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Can I Recover Compensation If I Was a Passenger in a Car Accident?

October 3, 2023

In comparative negligence insurance states like Washington, we hear a lot about who is at fault for injuries in an accident and the importance of determining which driver is liable for damages. But what about the passengers in a car during an accident? Passengers are never at fault for a car accident so how do they fit into a personal injury claim with the state’s at-fault insurance laws?

Injured passengers have the right to file claims for damages against the at-fault party in a car accident regardless of who was at fault, whether it was the driver of the car they were in during the accident, another driver, or a third-party entity like the manufacturer of a defective auto part, or a city road maintenance agency.

Can I Recover Compensation If I Was a Passenger in a Car Accident?

Proving Liability for Injured Passenger Car Accident Claims

Washington’s pure comparative negligence insurance laws allow victims to claim damages in a car accident even if they were partly at fault. When an injury victim shares fault, their payout for damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. However, a passenger in an accident is never at fault.

When someone is injured as a passenger in a car accident they can gain full compensation for their damages as long as their Seattle auto accident attorney carefully documents evidence of liability. Proving liability in a car accident case requires demonstrating the following:

  • The party at fault in the car accident owed a duty of care to others on the road to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries
  • They breached this duty of care by acting negligently, recklessly, or with intentional wrongdoing (like intoxicated driving or road rage)
  • The breach of duty directly caused injury
  • The injury victim suffered significant damages from the injury

A passenger injured in a car accident can experience serious economic and non-economic damages. Injuries quickly become costly, with expensive medical treatments at the same time that the injury victim may not be able to return to work while they’re recovering from injuries. In many circumstances, passengers in car accidents are children who may suffer serious injuries and potentially life-altering consequences.

Required Auto Insurance Protection in Washington

At-fault drivers bear financial liability for car accident property damage and personal injuries. Washington requires drivers to carry at least the minimum in personal injury coverage including:

  • $10,000 property damage
  • $25,000 in personal injury protection per person in an accident or $50,000 maximum per accident for all injury victims

Some drivers carry additional insurance coverage to avoid personal liability.

What Damages Can a Passenger Recover After a Car Accident?

When a passenger is injured in a car accident, a successful injury claim can secure compensation for damages including the following:

  • Reimbursement for medical expenses and future medical expenses related to the injuries suffered in the car accident
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity due to accident-related disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of pleasure in life
  • Trauma, PTSD, anxiety, or depression

Passengers are innocent victims in car accidents and can experience serious injuries and emotional damages due to accident trauma. A successful injury claim can help open doors to the best medical care to maximize recovery. It can also ease the financial burdens while the injury victim focuses on healing.

Damages in personal injury claims after an accident typically come through a direct insurance claim. Only in cases of an insurance company’s denial of a valid claim does the case proceed to a lawsuit in court when filed within Washinton’s 3-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

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