Can You Sue If You Were A Passenger In A Car Accident?
If you are a passenger in a car that is involved in an accident, you may be wondering whether you can sue for damages. In most cases, yes, but the answer to this question is not always straightforward, as it depends on a number of factors.
Pennsylvania is a “Choice No-Fault” State
Firstly, Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” state, meaning that motorists have the option to choose between no-fault insurance or traditional insurance. Therefore, passenger options for compensation will vary depending on the types of auto insurance belonging to the parties involved.
“Limited Tort” Coverage
Suppose the driver of the vehicle you were traveling in has no-fault insurance or “limited tort” coverage. In that case, their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage may pay for your medical expenses, lost income, and out-of-pocket losses up to policy limits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Additionally, if you have your own car insurance policy, that may apply too. However, limited tort coverage will not pay for pain and suffering and non-monetary damages. Additionally, specific thresholds must be met for a passenger to step outside of the no-fault system to sue. A passenger’s injury must qualify as “serious” under state law to file a lawsuit, which typically means you suffered harm more severe than a soft tissue or minor injury.
However, there are some exceptions to the no-fault rule. For example, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver if the accident was caused by their intentional or reckless conduct, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if a commercial vehicle was involved. Additionally, if the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance, you may be able to sue them for damages.
“Full Tort” Coverage
If the driver of your vehicle carries traditional insurance or “full tort” coverage, you may be able to sue or file a claim against both drivers’ insurance companies, regardless of the severity of your injuries. However, if one driver bears no responsibility for the collision, you can only sue or file a claim against the at-fault driver.
What to Do if You Are Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident
If you are injured as a passenger in a car accident in Pennsylvania, there are several steps you should take:
- Seek medical attention: Your first priority should be your health and wellbeing. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not feel injured at the time of the accident. Some injuries, such as whiplash, can have delayed symptoms.
- Gather information: Document the accident as much as possible, including the names and contact information of all parties involved, insurance information, take photos of the accident scene, damage to the vehicles involved, any visible injuries you have,
- Contact an attorney: Consider contacting an experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation for your injuries.
- Notify the insurance companies: This may involve reporting the collision to your insurer, the insurer of the driver of the vehicle you were traveling in, and the third party’s insurer.
A Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney can be critical in ensuring you recover full compensation. They will handle every aspect of your claim, including notifying the appropriate insurance companies, gathering evidence to build a strong case, negotiating fair settlements, and representing you in court if necessary.