• North State Auto Law

Can Passengers File Insurance Claims After a Car Accident in NC?





Can a passenger file an insurance claim seeking damages after an auto accident in NC?


Most people understand that, if you are driving down the road and another driver causes a crash, you can file for damages that they caused. But what if you are just the passenger in a car?


In this article, we will discuss:

  • When a passenger can file an insurance claim for damages after an auto accident,

  • The types of damages a passenger can recover,

  • The effect of contributory negligence on a passenger’s lawsuit, and

  • Who a passenger can file for damages from.


Can a Passenger File for Damages After a Car Accident?


When someone causes you harm because of their negligence, they are liable to you for the damage that they caused – it doesn’t matter if you are driving a vehicle, a passenger in a vehicle, or a pedestrian walking down the highway.


Types of Recoverable Damages for Vehicle Accident Passengers


What Compensation Can a Passenger in a Vehicle Accident Get?


If you were a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an accident, you are entitled to the same types of damages that the driver could recover, including:

  • Property damage (if you owned the vehicle or other personal property that was damaged),

  • Medical expenses and future medical expenses,

  • Lost wages and lost future earning capacity,

  • Pain and suffering,

  • Wrongful death damages,

  • Emotional distress, and

  • Punitive damages when the other driver’s conduct was willful or wanton.

How Does Contributory Negligence Affect a Passenger’s Lawsuit?


In NC, contributory negligence prevents a plaintiff from recovering damages if they were even 1% at fault in the crash (an outdated and ridiculous rule that has been changed in most states).


This would rarely affect the passenger, however, unless the passenger did something to distract the driver and cause the crash like grabbing their steering wheel.


Even in a case where the driver would be prevented from filing suit because of NC’s contributory negligence rule, the passenger may be entitled to recover damages because they were not at fault in the crash.


Who Can the Passenger in a NC Car Accident File for Damages From?


The passenger in an auto accident can file a claim for damages with the insurance company of the person or persons who were responsible for the crash.

Whoever caused the accident through their negligence, whether it was another driver, the driver of the car the passenger was riding in, or a third party who caused the wreck, is responsible for paying the passenger’s damages.


The Passenger in a Car Accident Can File with the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance


If you are the passenger in a vehicle that is involved in a crash caused by the driver of another vehicle, you can file a claim with their insurance for damages.


If multiple drivers were at fault in the crash, the passenger in any of those vehicles can file with the at-fault drivers’ insurance for damages.


But what if your driver was at fault in the accident?


The Passenger in a Car Accident Can File with Their Driver’s Insurance if They Were at Fault


If you are a passenger involved in an accident that was caused by the person driving the vehicle you were riding in, you can file with your driver’s insurance for damages – they are responsible for your injuries just as they are responsible for the injuries of other drivers and passengers of the other drivers’ vehicles.


If you were a passenger in a single-car accident, you can file with the driver’s insurance who caused the crash.


If you were a passenger on a motorcycle, you can file with the driver of the motorcycle’s insurance for damages if they caused the crash.


The driver of the vehicle you are in has a duty of care to follow North Carolina traffic rules and to not endanger you as well as a duty not to endanger other drivers and pedestrians. When they breach that duty, they are negligent. When their negligence is the proximate cause of your injuries, they are liable to you for damages.


The Passenger in a Car Accident Can Make a Claim With Whoever Was at Fault


It doesn’t matter who caused the accident – the passenger in a vehicle can file a claim with anyone’s insurance who was at fault for the crash, whether it was your driver, another driver, or a company or municipality that was responsible for dangerous road conditions.


Whose Insurance Policy Pays?


Your NC car accident lawyer will look for all possible sources of recovery for you, which could include:

  • Your driver’s insurance policy or policies,

  • Another driver’s insurance policy or policies,

  • Your insurance policy or policies, and

  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

UIM coverage is stackable in NC, which means a passenger can collect from multiple policies once liability insurance limits have been maxed out.


Should I Make a Claim on My Friend or Relative’s Insurance if I was a Passenger in Their Vehicle?


Yes.


Most friends and relatives will understand that you must file on their insurance to recover from their insurance policy. It isn’t personal, it’s just how insurance works.


If they were at fault in the auto accident, it will affect their insurance – their insurance company will most likely either raise their insurance premiums or drop them altogether. That’s not your fault, though, and, if others were also injured, it was likely to happen whether you made a claim or not.


Questions About Whether a Passenger Can File for Damages?


If you were a passenger injured in a car accident, your NC car accident lawyer will help you to determine liability, demand full and fair compensation in your settlement, and try your case to a jury if the insurance company refuses to pay.


If you have been in a car wreck that was caused by someone else’s negligence, do not lose hope! Call Northstate Auto Law now at 336-990-0572 or send us a message through our website to talk to an attorney who cares.


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