Automobile Passenger Injuries and Claims
Were You the Passenger in a Mississippi Auto Accident?
Overall, there are fewer passenger injuries and deaths when an automobile accident occurs than driver injuries and deaths, however not by much. The number of injuries and deaths vary by age, yet there are approximately half as many passenger injuries and death vs. driver injuries and death (for the same accident). This is probably not a very comforting statistic for those passengers who have suffered serious injury from an auto accident.
Whether you were the driver or the passenger in an auto collision, you have likely been through a very frightening, confusing experience. Your situation can be further complicated when the insurance companies cannot agree on which driver is liable for the accident. As the passenger, it is fairly certain you were not responsible for the accident, and you do have options.
Injuries to Passengers in a Mississippi Automobile Collision
The injuries you sustain as a passenger in a Mississippi auto crash will depend on a number of variables, including what type of crash you were in and whether the car you were riding in had airbags and other safety features. Head-on collisions tend to be the deadliest, although a side-impact or “T-bone” accident on your side of the vehicle could also leave you with serious injuries. Although a low-speed rear-end accident might not leave you with the level of injury a head-on or side-impact collision could, you could still have serious, life-altering injuries, particularly soft-tissue injuries.
If the car you were riding in was struck squarely on your side, you would have been left very vulnerable—after all, there is little more than a metal and glass door to protect you. If you were riding in a car with a side airbag, you may have fared much better, and if you were properly wearing your seatbelt, your chance of fewer injuries increases even more. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that as of 2013, there were about 199 million cars on the road with dual airbags, and that airbags, combined with seat belts are the most effective way to protect those inside a vehicle. It is estimated that 12,802 lives were saved in 2014 because of safety belt.
While a car accident can cause a wide variety of injuries, certain injuries tend to occur more often than others. In particular:
- Brain and head injuries occur frequently in car accidents. A closed head injury can range from a mild concussion to a traumatic brain injury. Even if there are no outward signs of injury to the head, the brain can be jostled severely inside the skull on impact.
- Neck injuries are also very common following a car accident. Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash and neck strain can occur fairly often, however more serious injuries such as disc injury can occur.
- Back injuries result when there is significant torque on the bodies of passengers and drivers during a car accident. There may be back sprains, strains, fractures, thoracic spinal injuries, lumbar spine injuries and even partial or full paralysis. Like a neck injury, back injuries may not be readily apparent, and can manifest days, or even weeks after the accident.
- Facial injuries can be caused by the dashboard, steering wheel, airbag, side window, front window, shattered glass, car seats, or loose objects inside the vehicle. Facial lacerations and other facial injuries can range in severity from scrapes and bruises, to lacerations, fractures and serious dental injuries to permanent facial disfigurement.
- Injuries sustained in an auto accident are not limited only to physical injuries. Many of those who have been involved in a serious auto crash can suffer short or long-term psychological injuries, such as emotional distress, and even symptoms of PTSD. These psychological issues can make it difficult for the person to ever get into a car again, which would, in turn, severely limit his or her future.
Determining Liability in Your Mississippi Auto Collision
Insurance companies will immediately attempt to determine who is at fault for the auto accident. The police report will carry weight in this determination, however, the insurance companies may launch an investigation which includes obtaining statements from all the parties involved, talking to witnesses, and even bringing in experts who can recreate the crash, determining who was at fault. Some vehicles contain a sort of “black box,” which will show whether the driver braked, how fast the vehicle was traveling, etc.
Who Will You File a Claim Against?
If the driver of the vehicle you were in is determined to be at fault in the accident, you have the legal right to file an insurance claim against that driver’s insurance policy. If you happen to be related to the driver, you are, essentially, an insured driver, and, as such, filing a liability claim against your own coverage. For that reason, the claim would have to be pursued as an uninsured motorist coverage claim. Obviously, if the other driver is found to be liable for the accident, you may be able to pursue a claim against his or her insurance.
You may be entitled to file a claim against the medical payments portion of your own automotive policy, which is not based on liability, however pain and suffering, as well as lost wages and other expenses are usually not included in this portion of the coverage. If the passenger collects under his or her own insurance, then later receives compensation from the driver’s insurance, the amount already received may be deducted from the settlement. In the very unlikely event the passenger was deemed partially at fault for the accident (he or she grabbed the steering wheel), then the passenger’s recovery could be reduced by the proportionate share of fault in the accident.
More often than not, the passenger who is injured in a car collision has a much easier case than a driver, because the passenger is not required to prove liability. It can get much more complicated when there are four passengers in a car and all are injured to some degree. Essentially, all those injured people would have to file their claim with the negligent driver’s insurance, and the total amount would possibly exceed the limits on the policy. Therefore, if the passengers were unable to agree among themselves how much each should get, they would likely have to file a lawsuit to determine the amount each is entitled to.
Getting the Legal Help You are Entitled To
If you suffered an auto accident as a passenger and have injuries as a result, it could be time to speak to a knowledgeable Southaven auto accident attorney. It is particularly important during the crucial days after your auto accident that you have someone in your corner who will be looking out for your interests and your rights at every turn. Having someone who can explain the process of recovering your expenses and lost wages, who truly understands what you are going through, can be an invaluable resource during this time. If you were injured as the result of an auto accident, call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton at (662) 536-5656 today. Our attorneys will treat you with respect and compassion and will work hard on your behalf to get you the best settlement possible.