Car accidents are, unfortunately, fairly common. When an accident occurs while two people are traveling together in one car, it can be difficult to know what each person’s rights are because the laws vary by state. This article will help you understand what your rights are as a passenger if you have been involved in an accident.
Naturally, the first thing to consider in an accident is seeking medical attention. Sometimes, passengers in a car accident suffer more injuries than the driver. Necessary medical procedures vary, the most common ones include x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and pharmaceutical treatment. Each of these procedures can rack up a large bill. Fortunately, this is one of the things you can claim as a passenger in a car accident from the person whose negligence caused the accident. This is why it’s important to have evidence of all your medical expenses, such as:
- Medical reports detailing all ailments
- Cost of medical treatment
- Proof of prescription drugs taken, including the cost
Some injuries can cause individuals to miss work, which means they lose money. Although the amount of compensation varies based on state law, you are legally owed some kind of reimbursement for any lost wages due to your injuries. This includes sick time; if you get injured and must take a few days off work, this is included in lost wages.
For example, if you miss 10 hours of work due to the accident, you are owed reimbursement for those lost wages. You can request workers’ compensation or file a lawsuit against the negligent party (the driver who caused the crash) to claim the money owed to you.
In order to claim this, you once again need evidence such as a letter from your boss detailing how many days and hours you missed, tax returns and pay stubs that prove how much you normally earn per year.
Pain and Suffering
Of course, another factor that is taken into account when calculating the cost of your injuries is the amount of pain you suffer because of them. This can affect your life in many ways, some more obvious than others. For example, if you are involved in a car accident on your way to the grocery store, the pain you experience may make it difficult to shop for your family. If you can’t shop and cook meals, your family will be impacted emotionally and financially.
The amount of compensation varies based on who you talk to and where you live. However, in most states, individuals who suffer from soft tissue injuries (which covers most injuries resulting from a car accident) can claim anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. This money is not meant to compensate you for your medical bills or lost wages. This money is different and wholly separate. Remember that every case of personal injury and damages is different so it’s important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can explain your options to you and guide you through the legal process of claiming compensation.
This is one of the few things that you will not be entitled to if the accident was your own fault, so make sure to pay attention while driving on the road!
Punitive damages are a legal term given to non-economic damages awarded in addition to economic damages.
For example, if your economic damages for the accident are $5,000 and you’re asking for $15,000 total in the lawsuit (economic and non-economic damages combined), punitive damages may be awarded up to $45,000. This would mean that you could receive up to $60,000 in compensation for your injuries.
Of course, this money is intended to punish the defendant so they are discouraged from doing similar things in the future. Punitive damages are not awarded if it is proven that you were partially at fault for the accident, which means that the court will reduce the total amount of compensation you’re asking for based on your percentage of fault.
It is important to note that punitive damages are not available in every state. They are also difficult to obtain and only awarded in extreme circumstances, such as if the other party was intoxicated, driving recklessly or otherwise negligent when they caused the accident.
As a passenger, you are entitled to certain rights and protections when you’re in an accident. If the driver of the vehicle is responsible for causing the crash, not only can they be held accountable but so can their insurance company. If your injuries were severe enough that you need medical treatment, you will definitely receive compensation for them as well as reimbursement for any wages or other losses you have incurred because of the accident.