Understanding Your Rights to Compensation as a Passenger in an Accident: Personal Injury Lawyers in Greenville, SC Explain
Although most people think of personal injuries to a driver in a motor vehicle accident, passengers typically suffer severe or fatal injuries too. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year in the United States, there are over 2 million injuries and roughly 24,000 fatalities caused by traffic accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that drivers account for approximately 75% of injuries or fatalities. Of all non-driver deaths, the same statistics from the IIHS reveal that front-row passengers account for the most fatalities across all age groups (83%). Fortunately, our personal injury lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina, know that passengers in an accident have rights to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and conscious pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one were injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, especially as a passenger in an accident, call the Hammack Law Firm to learn more about your rights to compensation. We have a proven track record of success pushing back against greedy insurance agents, including geckos. To learn more, call us today to set up a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina. We are here to help you.
For a free legal consultation, call 864-740-8653
Why a Passenger in an Accident Often Has Greater Rights Than a Driver (And Why the Insurance Adjuster Won’t Tell You That)
Under South Carolina law, a passenger in a motor vehicle accident has rights to compensation just like a driver or a pedestrian hit by a car. There are two important points about this, neither of which an insurance adjuster will want you to know.
Injured Passengers Can Recover Nearly Any Compensation That an Injured Driver Could
It is true that a passenger could recover nearly any type of compensation for their injuries that a driver could in a crash. That is because the world of personal injury is pretty consistent across all types of claims – whether that is a car accident, dog bite, or intentional tort (like robbery or assault).
That means passengers may be entitled to many different types of compensation, which include the following:
- Conscious pain and suffering – the agony, pain, and ache caused by the crash
- Medical bills – second agony, pain, and discomfort caused by [outrageous] healthcare costs and bills
- Lost wages – from being unable to work due to the accident, disability, doctor appointments, healing, or dealing with mean defense lawyers
- Loss of consortium – relations with spouse, but also societal and familial relations (i.e., going out to eat or playing ball) with parents, children, siblings, or other dependents
- Property damage – even if it was not your car, you still may be entitled to compensation for your cracked iPhone screen or scuffed shoes
- Punitive damages – if the defendant was extremely negligent and reckless, to the point where it is morally reprehensible (such as putting pineapple on pizza), a victim may be entitled to this type of monetary award
- Other damages – any other damages caused by a motor vehicle accident resulting in injuries to a passenger (except student loans).
Click to contact our personal injury lawyers today
Injured Passengers Often Have a Better Chance at Recovering the “Full Value” of Your Claim
The value of a personal injury claim depends on many factors, including the alleged fault of the victim in a crash. And we’ve all seen it on the news in some big-name accidents that defendants will blame anyone and everyone for an accident. Take the Tracy Morgan crash from a few years ago, when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended the vehicle that the actor and several colleagues were in. Despite there being clear liability, the defendant still claimed that Tracy Morgan was comparatively negligent for not wearing a seatbelt (yikes!).
The principle of comparative fault is one where a victim is partially responsible for the accident and their injuries. A victim’s percentage of comparative fault can reduce the total recovery. Meaning if a jury finds a victim 20% at fault for their injuries, the verdict can be reduced by that percentage. Fortunately, South Carolina’s seatbelt statute sets forth that a violation is only a traffic offense ($25 fine) and that it cannot be used as comparative or contributory fault like in other states (South Carolina Law section 56-5-6540 [C]).
That means passengers injured in an accident often have a more valuable claim than a driver because, except in rare circumstances, a passenger does not contribute to their injuries. Thus, a passenger will not have their recovery reduced by a percentage of fault. Despite this, an insurance adjuster will try to tell you otherwise.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Passenger Claims in a Common Carrier Accident, Including Ridesharing Accidents With Uber, Lyft, or Another Company
Passenger injuries don’t just happen in the vehicle of a family member or friend but also in a “common carrier” accident. That includes not just a taxi or a bus – which are common claims – but also now more commonly with ridesharing companies. Although ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have made it easier and usually safer to get around, they have unfortunately made it harder to recover compensation for passenger injuries.
That is because many ridesharing companies will argue that injured passengers need to go after the driver, not the ridesharing company that employs the driver as an independent contractor. Generally, under the law, an employee can create liability for an employer, but an independent contractor or freelancer cannot. Thus, the ridesharing company tells many injured passengers to “Vamos.” And we think that’s no bueno.
Fortunately, the law has caught up and does impose liability on ridesharing companies. Insurance carriers now cover Uber and Lyft as primary culprits in these types of accidents too. That makes it easier for some passengers with a good personal injury lawyer like us.
Unique Issues with Children and Passenger Injuries
Parents cannot protect their children from all harm. That’s proven. Unfortunately, even the best parents can make mistakes (sorry, mom and dad!). Sometimes that mistake is running a red light, whereas other times, that mistake might be just going out on the road at the wrong time and being hit by a negligent driver. As a result, a child could be injured in a motor vehicle crash – even in the best car seat, with side impact curtains, in a Volvo, with roll bars, blind spot indicators/warnings, and all the other finest Swedish safety protections out there.
Fortunately, South Carolina law allows victims to recover compensation for their losses – including for their children and on their behalf.
However, because defense lawyers and insurance adjusters will blame everyone but their dangerous driver, a defendant will often blame a parent who was driving a car for their child’s injuries in a crash. That is under the comparative fault doctrine noted above. That means that a parent who was driving a car where a child was hurt cannot also bring a lawsuit on that child’s behalf because the defendant will argue that the parent had some comparative fault in causing the injuries.
Sounds confusing? It is. But it is also very important to guard against because it can result in a procedural snafu with your case, including dismissal or issues in collecting a judgment. Don’t let that happen to you. Call an experienced personal injury lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina, like ours instead.
Did You Suffer Injuries as a Passenger in an Accident in South Carolina? We Can Help You
Although passenger injuries often have a strong case of liability, a victim still needs to prove damages and causation. These are often heavily contested by a defendant, who will also try to argue many other tricks to get you to net less money than you deserve.
Don’t let that happen to you or your family. Fight back with our compassionate team of experienced personal injury lawyers in Greenville, SC, at Hammack Law. We can help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve for your passenger injuries or damages after a negligent driver, business, or government entity harms you or a loved one. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today to schedule a FREE case evaluation.