Motor vehicle drivers are not the only individuals who suffer injuries in a car accident. In fact, in some car accidents, a front seat or backseat passenger can suffer more severe injuries than the vehicle driver. The injuries that a motor vehicle passenger will suffer in an accident depend on the force of the impact and the type of accident.
The damages that accident victims can recover following a collision will typically depend upon the extent of their injuries, the cost of their medical treatment, and whether or not their injuries are permanent.
If you suffered injuries as a passenger in a motor vehicle crash, you need a knowledgeable car accident lawyer by your side as soon as possible. Your lawyer can review all of your legal options with you and help you pursue a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you adequately for your injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court to obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
How Do Car Accidents Happen in the First Place?
Motor vehicle crashes typically happen because of driver negligence and error. When a driver makes a grave mistake while on the road, an accident can occur, and the driver and passengers in the vehicle can sustain debilitating injuries. Some of the most common causes of Alberta motor vehicle collisions include the following:
Intoxicated Motor Vehicle Operation – Drivers must refrain from operating their motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol, in particular, can have a significant impact on a driver’s ability to operate their car or truck safely and carefully. Alcohol slows down a driver’s reaction time and can also cause them to experience physical symptoms, including blurred vision.
As a result of these effects, the driver might not see an approaching vehicle or pedestrian, and they might cause a severe collision. Although a driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater, they may still experience impairment if they have a lower BAC.
Distracted Driving – A driver is distracted when they ignore the road while behind the wheel. Some drivers divert their attention away from the road when they listen to loud music or attempt to text and drive. Small children in the vehicle can distract drivers, and GPS or other electronic devices can divert the driver’s attention away from the roadway. Even when a driver turns their head for only one or two seconds, that can be sufficient time for them to cause an accident. If the driver causes their motor vehicle to collide with the passenger side of a vehicle, passengers in the impacted vehicle can suffer serious injuries.
Violating Motor Vehicle Laws – The main reason for traffic laws is to keep drivers and their passengers safe. When drivers willfully violate these traffic laws, they significantly increase the chances that they will bring about a collision. Some of the most common road-rule violations that lead to passenger injuries include speeding, running red lights and stop signs, tailgating other vehicles, and engaging in aggressive driving maneuvers.
If you suffered injuries as a motor vehicle passenger due to driver error or negligence, your lawyer can explain your legal options. Your lawyer may file a negligence claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, negotiate for fair compensation and, if necessary, litigate your case in court.
Types of Motor Vehicle Crashes That Injure Passengers
Numerous types of Alberta motor vehicle crashes can lead to passenger injuries. One common type of traffic accident—a rear-end collision—occurs when the front of a vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle.
The impact often causes a driver’s or passenger’s body to move in the vehicle and can lead to a whiplash contusion—soft tissue injuries that can lead to significant pain and suffering.
A rear-impact collision can also force a part of the passenger’s body to strike the passenger-side window, door frame, console, or headrest.
Just as in rear-end accidents, a head-on collision can cause severe injuries for a motor vehicle passenger. Head-on accidents happen when the fronts of two motor vehicles collide with one another.
For example, the at-fault driver might not be paying attention to the road. Their vehicle might veer over a centerline or median strip, colliding with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. The vehicle on the receiving end might spin around or even turn over in the middle of the roadway, causing the driver and passengers to sustain serious injuries.
When a head-on motor vehicle accident occurs at a high rate of speed, the driver or passengers can suffer fatal injuries. The deceased individual’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit for damages when that happens.
T-bone or broadside motor vehicle accidents can also cause passengers to suffer serious injuries. A T-bone accident typically occurs at a traffic intersection, where the at-fault driver attempts to run a red light but fails to do so. The driver may then cause their vehicle to collide with a car or truck in the intersecting road. When the front of a vehicle strikes the passenger side of another, the vehicle on the receiving end might spin around and injure the motor vehicle passengers.
Finally, a sideswipe accident happens when two vehicles moving in the same direction collide. These collisions are prevalent on busy highways that have multiple travel lanes. If the at-fault driver causes their vehicle to hit the passenger side of another vehicle, the passenger might strike something in the vehicle and suffer whiplash or other serious injuries.
If you are a passenger who suffered an injury in one of these motor vehicle accidents, a car accident lawyer can help you investigate the accident and determine if you can file a legal claim for damages. If you are, your lawyer can take the necessary actions to maximize the monetary recovery you obtain for your injuries.
