How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Get? 2024

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


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Car accidents can be terrifying events for both drivers and passengers. With more than six million car accidents in the US per year, the chances of being in an accident are high. After an accident, you may suffer physical and emotional trauma, and be faced with medical bills and lost income.

Passengers have legal rights after a car accident, and may be entitled to compensation for their losses. In this article, we uncover how passengers are compensated and what you need to know before you make a claim.

Passenger Rights After a Car Accident

Passengers have the same legal rights as drivers after an accident. However, it is less common for passengers to be considered at fault for an accident. As a result, the claims process can be more straightforward than it is for drivers.

The following rights and obligations apply to passengers after a car accident:

  • Right to compensation. A passenger in car accident settlement comes from the passenger’s right to seek compensation for damages caused by the accident. This includes reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress.
  • Right to multiple claims. Sometimes a car accident was the fault of more than one driver. In this case, a passenger may need to file claims against multiple parties to ensure they receive full compensation.
  • Obligation to not contribute to injuries. In order to recover compensation, it is important that the passenger did not contribute to their injuries. Actions like failing to wear a seatbelt or not complying with medical treatment can impact your right to compensation.
  • Obligation to follow no-fault rules. Twelve states have adopted so-called no-fault insurance laws. Drivers in these states are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This insurance covers medical bills and some other expenses for both the driver and their passengers. You may be obligated to file a claim for your medical expenses against the PIP insurance held by the driver of the vehicle you were riding in. This is true even if another driver was at fault for the accident.

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Calculating Passenger Compensation

The value of compensation for car accident damages can vary widely. So how much can a passenger get in a car accident? Let’s take a look at the types of accident compensation and the factors that impact settlement values.

Types of Damages

Compensation in car accident cases is determined by looking at a person’s damages. Your damages are the estimated value of making you whole after an accident. These are split into two different types of damages: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages from missing work, and property damage. For example, if the accident resulted in a hospital stay, a few days of missed work, and a broken mobile phone, all of these costs would be considered economic damages.

Non-economic damages are less straightforward. They compensate for trauma associated with the accident, such as pain and suffering. Because the compensation is for sometimes life-altering losses, it can be significantly higher in value than economic damages.

Factors That Impact Passenger Compensation

The compensation you can receive as a passenger depends on several factors:

  • Injury severity. The extent of your injuries significantly impacts the compensation amount. Minor car accident injuries may result in smaller settlements. Severe injuries are more likely to lead to substantial compensation.
  • Medical expenses. This includes both current medical bills and future medical costs related to the accident. If your injuries require ongoing rehabilitation or you need support with daily life activities, then compensation will be higher to account for those needs. Documentation of all medical treatments and expenses is vital.
  • Lost wages. If your injuries prevent you from working, you can claim compensation for lost income. Compensation for earnings can be even greater if your earning capacity is permanently affected, such as when your injuries prevent you from continuing the same line of work.
  • Emotional damages. Non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress are also considered. These are harder to quantify but are an essential part of your compensation if you have experienced them.
  • Fault clarity. Claiming compensation in most states requires knowing who was at fault for the accident. This can be a complicated issue to resolve, as fault may be shared amongst several parties.
  • Insurance limits. When an at-fault driver’s insurance fails to provide enough coverage, it can lead to a lower settlement offer. Alternative insurance coverage may apply to fill the gap. Even in no-fault states, some severe injuries may be eligible for compensation beyond PIP coverage.
  • Lawyer representation. According to the Insurance Research Council, personal injury settlements handled by lawyers result in 3.5 times higher settlement values.

The factors that impact car accident compensation for passengers are complex and overlapping. Working with a car accident lawyer is the best way to gain a realistic value for your individual case. Fill out the form on this page to get help today.

How to File a Passenger Claim

If you were not seriously injured, you might want to settle your car accident claim without a lawyer. This will require you to estimate your damages and present a claim to insurance on your own behalf. You will also need to be prepared to negotiate if you receive a low-ball settlement offer.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for Passenger Car Accident Claims

A qualified car accident lawyer can help remove the stress from pursuing a claim. Your lawyer can help by:

  • Gathering necessary evidence like the police report and medical records
  • Identifying all at-fault parties to ensure you submit all appropriate claims
  • Negotiating with insurance representatives on your behalf

Fill out the form on this page to connect with a car accident lawyer near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The average car accident settlement amount is $35,500. This value has risen consistently over the past few years. Factors like severe injuries and emotional distress can lead to significantly higher settlements, sometimes into the millions.

  • Some websites offer a calculator to estimate your potential damages. While these can give very broad value ranges, they do not consider all of the factors at play in your case. The best way to calculate your potential passenger car accident settlement value is to book a free consultation with a qualified personal injury lawyer in your area. Fill out the form on this page to get help today.

Do I Qualify for

Car Accident Compensation?
Free Case Review

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