The victims of a tragic automobile crash caused by a drunk driver are often passengers who can suffer catastrophic injuries or death. Because they are rarely considered at fault in causing the wreck, passengers usually do not have to argue about their own liability when filing a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. However, this does not mean that settling a claim and obtaining the compensation that an injured passenger deserves will be easy. Passengers need the assistance of an experienced drunk driving attorney to help them navigate the complex issues of which insurance companies to file a claim and negotiate a settlement of their claim with.
What Are a Passenger’s Rights to Compensation for Injuries in a Drunk Driving Accident?
Passengers have a right to be compensated for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the wreck. They often have a number of options when filing a claim for their injuries. If the driver in the other vehicle was drunk and the only negligent driver, the passenger would file a claim with this driver’s insurance company. When the driver of the passenger’s vehicle was the cause of the crash, the claim should be filed with his insurance company. In some cases, both drivers are partially at fault, and a passenger will need to file and negotiate settlements with both insurance companies simultaneously.
In addition, a passenger may be able to file a claim against the driver of the vehicle he was traveling with under his Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage that could pay his medical bills and lost wages. If the driver purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, a passenger may need to file a claim under this coverage if there was no or insufficient insurance to cover his losses. It can be extremely difficult for a passenger to determine all possible sources of insurance coverage and file multiple claims without the guidance of an experienced attorney.
What Are Some of the Complications Passengers Face When Negotiating Settlements for Their Injuries?
While a passenger may not have to contend with arguments about his fault unless he was in the drunk driver’s vehicle, the settlement of his claim could take longer because of other issues. Here are some of the potential problems in these claims:
- If an injured passenger was in the drunk driver’s vehicle, the insurance company could argue that he was partially at fault in causing his injuries by driving with a person that he should have known was drunk. An experienced attorney will have strategies to minimize this defense.
- In some cases, the insurance companies for both drivers will argue that the other driver was partially or completely at fault and responsible for compensating the passenger. The fact that one of the drivers was drunk does not necessarily mean that he was completely at fault in causing the wreck. Until the insurance companies agree on who is liable to compensate the passenger, his claim cannot be settled.
- When there are multiple passengers or a passenger and injured driver who was not negligent, they could all be filing claims for compensation with the negligent driver’s insurance company. There may not be sufficient liability coverage to fully compensate each victim. This can make the settlement negotiations more complicated and lengthy. This is another reason it is so critical to retain an attorney who can identify all possible sources of compensation and can file multiple claims if possible.
Were you or a loved one is injured as a passenger in an accident caused by a drunk driver? The experienced drunk driving attorneys at the Hart Law Firm are here to explain your rights as a passenger, conduct a thorough investigation to determine all potentially liable parties, and to negotiate a settlement so that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.