Passengers in automobiles have legal rights, and in some cases they have greater rights to compensation than drivers. When negligent or careless driving leads to a collision and resulting injuries, innocent guest passengers can collect money damages for medical bills, lost income and for their pain and suffering. Since passengers are not behind the wheel, they rarely face the defense of contributory negligence which bars the claims of a partially-at-fault driver. The only exception is a passenger who either distracts the driver or grabs the wheel, or a passenger who places herself in danger by accepting a ride with an impaired driver. At Nagle & Associates, our exclusive focus is on helping victims of motor vehicle accidents, and we have successfully recovered hundreds of millions on behalf of individuals and families throughout North Carolina. Raleigh car accident lawyer Carl Nagle worked as an insurance claims adjuster and an insurance company lawyer before dedicating himself to advocating for the rights of injury victims. His experience working as an insurance adjuster and as an insurance company lawyer provides valuable insights for formulating a strategy designed to secure the highest possible amount of compensation in every case. By proving all of the losses that relate to the accident, including medical bills, property damage, and loss of income and future earning capacity, victims can feel secure in their financial position. We have advocated on behalf of injured people in cities such as Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Wilmington.Passengers Often Have More Insurance Coverage to Fund Injury Claims
In most cases, a driver is in his/her own car and they are utilizing their own coverage. Passengers, on the other hand, are often riding with a friend or family member and they may have their own outside car insurance policies. Under North Carolina law, a passenger can present claims against all drivers who share blame for the accident. Thus, if two drivers together contribute to cause an accident, the passenger can collect from both drivers’ policies. Further, once the liability insurance coverage is exhausted in a larger case where policy limits are fully offered by the insurers, the guest passenger can also look to their own car insurance policy and every other family-owned car insurance policy in their household to collect additional money through their Underinsured Motorist coverage. UIM coverage is stackable in NC, and thus passengers are often able to collect from multiple policies after they collect from all available liability insurance limits.Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim As a Passenger Involved in a Collision
In a car accident lawsuit, a plaintiff must typically show liability and damages. In most car accidents, at least one driver is liable. In a personal injury claim following a multi-car accident, a passenger may make a claim against more than one driver. The insurance companies for any drivers sued would likely become involved in the claim.
All drivers must operate their vehicles safely, trying to prevent collisions with other vehicles and also preventing injuries to passengers. This duty of care must be exercised at all times. When a driver fails to exercise this level of care, and it results in a passenger’s injury or death, that passenger or their family has a right to seek payment from the driver.
After a passenger proves the liability of one or more drivers, an injury claim then turns away from the analysis of blame and liability and turns to the calculation and payment of money damages. “Damages” is a legal term which refers to both the economic costs that resulted from the accident as well as more subjective types of harm, such as emotional pain and suffering. Passenger victims may suffer severe physical and psychological injuries, and they may no longer be able to participate in certain activities that were central to their lives. Losses such as these generally may be compensated.
Negotiations with insurance companies following a vehicle collision may lead to a settlement. In some situations, however, it may be challenging to settle passenger injury cases because drivers may challenge a finding of liability. Additionally, when there are multiple passengers, it may be difficult for all of the occupants of the car to receive full compensation, especially if the total value of their injury claims exceeds the liable driver’s insurance. After a multi-car collision, to be fairly compensated for their injuries, some passengers seek compensation from all drivers’ insurance companies.
In some situations, the doctrine of contributory negligence may bar the right to compensation for passengers injured in motor vehicle collisions. Insurance companies representing defendant drivers may assert this defense. In a passenger injury lawsuit, contributory negligence may apply if the plaintiff passenger was made aware of negligent behavior or assumed the risk that they may get into an accident. For example, if a passenger should have been aware that their driver was intoxicated, and they were eventually hurt in an accident because the driver was drunk, they may have no payment rights. In cases involving disputed fault, victims should consult a personal injury attorney to explore their options and craft a strategy to argue against the application of contributory negligence.Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim Should Not Harm Valuable Relationships
Passengers often chose to forfeit their claims when they are riding with a friend or family member who causes an accident. This is truly unnecessary, and is a favor only for the insurance company. Following any accident, insurance carriers privately assess fault and they always raise the driver’s premiums if they can identify a driving error. Citations and convictions of traffic violations are not necessary to raise premiums. Thus, following an accident, the at-fault driver will face a rate increase. The good news is that passenger claims do not further affect premiums. Thus, a passenger who pushes hard to collect the highest possible personal injury settlement would not be causing any increase in the driver’s insurance premiums. Similarly, a passenger who forfeits their rights and collects nothing for valid claims will not benefit the driver because the insurance carrier will not reduce premiums simply because the passenger walks away from their payment rights.Retain a Raleigh Lawyer for a Car Accident Case
The experienced team at Nagle & Associates can investigate and advocate on behalf of victim passengers of motor vehicle collisions. Raleigh car accident attorney Carl Nagle is ready to begin working to pursue all of the compensation that you may be legally entitled to recover. Hiring our firm is a simple process, with no up front costs or fees due until we collect money for you. We can even come and meet with you at your home or workplace if this helps to get your case started. Our compassionate and client-focused practice offers a distinctive fee arrangement. We charge 25% of any settlement that you accept, as opposed to the 33.33% that many other firms charge. We have offices throughout the state and have represented injured people in Raleigh, Wilmington, Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Hickory, Charlotte, and other communities throughout Wake, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Durham, Guilford, New Hanover, Cumberland, and Catawba Counties. Contact us at (800) 411-1583 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation with a motor vehicle collision lawyer.