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What to Do as an Injured Passenger

James P. Leahy Attorney At Law May 8, 2023

When most people think about car accidents, their first reaction is to think about drivers. However, we generally overlook the injuries and deaths that occur among passengers. According to data from Forbes, 5,966 passengers lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2020. This figure underscores just how often passengers are also unfortunate victims of accidents. 

At my firm, James P. Leahy Attorney At Law, my mission is to help car accident victims in Elgin, Illinois, get the legal representation they deserve. I strive to put my years of legal experience at the service of communities throughout Aurora, St. Charles, and Kane County, as victims seek fair compensation to recover their health and well-being. You can count on my personal attention as we fight for your rights. 

Fault Determination in Illinois 

Illinois is known as an at-fault insurance state. This means that victims can seek compensation to recover expenses for car accident injuries as a passenger, such as medical bills. Under Illinois law, the fault for a car accident is typically determined by examining the actions of all involved. If a passenger is injured in an accident, they may have a claim against the driver of the car they were riding in, as well as any other drivers who were at fault for the accident. 

Illinois law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance to cover damages they cause to others in an accident. This insurance may cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages suffered by passengers in the accident. In addition, passengers may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver(s) responsible for the accident to seek additional compensation. 

Filing a Claim in Illinois 

In Illinois, car accident passengers may have several options for filing a claim after an accident, depending on the circumstances of the crash and the extent of their injuries. The following options are useful for paying for medical bills resulting from the car accident, among other types of compensation: 

  • Filing a claim against the opposing driver. If the driver of another vehicle caused the accident, the passenger might be able to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company. This situation is often the case when the other driver is clearly at fault and their insurance policy provides coverage for the passenger’s injuries. 

  • Filing a claim against the driver of the car they were riding in. If the driver of the car the passenger was riding in caused the accident, the passenger may be able to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company. This case can be a more complicated situation, as the passenger may be hesitant to file a claim against their friend or family member who was driving. However, it’s important to remember that the driver’s insurance policy is designed to cover injuries sustained by passengers in their car. 

  • Filing a claim with their own insurance. If the passenger has their own car insurance policy, they may be able to file a claim under their policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage is designed to protect drivers and passengers involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. It may also provide coverage if the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is insufficient to cover the passenger’s injuries. 

Injured car passengers are encouraged to speak with an experienced personal injury and car accident attorney to determine their rights and options before accepting an offer from an insurance company. Insurers generally attempt to lowball accident victims. An experienced attorney can help victims get the compensation they deserve. 

Passenger Liability in Illinois 

In Illinois, the percentage of fault of each party involved in a car accident can affect the damages awarded. If a passenger is found to be partially responsible for the accident, their damages may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. 

Here are some examples of situations where a passenger may be found partially responsible for a car accident: 

  • Distracting the driver. If a passenger distracts the driver, such as by engaging in conversation, playing loud music, or using a cell phone, and the distraction leads to an accident, the passenger may be found partially at fault. 

  • Not wearing a seatbelt. Illinois has a mandatory seatbelt law, which means that all motor vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt. If a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt and is injured in an accident, their damages may be reduced if it is determined that their injuries would have been less severe if they had been wearing a seatbelt. 

  • Encouraging reckless driving. If a passenger encourages the driver to engage in reckless behavior, such as speeding or running a red light, and an accident occurs, the passenger may be found partially at fault.   

A skilled personal injury attorney can help passengers understand their legal rights and liability following an accident. 

Protect Your Rights as a Passenger 

Call James P. Leahy Attorney At Law today to speak with an attorney that will have your back the whole way. You deserve to get the attention your need when seeking fair compensation throughout the claims process as a passenger. I’m here to help you through this difficult time. Don’t go at it alone.