Car Accident Compensation as a Passenger
It is not always easy to claim compensation for passengers in car accidents, even though the injured victim is often in a strong legal standpoint to do so. Injuries sustained by passengers in car accidents can often be worse than the driver’s injuries, as the driver will generally be more aware of the traffic conditions and may have had a couple of seconds to prepare for impact.
This article outlines why making a claim for an injured passenger in a car accident and ensuring a fair and satisfactory settlement of compensation for passengers in car accidents can be difficult but achievable. If you have sustained an injury as a passenger in a car accident, you are advised to discuss the circumstances of the accident – and how it has affected you personally – with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
Injured Passengers in Car Accidents: Examples
A rear-end accident which results in a front seat passenger suffering from severe whiplash is the most common example of a car accident involving injured passengers. Front seat passengers have a higher likelihood of sustaining more serious symptoms of whiplash than the driver, who – as previously mentioned – typically has more time to prepare for impact. In addition, front seat passengers in Ireland tend to be females and who generally have weaker neck muscles than males, who do most of the driving.
That said, not all accidents concerning passengers involve a collision with another driver who is solely at fault. It is possible to claim compensation for passengers in car accidents in a number of other situations, including:
- An accident that is caused by the driver of the car in which the passenger was travelling, involving another car or not.
- An accident that occurs due to an unsafe and poorly maintained road.
- An accident involving a taxi the passenger was travelling in, in which the negligent party was the taxi driver or another road user.
It is understandable that some passengers who have been injured in a car accident caused by a friend or family member, who was either partly or completely responsible for the accident, may not be comfortable with pursuing a claim for car passenger accident compensation. It is worth noting, however, that while the driver involved may have their no claims bonus retracted should a claim be made to their insurance company, they will not be personally responsible for the amount awarded should your claim prove successful. The cost will fall on their insurance company.
Steps to Follow as an Injured Passenger in a Car Accident
The cause of the accident and the severity of the injuries sustained by both the passenger and the driver will affect the procedures you should take following the accident. You may already have completed some of the steps mentioned here but it is always worth double-checking, just in case the shock of the accident or the severity of your injuries prevented you from carrying out every one of them at the time or as soon as possible afterwards.
Step 1: Prioritise your Health and Safety
The first procedure you should have followed after sustaining an injury in an accident is to receive medical attention. Immediately after an accident occurs, if anyone on the scene appears to be severely hurt, an ambulance and the Gardai should have been called. Even if the Gardai did not come to the scene, the phone call made to them will still be kept on record, and your solicitor will be able to use it as evidence in your claim for car passenger accident compensation.
Any injuries suffered should have been seen to at the earliest possible moment – serious or less so – as any unwarranted gap between the date of the accident and the date when your injuries were recorded in your medical history may see your compensation claim for injured passengers in car accidents called into question by the negligent party’s legal representatives. For this reason, it is important to attend the nearest Accident and Emergency department or see your GP as soon as possible after any accident, for any injury sustained.
Step 2: Complete these Formalities following the Accident
Most drivers know that post-accident, names, addresses and insurance details should be exchanged by all parties involved. If you are unable to gather this information yourself following an accident, make sure that you get copies from the driver of the vehicle you were travelling in.
The Gardai will be able to use roadside cameras and CCTV technology to find out who the negligent party was if some of the information collected initially goes missing or is incorrect, or if the driver who was at fault subsequently drove away from the scene without stopping. Should the negligent driver remain unidentified, or if he or she is uninsured, compensation for passengers in car accidents can be claimed against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
Step 3: Report any Injured Passengers in Car Accidents
Every Garda station keeps a road traffic accident report book so, if they do not call to the scene of the accident, you should make a report to the Gardai to support a car passenger accident claim for compensation.
Included in the report should be the names, insurance details and registration numbers of all parties involved, along with the date, time and location of the accident. Be sure to keep a copy of the report as your solicitor may need it as part of his or her case notes. Ensure that you receive a copy of the Gardai report made by the driver of the car in which you were the passenger, should he or she make one before you.
