Can Passengers File Personal Injury Claims?
In the bustling streets of the Kansas City metro area, accidents can happen unexpectedly, leaving not only drivers but also passengers dealing with the aftermath. At McShane & Brady, Kansas City’s trusted personal injury law firm, we often receive the following question: Can passengers file personal injury claims in Missouri? Let’s delve into this important topic to provide clarity and guidance.
Accidents can result in a myriad of injuries for passengers, from minor bruises to more severe conditions. The good news is that passengers in Missouri have the right to seek compensation for their injuries in the aftermath of an accident. Here are key points to consider.
Passengers are typically considered innocent parties in accidents. Liability is often attributed to the drivers involved, or a combination of them. As a passenger, you can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or drivers to seek compensation for your injuries. Determining responsibility in an accident can be intricate. It is crucial to engage with a personal injury attorney who can thoroughly review the accident report, assess witness statements, examine the evidence, and navigate the legal intricacies of the situation.
Missouri operates on a fault-based insurance system. This means that the at-fault driver’s insurance is generally responsible for covering the damages, including injuries sustained by passengers. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may be able to turn to your own insurance coverage for compensation. If insurance policy limits do not cover your damages, you may sue the driver(s) for the uncovered amount.
Comparative Fault Rules
More often than not, it is the driver, or drivers, who are found to be at-fault in accidents, but occasionally passengers share the liability. If it is determined that a passenger’s negligence contributed to the accident, this could negate or diminish the passenger’s personal injury claim. Missouri follows a comparative fault system, which means that even if you, as a passenger, played a minor role in the accident, you may still be eligible for compensation, but the amount you receive may be reduced proportionally based on your level of fault.
Exploring Scenarios: When Can Passengers File Personal Injury Claims?
Accidents come in all shapes and sizes. In what situations can passengers file personal injury claims? Whether it’s a collision involving two or more vehicles, a single-car accident, or even incidents where the driver of the vehicle they are in is not at fault, passengers have the right to seek compensation for injuries sustained. In multi-vehicle accidents, passengers can typically file claims against the at-fault driver or drivers. In single-car accidents, the driver’s negligence may still make them liable for passenger injuries. Moreover, even if the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger is traveling is not at fault, filing a claim against the responsible party remains a viable option. Understanding these different scenarios is essential for passengers seeking to assert their rights and recover damages after an unfortunate accident.
Here are some examples of scenarios in which a passenger may be eligible for personal injury compensation:
- Injured passenger files claim against the driver of the car they were in
- Injured passenger files claim against the driver of another car involved in the accident
- Injured passengers files claim against the driver of the car they were riding in and the driver of another vehicle involved in the accident
- Multiple injured passengers file claims against the driver or drivers
- Injured passenger in ride-sharing vehicle, such as Uber or Lyft, files claim against driver’s insurance (for more information about these types of personal injury cases, see our past article “Uber Accidents in Missouri”)
What Damages Can Passengers File Personal Injury Claims For?
In personal injury cases involving injured passengers in Missouri, a range of damages can be claimed to compensate for the physical, emotional, and financial toll of the accident. Medical expenses, including hospital bills, surgeries, medications, and ongoing treatments, are primary components of a personal injury claim. Passengers may also seek compensation for lost wages if their injuries lead to missed work days. Pain and suffering, which encompasses the emotional distress and mental anguish resulting from the accident, can be another significant aspect of the claim. Additionally, property damage, rehabilitation costs, and any future medical expenses related to the injuries may also be considered. The experienced attorneys at McShane & Brady, serving the Kansas City metro area, understand the intricacies of Missouri personal injury law and work diligently to ensure that injured passengers receive fair compensation for the full extent of their damages.
What To Do If You’re a Passenger in an Accident
If you find yourself as a passenger in a vehicle accident, it’s crucial to take certain steps to protect your well-being and potential legal claims.
- Seek Medical Attention – First and foremost, seek immediate medical attention if you suspect any injuries, and follow the advice of emergency personnel or law enforcement at the scene. Refusing medical treatment recommended by them can impact the accident report and possibly be used against you if you file a personal injury claim. If you are not immediately treated for injury, be sure to see your doctor as soon as you can after the crash. Many accident injuries don’t present symptoms until days or weeks later.
- Answer Police Questions – When interacting with law enforcement, be honest and answer questions to the best of your ability. If you’re unsure or can’t recall certain details, it’s perfectly acceptable to communicate that. Avoid declaring you are uninjured, as this information is recorded in the accident report.
- Avoid Discussing the Accident – Refrain from discussing the accident with the driver or insurance claims adjusters until consulting with an attorney. Insurance representatives may contact you early on, aiming to obtain statements that could be used against you in the future. Additionally, insurance adjusters may contact you early on to try and persuade you to accept a settlement that is much lower than what you may be entitled to. For additional information about speaking with insurance adjusters after an accident, see our previous article “Dealing With Insurance Adjusters After a Car Accident in Missouri”.
- Keep Records – Keep meticulous records of all relevant documents, including the police report, medical records, and your own notes about the accident and related conversations. These measures will contribute to safeguarding your rights and building a strong foundation for any potential personal injury claim.
- Consult a Personal Injury Attorney Right Away – An experienced attorney can assess the details of your case, gather essential evidence, and guide you through the complex legal process. They understand the significance of meeting deadlines and can help you navigate potential pitfalls, ultimately maximizing your chances of a successful personal injury claim.
Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney for Your Claim
Selecting an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial for the success of your claim. The attorneys at McShane & Brady boast a wealth of experience in handling personal injury cases. We bring invaluable knowledge and insight into navigating the complexities of the legal system. We understand the nuances of insurance negotiations, can adeptly assess the true value of your case, and are well-equipped to counter legal challenges from opposing parties. Our legal team will ensure that your rights are vigorously defended, providing you with the best chance of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and other damages. When facing the aftermath of a personal injury, the expertise of your legal representative can make a significant difference in securing a favorable outcome.
If you have been injured in an accident in or around Kansas City, don’t hesitate to reach out to McShane & Brady for expert legal assistance. We’re here to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve after enduring the consequences of an unexpected accident. You can contact us by visiting our website, or by calling us at (816) 888-8010. We look forward to speaking with you.