Typical Injuries That Car Accident Passengers Suffer
In some instances, the driver of an impacted vehicle suffers more severe injuries than the passengers. However, that is not always the case. In fact, car accident passengers can suffer severe injuries in an Alberta motor vehicle crash. Those injuries may require medical treatment at a hospital emergency room and follow-up care with a primary care physician or family doctor.
In addition, depending upon the seriousness of their injuries, a passenger may need to undergo surgery or other medical procedure, such as if they suffered a fracture or broken bone in the accident.
Likewise, the injured passenger may need to attend physical therapy sessions to get the rehabilitation that they need. All of this medical treatment can be costly, and accident victims may need to miss time away from work to attend medical visits and recover from their injuries.
Common injuries that motor vehicle passengers suffer in car accidents include internal injuries, traumatic hidden brain injuries, soft tissue contusions, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, and death.
If you had suffered any of these injuries when you were a passenger in a motor vehicle, you should first seek emergency medical care as soon as possible. This step is critical because an untreated injury can worsen with time. In addition, you should attend follow-up medical appointments and treat continuously for your injuries. Otherwise, the insurance company may assume that your injuries were not serious.
In addition, you should refrain from discharging yourself from treatment and wait for a healthcare provider to formally release you. By taking all of these actions, you significantly increase the chances of obtaining a favorable settlement compensation—or a favorable jury verdict or binding arbitration award—in your case.
While you finish treating your injuries, your lawyer can begin to gather up the investigative reports, medical bills, and medical records to submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster. Your lawyer can then negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf and, if necessary, litigate your case to a conclusion.
When Can an Injured Car Passenger File a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim?
Motor vehicle passengers who suffer injuries in a car crash that results from negligence can file a personal injury claim. The injured passenger will file their claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer in most instances.
However, if the responsible driver did not have insurance or had insufficient coverage, the injured passenger can file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with their own driver’s insurance company. In many instances, an injured driver and an injured passenger will file their car accident claim simultaneously.
First of all, your lawyer can gather up all of the necessary medical records, medical bills, wage loss paperwork, and other documents, to help you prove the legal elements of your claim.
You can also include a victim impact statement and photographs of the property damage and pictures that depict your injuries. Your lawyer can assemble all of this information into a settlement demand package and will forward it to the insurance company for you. The adjuster handling your claim will then review all of the documents, and they may make an offer to settle your case.
In most instances, initial offers that insurance company adjusters make are routinely low and are much less than the actual value of your claim. Therefore, your lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster and try to convince them to increase the offer.
If that does not happen, your lawyer can litigate the case in the court system. When your lawyer files a lawsuit against the at-fault party, the litigation process begins. However, the parties can continue their settlement negotiations even during a pending lawsuit.
During litigation, the parties will exchange answers to written questions, called interrogatories. The defense attorney in the case may also take the accident victim driver and passenger’s depositions to find out more about their versions of the case. If the case does not settle during litigation, the parties can take the matter to a civil jury trial.
During a jury trial, the jury will decide all disputed issues. The parties may consider various alternative dispute resolution proceedings as an alternative to a jury trial, such as mediation or binding arbitration.
Your lawyer can help you decide if you should accept a settlement offer or take it to trial or alternative dispute resolution.
Types and Amounts of Compensation That Car Accident Passengers May Pursue
Injured car accident passengers can recover monetary compensation for their injuries. What you will recover in a car accident case depends on
the type of injury you suffered, the extent of your injuries and whether or not they were permanent, and the extent of your pain and suffering.
After making the initial demand, your lawyer can negotiate a favorable settlement offer on your behalf. Your lawyer can also let you know whether you should accept a pending settlement offer or file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court.
You want any damage award to fully compensate you for your accident-related injuries and everything else you went through following your car accident.
Some of the most common damages that injured passengers can recover in a car accident lawsuit include compensation for lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, inconvenience, suffering, pain, mental distress, loss of the ability to use a body part, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of spousal companionship and consortium. Your lawyer will do everything to maximize the compensation you recover for your injuries.
Talk to a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer Today
Motor vehicle passengers, like their drivers, can suffer severe injuries in an accident. Suppose you have sustained injuries in a car crash. An experienced car accident lawyer can explain your legal options and maximize the monetary compensation you receive.