When you become involved in a car accident as a passenger, the courts generally regard you as a victim of the incident. The first assumption is you’re not directly involved in the accident and are therefore entitled to receive insurance benefits from the people responsible if you sustained any injury.
California is a tort state. This means that for car accidents in Los Angeles, the driver who is at fault in an accident is liable for the damages and injuries that resulted from the incident. As the passenger, you can file for personal injury claims against the person responsible for the accident, whether that is your companion behind the wheel or the driver of the other vehicle.
Regardless of who you were riding with, you may file a personal injury claim from the responsible party and get reimbursed if you paid out-of-pocket for emergency treatment. Depending on the nature of your injury, the court may also grant you compensation for lost wages and long-term treatment.
Ideally, you would have done the following immediately after the accident:
Called 911 and asked for medical assistance.
Called a personal injury attorney.
Collected the following information about the driver or drivers involved in the accident:
- NAP (full name, address, and phone number)
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Description of the other vehicle (brand, model, color)
- Insurance company and policy number
- Photos and videos of the cars after collision (for documentation)
Note: You are not required to provide your personal information to any other party because you’re just a passenger.
- Called your insurance company.
The last entry in this checklist is necessary because the claims process takes time to complete. It would be foolish to wait for your claims to push through before seeking proper treatment for your injuries.
If your policy covers car accidents, your insurance company can cover your medical expenses in the meantime. The payout you receive from your personal injury claim can go towards reimbursing your insurance provider afterward.
At Fault Passenger
With California being a tort state that observes a pure comparative negligence system, the court can also explore the possibility of a passenger being partly or entirely at fault in an accident. A passenger’s insurance claims may be denied or adjusted to a lower amount if there is sufficient and credible evidence proving his or her liability.
When determining liability, the court and insurance providers will assess whose negligence caused the accident. A passenger can become liable, too, if:
- He/she did something that broke the driver’s focus (e.g., an argument led to the passenger getting physical with the driver)
- He/she distracted the driver
- He/she consented to the driver getting behind the wheel despite being intoxicated.
- He/she encouraged the driver to disobey traffic rules (e.g., egged the driver to exceed the speeding limit and disregard road signs like Stop, One-Way, and No Entry)
If your claims are challenged by allegations of partial liability, you must consult with a personal injury lawyer right away. California law allows individuals who are 90% responsible for an accident to still file a claim for 10% of the damages against the other party. A lawyer will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Haffner Law’s personal injury attorneys can help you whether you’re a passenger without fault or with fault. Call us if you get into a car accident in L.A. You can reach us at 1-844-HAFFNER or 213-514-5681.
(This is an attorney advertisement by Joshua Haffner)