The Process of Claiming for Car Passenger Accident Compensation
To make a car passenger accident claim for compensation you should first make an application for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland, although your solicitor will attempt to negotiate a quick and acceptable settlement with the negligent party’s insurers before the Injuries Board have evaluated your claim.
Applying to the Injuries Board for assessment is necessary not matter how well negotiations appear to be going, as liability for your injuries may be rejected by the negligent driver or the negotiation of a suitable settlement may fall through. If either of these situations arises, an “Authorisation” from the Injuries Board will be required in order to initiate court proceedings. By applying for the Injuries Board assessment at the same time as negotiations are ongoing, you will not have to endure a long wait before initiating court action should an acceptable settlement not be forthcoming.
The Value of Compensation for Passengers in Car Accidents
At the beginning of this article we mentioned that the injuries sustained by passengers in car accidents are frequently more severe than those of the driver as they do not have as much extra time to prepare themselves for the impact of the other vehicle. This does not mean, however, that a car accident passenger who suffered serious injuries in an accident is automatically going to receive a higher amount of compensation, as each individual claim for injuries suffered by a passenger in a car accident is evaluated by factors unique to itself.
Along with claiming compensation for any physical injury, it is also possible to claim for “loss of amenity” – that is the affect that your injuries have on your quality of life. It is worth noting that psychological as well as physical injuries can contribute to determining the value of compensation for passengers in car accidents and, to pursue this route, you should take note of every time you are unable to take part in a social or leisure event that you would have normally enjoyed prior to the accident. Your solicitor can then make an educated assumption as to the estimated value of compensation for loss of amenity.
Any loss of earnings, overtime and pension contributions, and financial expenses you have acquired that are derived from your accident, can also be reimbursed in a claim for car passenger accident compensation. This explains why you may receive a very different compensation award from the driver of the car – even if you sustain the same injuries – as considerations are made to factor in your profession and how your injury has come to affect your day to day life.
Claims for Injured Passengers in Car Accidents and Insurance Companies
There is a possibility that you may be approached by the negligent party’s insurance company (or the insurance company representing the MIBI) soon after an accident has occurred with an offer of an early settlement for your car passenger accident claim for compensation – even if you have not yet started legal proceedings .
You should be aware however that, more often than not, the amount of compensation these companies offer will most likely prove to be unsatisfactory in the long run; as the insurers have their own company’s best interests at heart, not yours. Should you accept this offer without the assistance of an experienced solicitor to guide you, and the result is inadequate, it is not possible to return to the insurance company and ask for more.
These direct approaches are often made when the injured party is at their most vulnerable, and the short-term monetary benefits may be tempting if you are in a difficult financial situation. For this reason alone it is recommended that you discuss your situation with a legal professional.
The benefit of such an approach is that the insurance company’s policy holder has effectively accepted liability for your injuries and your solicitor can petition for provisional payments of compensation until your passenger compensation claim for a car accident is acceptably completed.
Legal Advice for Passengers in Car Accidents
If you have been injured as a passenger in a car accident for which a negligent driver or a faulty road surface was to blame, it is highly recommended that you seek professional legal advice, as claims for car passenger accident compensation have the potential to be settled unsatisfactorily. As discussed above, having a strong legal standpoint does not guarantee adequate results for your car passenger accident claim for compensation and you should always discuss your own personal situation with a solicitor.
Car Passenger Accident Compensation: A Summary
- Passengers who have been injured in car accidents are eligible to claim compensation in numerous situations.
- The insurance companies who represent the negligent driver, council or MIBI will be responsible for paying compensation to the plaintiff.
- Ensuring adequate medical attention should take priority over claiming for compensation for passengers in car accidents.
- Names, addresses and insurance details of all the parties involved in a car accident should be gathered, if possible.
- The injured passenger in a car accident will receive compensation representative of his or her individual situation.
- Accepting an early settlement from the negligent party’s insurers may result in a less than satisfactory amount of compensation and so it is in your best interest to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
No two claims for car passenger accident compensation are ever identical. If you have been involved in an accident in which you were a passenger who suffered injuries, and think that you may have a potential car passenger accident claim for compensation, it is recommended that you discuss the issues raised in this article with a solicitor at the first possible moment.