Passenger in a Car Accident? Do You Know Your Rights?

Riding as a passenger in a car can be quite relaxing, you don’t have to focus on the road and for the most part you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. This can all change the moment you are involved in a car accident. Typically, as a driver if you were to get into a car accident the process is pretty straight forward, you would open a claim with an insurance company and wait to hear who they believe is at fault for the accident. However, as a passenger you may not understand what your next steps should be, as well as the rights you have. In this article we hope to explain what the concept of being a fault free passenger is, as well as the rights you have as a passenger in a car accident.

What is a Fault Free Passenger?

A fault free passenger is a term used in insurance claims to describe anyone who is riding in one of the vehicles that are involved in an accident and has no responsibility for the accident. A fault free passenger is unlike a driver as they typically have no control over the vehicle’s movement. This lack of agency is why insurance companies often label all passengers as fault free, unless very exceptional circumstances apply. 

Characteristics of Fault-Free Passengers

A fault free passenger is typically characterized by the following:

  • Non-Involvement of Vehicle Operation: This means that the passenger did not engage in any behavior that could have influenced the vehicle’s operation. However, a passenger could be deemed at fault if they had a part in the accident by messing with the vehicle’s controls or distracting the driver.
  • Non-contribution to the Accident: This means that the passengers actions have not contributed to the occurrence of the accident in any way. 

The Legal Rights of Fault-Free Passengers

Since a fault free passenger does not bear any responsibility for the accident, they maintain the right to seek compensation for damages for the losses they have suffered. This includes:

  • Medical Expenses: Coverage for all medical treatments needed due to any injuries that were sustained from the accident. 
  • Loss of Wages: Compensation for any lost earnings due to injury related work absences.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident.

A fault free passenger also has the unique right of being able to open a claim against the at fault driver, even if they were in the vehicle that caused the accident. This would mean the passenger would have to open a claim against the driver of their vehicle, but it allows them to seek compensation for their losses without worry of who is at fault for the accident.

Steps Fault Free Passengers Should Take Following an Accident

  • Seek Immediate Medical Attention: After an accident you should always seek medical attention, even if you do not feel injured. It is common to not feel any pain after an accident because of the adrenaline and the endorphins rushing through your body, and this can lead to serious injuries going unnoticed. Getting a medical evaluation soon after an accident can ensure that no injuries go undetected and worsen, and can help create a treatment plan that will help your recovery process.
  • Document the Incident: After the accident it is crucial that you gather any and all evidence from the accident scene. If it is safe to do so, try and take as many photos and videos of the crash site, as well as gather the contact information from everyone at the scene. These pieces of evidence can help support a potential injury claim, and can help bolster the strength of your personal injury case.
  • Consult with a Utah Car Accident Lawyer: Reaching out to a Utah car accident lawyer can be vital in helping your case, these car accident lawyers will be able to offer you guidance, represent your best interests in negotiating with insurance companies, and will help you navigate the complexities of the legal system.

As a fault free passenger you are put into a unique position, as you have a right to compensation regardless of whether you were in the car that caused the accident or not. Armed with this knowledge, it is crucial that you understand your rights and the appropriate steps that you should take following the accident to ensure that your rights to protect are protected. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, make sure that you get the compensation you deserve by contacting our Utah Car Accident Lawyers at LifeLaw Personal Injury. Our team of car accident lawyers will work tirelessly for you to ensure that your rights are protected. Let us fret over every detail so you can focus on what is really important, your recovery. If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident do not hesitate to reach out to our Utah car accident lawyers for a free consultation and to discuss your options further.