Car accidents are scary and stressful and can be damaging for everyone, including passengers.
When you’re on the road, your safety is never fully in your own hands. That is especially true when you’re traveling as a passenger rather than a driver. A car accident can be particularly overwhelming in this situation. However, you can rest assured that there are laws in place to protect your rights as a passenger.
What Types of Accidents Lead to Passenger Injuries?
Any accident can lead to serious injuries. However some types, t-bones for instance, are especially harmful to passengers.
A t-bone accident happens when one vehicle crashes into another vehicle at a perpendicular angle. This type of accident gets its name because the collided vehicles form a “T” shape. They often happen at intersections, red lights, and stop signs when drivers neglect to come to a stop. Injuries are often severe because car doors are generally not as protective as the front or back of a vehicle. This type of accidents account for 25% of occupant deaths in passenger vehicles. Passengers’ heads can come into contact with the car door or window. For this reason, many t-bone accidents lead to head injuries like concussions.
An estimated 2.5 million rear-end collisions happen yearly in the United States. That’s over 6,800 rear-end accidents per day. Backseat passengers bear the brunt of the injuries. They don’t have the buffer that most drivers and front seat passengers have. Rear-end accidents often leave passengers with whiplash as well as back and spinal injuries. Spinal fractures are common in rear-end collisions that happen at high speeds. Passengers can sustain painful injuries like slipped spinal discs at low speeds as well.
Rollover accidents comprise 35% of passenger vehicle deaths. Speeding is a major contributor to rollover accidents. An estimated 40% of fatal rollover accidents happen at excessive speeds. At a high speed, running into a curb or other object on the road can cause a vehicle to tip over on its side or land on its roof. This is more likely to happen to large, top-heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs. Taking sharp turns is another way drivers lose control and cause rollovers. Virtually no body parts are risk-free in a rollover accident. These accidents are known to cause traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue damage, and broken limbs among various other injuries.
Head-on collisions make up 13% of rural car accidents. As 39% of the population are considered rural Minnesotans, many passengers statewide should be cautious. These accidents are exceedingly harmful due to the impact from both cars. Even though backseat passengers are farther away from the point of impact, they are less likely to have the built-in protection that those in the front seat do. Airbags are more common in the front seat. Regardless of where passengers are seated, head injuries are a major risk. Also, occupants can be thrown from their seats and even ejected from the car when the two vehicles collide. These scenarios can lead to life-changing conditions like damage to critical organs and paralysis.
How Do I File a Car Accident Injury Claim if I was the Passenger?
If you are a vehicle owner, you will start by making a claim with your own insurance company even if your vehicle wasn’t involved in the accident. This will help to cover at least some medical expenses and lost wages via your no-fault policy. However, if you don’t own a vehicle, you can file using the no-fault coverage of an insured family member of your household. If neither of those circumstances apply to you, you’ll first use go through the no-fault coverage of the vehicle you were traveling in when the accident happened.
Which Driver Do I File an Injury Claim Against?
Once no-fault coverage is exhausted, you will file an injury claim against the driver who is at fault. Sometimes more than one driver involved contributes to an accident. In that scenario, you can pursue a claim against more than one party. Your personal injury attorney will help to determine the amount you can pursue from each of their insurance companies. It’s important to note that the other parties’ insurance companies are never eager to pay out claims. They will attempt to get you to settle for as little as possible. That is another reason why it is critical to speak with a car accident attorney first. Your attorney can handle this process for you.
What if the Driver or Other Vehicle Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If the driver of the other vehicle is at-fault and is not insured, you will rely on the uninsured motorist insurance of the vehicle you were in. Likewise, if the other vehicle’s operator is underinsured, you can turn to your driver’s insurance for underinsured motorist coverage.
In some cases, an injured passenger may be eligible for free no-fault coverage. As a passenger, if you and your household members do not own an uninsured vehicle and the drivers involved in the accident are uninsured, this free coverage may be available to you.
Contact an Experienced Minnesota Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured as the passenger of a vehicle, an experienced Minnesota car accident attorney can guide you through this non-typical claim process. The attorneys of Sand Law will carefully review the details of your accident to ensure that you receive the most compensation from any and all negligible drivers involved. You can contact us online or call us at 651-291-7263