ADDITIONAL legal services
Crafting Compassionate Legal Solutions and Ensuring Steadfast Advocacy.

Can Passengers File Personal Injury Claims for Car Accidents?

Latest News

An Innocent Party

Car accidents can be overwhelming for anyone involved, especially for those innocent bystanders, such as passengers. Picture it: you are riding to your destination with a trusted driver and suddenly thrust into a violent crash. Regardless of who caused the accident, it can be a scary event. Even with somewhat minor injuries, car accidents can be traumatic.

It’s essential to seek medical attention promptly, even if you feel as if your injuries are minor. By doing so, you have a starting point and a professional analysis of what injuries you may have sustained so you can be fully prepared to pursue damages in the future if need be and address any medical concerns.

You should be rightfully compensated, just as the other parties involved, for the injuries you sustained. Read on to learn more about how Missouri views passengers in car accidents.

What is Comparative Fault and What Does It Mean To You After an Accident?

Missouri follows a pure comparative fault rule. As defined by the Missouri government, a “defendant may plead and prove fault of the plaintiff as an affirmative defense. Any fault chargeable to the plaintiff shall diminish proportionately the amount awarded as compensatory damages but shall not bar full recovery.”

What does this mean for you? Everyone involved in a car accident is assigned a percentage of fault. Should you be awarded compensatory or other damages, the amount you receive is discounted by the percentage of fault you (or the drivers) were assigned. So if you are assigned 40% fault in an accident and the total damages were $100,000, your portion would be $60,000, reduced by 40%.

What this can mean for you is that if both the driver of the car you were riding in and the other party were found to be liable, you could essentially pursue both parties for damages that you sustained as the passenger.

The driver’s insurance company would be responsible for paying for your damages up to the policy limit that they have in place. Missouri law requires all drivers to carry a minimum limit per person to help cover damages. Further damages may be pursued through the other driver’s insurance if it allows.

What Types of Damages Can I Expect To Recover Following an Accident as the Passenger?

Compensatory damages are the most common to pursue following an accident. Compensatory damages typically cover those that are tangible and, therefore, easier to calculate. Examples are medical bills and lost wages. The bills you incur, including treatment, surgery, prescriptions, and those for any future prescribed treatment, such as physical therapy, can be included.

Additionally, any time you missed work to tend to your injuries can be calculated and submitted as compensatory damages. Another aspect to consider is any property damage you may have incurred, such as the loss of your laptop or cell phone, if those items were damaged in the crash.

Non-economic damages may also be pursued in many cases, and these are the less tangible items such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and more. It’s not uncommon for those involved in a car accident to experience depression or anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some experience a loss of enjoyment of life, as they no longer enjoy hobbies they once loved due to the trauma from the event. These items would be considered part of the non-economic damages. This category of damages is more complicated to calculate, but your experienced personal injury attorney can ensure that you aren’t settling for far less than you deserve.

What Are Punitive Damages?

The third and least common category of damages that may be pursued is punitive damages. Punitive damages aren’t going to be relative to each case. They are meant for those incredibly negligent or intentional incidents that cause significant harm. Punitive damages can result in much higher numbers as they are intended to deter similar behavior and punish those required to pay them.

Punitive damages may apply, for example, if one of the drivers involved was intoxicated, excessively speeding, or otherwise incredibly negligent. Punishing this behavior is an option that helps deter others from duplicating it and creating dangerous situations.

Other Ways To Pursue Damages

Passengers may also wish to file a claim with their own insurance company using the underinsured motorist coverage portion of their policy. In most cases, even if their vehicle wasn’t involved in the accident, they can utilize this additional coverage to bridge the gap between the driver’s insurance policy limits.

Check with your insurance policy, as you may have another option that covers medical bills up to a stipulated amount regardless of whether or not you were driving the vehicle. You can typically file this claim against the driver’s policy, as well as the policy of the other driver.

Your Fierce and Tireless Advocates

One of the most frustrating things you can be involved in is an accident that wasn’t your fault. Furthermore, being left to deal with the injuries and financial distress that may have arisen as a result can be enough to overwhelm anyone.

You don’t have to navigate this path alone. You have a team of caring and competent legal advocates who can ensure you get the representation you deserve. We are tireless advocates for our clients and fierce when necessary to ensure they aren’t left with far less than they deserve following an accident.

Contact our office today at (314) 347-3567 to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about what makes us stand out to our clients.

Related Articles