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Passenger Car Accident Claims
When a road traffic accident occurs, it is not only the driver who can suffer personal injury. Passengers of a vehicle are likely to be affected as well. Whether you are a passenger in a privately-owned vehicle, a taxi or on public transport, you may be able to make a claim if you have sustained a personal injury.
Passengers being injured in a road traffic accident is not uncommon. The Department of Transport recorded 109,046 car casualties in 2016 and 32% of those car occupant casualties were passengers. Just like drivers who suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence, passengers can also make a claim for being injured in a traffic accident. It is rarely the case that two accidents are the same and we understand that it may be unclear whether you are entitled to pursue a claim. If you were the passenger in a vehicle which was involved in a road traffic accident, then our friendly team can offer advice in relation to the individual circumstances of your accident.
For advice about pursuing a claim, you can call our Freephone helpline on 0800 195 95 90 and our team will be happy to help
Established in 1988, Smith Jones Solicitors have the expertise needed to maximise the compensation our clients receive for any injuries sustained such as in a car accident. Where possible we aim to facilitate the best care and treatment to our clients to aid in their recovery.
Most of our claims are funded through a no win, no fee agreement. Also known as a conditional fee agreement, a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement protects you from financial risk just in case your claim is unsuccessful¹³. Should your claim be successful, we cap our costs to ensure that you will always keep the majority of the compensation awarded to you and you will not be asked to contribute to the running of your claim until its conclusion.
As part of the claims process, our specialist team can help to arrange any future treatment or rehabilitation that you may require in order to aid in your recovery. This includes any physiotherapy you may need to alleviate your pain or symptoms and get you back to normal following an accident. We liaise with medical professionals to gain a thorough assessment of your needs and we use this to plan treatment and rehabilitation specific to your situation. We can also help you claim for any adaptations you may need to help you after your accident, such as crutches, wheelchairs, and other medical equipment.
Our team also understands that you may feel uncomfortable about claiming against the driver if you know them personally. However, many people do choose to pursue a claim if they have suffered injuries and other expenses which have seen them incurring some financial loss. The driver’s insurance will handle the claim on the driver’s behalf and so it is unlikely that the person you know will have much involvement in the claims process.
Our legal team specialises in dealing with accident and personal injury claims only. We have been providing legal services in the UK since 1988 and are accredited through the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, as well as The Law Society and, are regulated and authorised by the SRA.
Who Can Claim?
We recommend that you speak with a member of our expert team to determine whether you are eligible to claim compensation as there are several factors that we must consider. Our team will take thorough details of your accident, injuries, how your injuries affect your normal everyday activities, and use this information to advise you of your claim’s prospects of success.
Anyone who is a passenger in a vehicle and is injured or unfortunately passed away from their injuries as a result of a road traffic accident is eligible to make a claim as long as they were not the cause of the accident. Some basic criteria for pursuing a claim include:
- Whether the accident occurred in the last 3 years?
- Was the accident someone else’s fault?
- Did you sustain personal injury?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above questions, then you may be eligible to make a claim. For more information or advice regarding your claim, call our Freephone number 0800 195 9590 to talk to a highly experienced member of our team.
These basic criteria apply to people aged over 18 at the time of the accident. If the injured passenger was under the age of 18, then a parent or guardian will be required to act as a litigation friend to make a claim on their behalf at the outset. Alternatively, when the child reaches legal age, they have until the age of 21 to make a claim for an accident that occurred when they were under the age of 18.
Claims Against Other Road Users
A common scenario could involve a passenger in someone else’s car which is hit from behind by a reckless third party. In these circumstances, the driver may sustain whiplash and soft tissue injuries, but the passenger may also suffer similar injuries. The driver would most likely want to make a claim for their injuries and for the damage to their vehicle. The passenger of the vehicle can also make a claim for the personal injury they sustained as a result of the accident.
Passengers will be able to make to claim against the third party’s insurer for any injuries or damage sustained to belongings during a road traffic accident. Passengers can sustain the same injuries that drivers can when they are involved in an accident on the road. These may include:
- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Upper and lower limb injuries
- Lower back problems
- Post-traumatic stress
These injuries can affect passengers in different ways depending on the age of the passenger and whether they have any other problems. For instance, an elderly passenger may be more susceptible to broken bones or fractures following a road traffic accident. Children may also be more vulnerable to certain types of injury, as their bones may not have fully developed.
Claims Against The At-Fault Driver
Following an accident on the road, a claim for personal injury is always made against the party who was responsible for causing the accident. However, it is not always obvious who that person is. After being involved in a road traffic accident, it is easy to get distracted by the damage to the vehicle, or everyone blaming someone else for causing the accident. It may well be the case that the person responsible was the one driving the vehicle you were in.
Drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers and others who use the road. However, we understand that you may be apprehensive about pursuing a claim if it was your friend or relative driving the car that caused the accident. This may be due to the misguided belief that it will cause them some financial burden. All drivers must insure their vehicle against the possibility that it is involved in a collision. Car insurance also covers any expenses in the event of vehicle damage and injury to others. This includes injury to any passengers in the vehicle. Therefore, it is the insurer that pays out any compensation meaning that there are few financial implications for the person causing the accident.
There are things that you as a passenger can do to prevent or minimise the risk in an accident on the road, including not distracting the driver and most importantly ensuring that you wear a seatbelt at all times. Seatbelts are designed to reduce the injuries sustained in the case of a car crash, and so it is important that all passengers are wearing them. Any person over the age of 14 is responsible for the application of their own seatbelt. If you were the passenger in a car which has been involved in a road traffic accident, then failure to wear a seatbelt will not damage your claim’s chance of being successful but may lead to a reduction in your settlement as an element of ‘contributory negligence’ is present.
If the injured passenger was under the age of 14, then it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that the passenger is strapped in appropriately. This includes making any necessary adaptations in order to prevent injury to that passenger should the vehicle crash. For example, depending on age and height it may be necessary for a child to sit in an elevated car seat. Neglecting to do this may mean that the driver is responsible for any injuries sustained by that child.
Passengers On A Motorcycle
Motorcycles only make up a small percentage of traffic on the roads, but motorbike accidents account for almost 20% of fatalities suffered on the roads. As vulnerable road users, the consequences of motorcycle accidents can be particularly tragic, leaving both the rider and any passengers with devastating injuries.
If you were a passenger on a motorcycle and were involved in a road traffic accident, then you may be entitled to make a claim against the person responsible for the accident, whether that is a third party or the person controlling the motorcycle.
Passengers on Public Transport
If you were a passenger in a taxi, on a bus or on a train, and you have suffered personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, then you may be able to make a claim for personal injury. Much like being injured as the passenger in a car, if you are injured as a passenger on public transportthen you can make a claim against the party responsible. This could include another reckless road user or the driver of the vehicle you are travelling in. It is commonly the case that passengers on public transport are injured when the vehicle makes a sudden, unexpected movement causing the passenger to suffer injuries similar to whiplash.
Smith Jones Solicitors are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and have a number of accreditations related to the industry. These include the Law Society’s ‘Lexcel’ Practice Management Standard, the Law Society’s ‘Personal Injury’ accreditation and The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) accreditation.
Smith Jones are also members of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) and are 2017 Corporate Supporters of Headway – The brain injury association.