CHICAGO, IL – When you are a passenger and have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you have legal rights that entitle you to file a lawsuit for your injuries. In some circumstances, you have even more rights than the driver for financial compensation because you can sue more defendants.
As with any personal injury claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove two things: liability and damage. Liability, meaning that it was someone else’s fault, and damages referring to how badly the person who made the claim was hurt.
Many car accident victims will file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at-fault for the collision. In more fatal cases, surviving family members would pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Filing a Claim with the Driver’s Insurance
Passengers of a motor vehicle accident have the right to sue the driver that negligently caused the crash. If you’re injured in an accident, please make sure to call the police first. If you’re able to, document anything you can regarding the crash including obtaining witnesses information, pictures, and video.
Your first step is to file a claim with the driver who caused the crash’s insurance policy. The easiest way to about this is through their personal injury protection or medical payments portion of their car insurance policy. Many states are “no-fault” insurance states, meaning these states require every driver carry this type of protection for any passenger in their vehicle.
Illinois is an “at-fault,” or tort, state. This means that upon showing the other party’s negligence that caused the accident, and you suffered an injury as a result, you can recover money for: lost wages, pain and suffering, medical costs, emotional distress, and other damages.
The driver of the car in which you were riding owes you a “duty of care,” meaning if they act unreasonably, you can hold them responsible for your injuries. The failure to fulfill this duty is negligent, which means speeding, reckless driving, illegal turns, etc., are all grounds for failure to provide you their duty of care.
Suing the At-Fault Driver – No Matter Who It Is
A spouse can sue the other and children can sue their parents for any injuries they sustained as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident. This may seem unusual to you; however, it is quite common.
Many people feel uncomfortable or worry about their relationship or friendship with the person who caused the accident by holding them responsible. Passengers can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver but should especially do so if fault cannot be established for the accident. The drivers typically don’t pay the damages as long as they are under the policy minimum, but rather the drivers insurance company because that is who you’re suing.
Illinois “Mandatory Insurance” Laws
Illinois requires all vehicle owners to carry liability insurance. The minimum coverage Illinois drivers are required to carry is:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident caused by you
- $50,000 total for all injuries or deaths in an accident caused by you, and
- $20,000 for damage to the property of another person in an accident caused by you.
Basic liability coverage pays for medical bills, property damage, and other costs to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians that are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident.
Recovering Fault Benefits
If you are involved in an accident and do not file a lawsuit, you are essentially giving the auto insurance company a free pass and leaving money on the table that could pay for any medical expenses you endure after the accident or lost wages. This is coverage the driver of the accident has already paid for, so passengers in motor vehicle crashes should utilize this regardless of who may be the negligent driver.
Whoever the driver of the vehicle is that caused the crash, whether it’s the person you are driving in the car as a passenger of or another vehicle, that is who you file your claim against or sue.
Maximizing Compensation as a Passenger of a Motor Vehicle Crash
The passenger may already be covered under the driver’s policy if they are related to them and be considered an “insured person.” It’s critical for the injured passenger to find someone whom they can file a claim against because suing your own insurance policy will not provide you with as much compensation. While you can sue your own insurance policy, you will not seek compensation for pain and suffering or lost wages and be limited to medical costs.
A passenger may not be able to look past their relationship with the driver, if known; however, it’s important that you look at the accident for how it affects your interests since you will miss time from work and have hefty medical bills now to endure. Seeking compensation for your injuries due to another’s negligence should be maximized rather than you paying for an accident you were never at-fault for.
Contact a Cook County Personal Injury Lawyer in Chicago, Illinois
Navigating the aftermath of an accident can be complicated and frustrating. The Dinizulu Law Group attorneys are skilled and experienced with personal injury cases and insurance coverage to ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve. Call our office today at (312) 384-1920 for your free consultation or visit our website for more information.