and that person is a close relative, your ability to file a claim may be reduced due to the guest statute. As always, it is best to speak with a Greenwood traffic collision law firm to learn your best options.
What Are The Basic Rights You Have As A Passenger Involved In A Motor Vehicle Accident In The State Of Indiana?
Although it is clear that you have some safety responsibilities as a passenger in a motor vehicle, here are some rights you are entitled to as a passenger. They are as follows:
- The right to be compensated fairly for damages
- The right to consult with an attorney to explore your legal options after the crash
- The right to capture photos at the scene of the accident and to collect names of the witnesses who are present
- The right to seek medical care and treatment for injuries sustained in the accident
- The right to collect accurate information on all drivers and their insurance companies after the crash
- The right to assume that other drivers will use caution to avoid accidents
What Is Your Best Course Of Action?
As you can see from our discussion here, in the state of Indiana, it is not always a clear-cut case of who is responsible after you have been injured in a car crash. It’s possible for more than one driver to be at fault, and it is possible that you might be charged as a passenger with contributing to the accident.
You will no doubt receive lots of advice and opinions from friends, relatives, and co-workers after the motor vehicle accident. The most important thing you can do if you have been involved in an accident as a passenger is to meet with a car crash attorney that has a great deal of experience with motor vehicle accidents.
You can call today and schedule an appointment with the Greenwood car accident lawyers of Henn, Haworth, Cummings, & Page. There is no charge for your initial consultation, and we are here to help guide you through the process. Being involved in an accident is always a hassle. When you’re not sure how to proceed or what your options are, you need the kind of help and advice that the auto accident attorneys of Henn, Haworth, Cummings, & Page are known for. Call us today to learn more.