The quick answer is yes, if you are injured in a car accident as a passenger, you can usually get compensation for your injuries rather than having to pay for your medical bills out of your own pocket.
Both Georgia and Alabama law state that it’s possible for a victim of a car accident to be partly responsible for their own injuries. In Georgia, victims’ compensation could be reduced, and in Alabama it can be completely withheld, if victims are found to be even a little bit at fault. However, passengers, unlike drivers, are usually safe from having to prove they were not at fault before they can get compensation, so they are nearly always guaranteed full compensation.
In fact, passengers are typically considered never at fault for their own injuries in a car crash.
Are There Exceptions Where Passengers Can’t Get Compensation?
Yes, there are two main exceptions where a passenger may not be allowed to get compensation for their injuries in a crash.
First, the passenger may be considered at fault for their own injuries if they chose to ride in a vehicle with a driver that they knew was drunk or otherwise likely to crash the vehicle.
Second, in Alabama there’s a law known as the “guest passenger” statute that may forbid passengers from filing claims if they were riding in the car of the driver who caused the crash, even if they didn’t have any reason to believe the driver may cause a crash before getting in the car.
However, there are also SEVERAL exceptions to this rule. For example, passengers can still file a claim against their driver—and get compensation—if the driver of the vehicle they were riding in showed “willful or reckless misconduct” such as speeding or texting while driving.
Compensation is also available for passengers when the driver was paid for the ride. Finally, some states where a case can be brought refuse to recognize the doctrine and will apply their own law to allow for recovery. If you have been riding with an at-fault driver in Alabama, you really should talk to a lawyer before giving a statement to any insurance company to make sure you understand your rights and all of the facts that are important. The insurance adjuster is certainly not going to help.
Our law firm has recovered on countless claims initially denied by Alabama insurance companies by finding and proving exceptions to the guest passenger statute.
Who Pays When You’re Injured in a Car Crash As a Passenger?
Both Georgia and Alabama require drivers to purchase liability insurance to legally drive a vehicle. This insurance can pay medical bills for anyone injured in a crash that the driver causes, including passengers in their own car or in other vehicles. If you were injured in a car crash as passenger, there are three main sources of potential compensation.
- The insurance of your driver, if they were at fault.
- The other driver’s insurance, if they hit the car you were riding in.
- Your own auto insurance (if you own any).
If both drivers are found to be partly at fault, you will actually need to get compensation from both of their insurers. It might also be possible to simply file the claim with your own insurance company, which will pay you then seek reimbursement from the other insurance companies involved.
Don’t Hesitate to File a Claim
Remember, you deserve compensation if you were injured in a crash as a passenger, and more importantly, you probably need it.
If the person who was driving you caused the crash, you may be reluctant to sue them, especially if they are a good friend or a family member, which they often are in accidents like these. But you are not suing them personally or taking money out of their bank account. Your compensation will come from their auto insurance. That’s what it’s there for, so don’t feel guilty about using it.
Neither should you feel guilty about causing their rates to go up, if they do. If they caused the crash and hit another vehicle, the other driver will also be seeking compensation, so your friend or family member’s rates will go up regardless of whether you file a claim or not.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Was a Passenger in a Car Accident?
Yes, we always recommend speaking to a lawyer if you’ve been involved in a car accident, even if you were just a passenger and the insurance company agrees to pay right away without argument. That’s because insurance companies like to make “lowball” offers.
Essentially, you probably don’t know how much money you’ll need to cover your medical bills immediately after a crash. You probably won’t know until after you finish medical treatment. Plus, you also deserve compensation for your pain and suffering, and that amount is hard to calculate without the help of an experienced attorney.
The insurance company is betting on you not knowing how much you are owed so they can offer you as little as they can get away with. And once you accept an offer, that’s it. You can’t get more money later, even if you need it.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you determine what’s a fair amount and what’s not.
We Help Passengers Injured in Auto Wrecks
At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we’ve represented countless victims of auto accidents, and we know better than anyone that it’s not only drivers who end up injured when other drivers are reckless or negligent.
We’ll help you get the full compensation you are owed for what you went through, and if we don’t win your case, you owe us nothing.
Contact us today for a free case review.