Who Do You Sue as an Injured Passenger?
Car accidents do not only affect the drivers; they can also negatively impact the lives of passengers involved in the crash. Unfortunately, passengers virtually have no control over the situation. They are unable to do anything to help avoid a crash, and must rely on the quick thinking of their driver.
If you were a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an accident and have been injured, figuring out who is responsible for compensating you for your injuries can be complicated. Unlike a driver who can only sue the other drivers, a passenger can sue all of the drivers involved in an accident. This means that as a passenger you can not only seek compensation from the other cars involved in the accident, but also from the driver of the vehicle you were in. Unfortunately, it can become uncomfortable when the injured passenger is suing the driver of the vehicle they were in. In most instances, a passenger knows and probably is even friends with the person who was driving. However, it is important to remember that it is not fair for an injured passenger to endure a financial burden when they are not to blame for the accident.
In order to get the personal injury claim started, the injured passenger must forward documents to the insurance carrier of the car they were riding in at the time of the accident. The passenger is able to recover under Massachusetts’ “no fault” statute. Under no-fault, the driver’s insurance of the vehicle the passenger was in would pay for medical expenses and other out of pocket expenses up to a certain amount regardless of who is at fault. Specifically, personal injury protection (PIP) benefits cover the passenger’s medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses arising out of an accident up to $8,000. However, if the passenger has private health insurance and their medical bills exceed $2,000, the excess should be submitted to their health insurance carrier. However, pain and suffering are not a component of the no-fault system.
It is also important to notify the insurance company of the other drivers also involved in the accident. It is not the responsibility of the injured passenger to determine who caused their injuries. In order to step out of the no-fault system, certain thresholds must be met. An injured party may only file a lawsuit seeking damages for personal injury and pain and suffering if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Reasonable and necessary expenses exceeding $2,000 for the treatment of injuries related to the accident;
- A broken or fractured bone;
- Permanent or serious disfigurement;
- Amputation of a limb;
- Loss of sight or hearing; or
If your injuries fall into any of the above categories, you are not limited to the no-fault policy and can hold the at-fault drivers responsible for the accident. Through a third-party car insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, you can pursue compensation for losses that include pain and suffering and other non-economic damages that are not available under no-fault.
It is important to remember though that there are time limits in which you may file your personal injury lawsuit. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for injuries arising out of a car accident is 3 years from the date of the accident.DELSIGNORE LAW CAN HELP YOU THROUGH THE CLAIM PROCESS
It can be difficult to imagine filing a lawsuit against a friend who was driving the vehicle you were in, but it is important to remember that you should not have to be responsible for the financial burden caused by your injuries. The attorneys of DelSignore Law understand the complexities surrounding injured passenger claims, and you can be confident in our ability to pursue fair compensation for you.