What To Do If You’re A Passenger In A Car Accident

We are happy to speak to you over the phone if you have questions about being a passenger in a car accident. We get phone calls every week from people who are still at the scene of an accident, wondering what they should do to protect their rights. We are proud they think to call us. We can be reached at 704.749.7747 or you can click here for a FREE CASE EVALUATION.

Passengers In Car Accidents Have Extensive Rights

If you’re a passenger in a car accident, the news is good. The accident was not your fault. This means there are options for you in terms of financial recovery. The path to personal injury compensation may involve disputing with multiple insurance carriers regarding liability (who is responsible). Generally, either the driver of your vehicle will be responsible, or the driver of the vehicle who collided with you. But again, as a passenger, there should not be any liability for you. There are exceptions to this rule and those exceptions include:

Knowingly Driving With A Drunk Driver

Knowingly Driving With A Driver Known To Be Irresponsible

Engaging In Behavior Contributing To The Accident

Getting Medical Treatment For Your Injuries

After documenting the accident with a police report, the next thing a passenger in a car accident needs to do is get appropriate medical treatment. We recommend you receive medical treatment the day of the accident and preferably go directly from the accident scene to the emergency room. Sometimes this isn’t convenient, or you may not feel you are injured. Quite often, you don’t feel your injuries immediately after the car accident. This is a combination of adrenaline and the time it takes for injuries to reveal themselves.

You will generally not compromise your passenger claim by seeking medical treatment for the first time a day or two after the accident. If you wait more than a week after the accident to receive treatment for the first time, you can expect the insurance company to put up resistance regarding the value of your injuries.

Once you have been seen by a physician at the emergency room or hospital, you will be given follow-up recommendations. Be sure to follow up with your doctor as recommended. If you have what are known as ‘soft tissue’ injuries (back, neck, and shoulder strains) you may consider seeking Chiropractic Treatment for those injuries. Generally, your treatment, if reasonable and not excessive, will be honored by the insurance company analyzing your claim.

Who Will Pay Your Passenger Claim?

Your personal injury attorney will review your police report and send a letter of representation to the party believed to be at fault. If there is a dispute between two insurance companies as to fault, the easiest solution is to file a lawsuit against both parties. Or at least to threaten to file a lawsuit against both insurance companies. The theory is that you as the passenger were not responsible and that a jury can decide how the two insurance companies should share fault.

Typically, even if there is resistance, your personal injury attorney will be able to successfully encourage the insurance companies to work out an arrangement that will lead to you being paid the full value of your passenger car accident claim.

If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you can typically file an uninsured motorist claim. These situations are discussed routinely on

Filing Your Passenger Claim Against The Insurance Company

Passenger claims are filed like most other claims. You must reach out to the insurance company to start a claim. Generally, you’ll need your police report on hand to do this. The intake officer will want to know details about the accident and the police report number. Lastly, the intake officer will need to establish there was insurance coverage on the at-fault driver at the time of the accident. At the end of the conversation, you should be assigned a claim number and be given contact information for an adjuster.

Establishing The Value Of Your Passenger Claim

We have written extensively on this site about establishing the value of your personal injury claim. As a passenger, not much is different. The value of your claim will be a combination of your medical bills, injuries supported by medical records, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any special damages which might exist. If the at-fault driver was texting, racing, or driving under the influence, you may be able to recover punitive damages meant to punish the driver for that activity. Your personal injury lawyer’s job is to maximize the value of your passenger claim and make sure you’re treated fairly, all things considered.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have questions about working with a personal injury lawyer, or if you have questions about a passenger claim from a car accident, call us today. You can call 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will contact you immediately. When it comes to choosing a personal injury law firm, we know you have options. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

If you are a passenger in a car accident, you sue the at-fault party or at-fault parties. This will require review of the police report, which a personal injury attorney can assist you with. You may have be able to sue both the driver of your vehicle and the other driver, depending upon the facts of the car accident, as well as how much insurance each party has.

If you’re a passenger in a car accident, and if you suffer injuries, you most likely have a right to a personal injury passenger claim. Your personal injury lawyer will work to establish liability with an insurance carrier for either your driver or another driver. Once liability is established, your personal injury lawyer will negotiate the claim based upon your injuries, medical treatment and billing, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our firm routinely files personal injury passenger claims and we hope this article is helpful.

Am I Responsible As A Passenger?

Generally, unless they contributed in some way to the accident, passengers are not responsible for the accident. An exception would be where the passenger contributed to the accident in some manner. North Carolina has a rule of law known as Contributory Negligence. Under Contributory Negligence, if you were deemed to contribute to the accident by as little as 1%, a jury would be instructed to award you nothing for your personal injury passenger claim.

Below, are some examples of Contributory Negligence of passengers in a personal injury passenger claim:

  • Voluntarily riding with a driver you know or should know is impaired. An example would be getting into a vehicle with a friend whom you had been drinking alcohol with at a bar.
  • Awareness that your driver is violating the law or has a history of doing so. An example would be that you are aware your driver has been cited for reckless driving numerous times, and you choose to ride in their vehicle. However, you will not be made responsible to warn an otherwise reasonable driver who is driving above the speed limit.
  • Continuing as a passenger in a vehicle with a reckless driver after being given a chance to exit the vehicle. An example would be a driver is driving recklessly and at an excessive speed. The driver stops for gas. At that time you have an opportunity to exit the vehicle. If you remain a passenger in the vehicle and the driver later injures you, Contributory Negligence may bar your recovery. Bell v. Maxwell, 246 NC 257, SE 2nd 33 (1957).

Which Driver Is Responsible For A Passenger’s Injuries?

Whichever driver is the at-fault driver will be held responsible for the injuries to a passenger in a car accident. Additionally, if you exhaust the at-fault driver’s insurance policy proceeds, you may recover under your own auto insurance policy. Your under-insured motorist coverage will serve as a potential source of additional funds in this scenario.

Personal Injury Passenger Claims In Multiple Car Accidents

If you are a passenger in a multiple car accident or a “pile up” accident, you may recover from multiple drivers. For example, suppose your vehicle rear-ends the vehicle in front of you. Then, the vehicle behind you rear-ends the vehicle in which you are traveling. Most likely, your injuries from the accident will be a result of both the first and the second collision. Your personal injury lawyer will negotiate with the insurance companies for both your driver and the driver who hit you. Your driver is responsible for a failure to maintain a safe stopping distance from the vehicle ahead. The driver behind you is responsible for the same, as in most rear-end auto accidents. Typically, the two insurance companies will agree upon a percentage of your injuries for which that each insurance company is responsible. Your personal injury lawyer will negotiate a settlement with each insurance company, or file suit in the alternative.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have a personal injury passenger claim, speak with a Charlotte personal injury lawyer today. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call. You will speak directly with a personal injury lawyer. Part of our job is helping you understand your rights. We know you have choices, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us. Want to see what our clients have to say? Click HERE.


If you are a passenger in a car accident, there’s a helpless feeling that comes along with it—you had nothing to do with whether there was an accident or not. You weren’t driving the vehicle you were in, and certainly you weren’t driving the other vehicle. Truthfully though, passengers in a car accident often experience the worst injuries. Here are some tips for moving forward if you’ve been injured.

Insist On A Police Report

Even if both drivers are interested in moving on, for one reason or another, you should strongly encourage calling a police officer to the scene. The officer will establish a record of the accident including the date and time, all individuals present, and quite often leave notes in the report as to who the officer believes was at fault. Additionally, having an officer on hand helps to insure that the parties provide accurate information as to how to contact each individual and what motor vehicle insurance they may have.

Seek Medical Treatment

The biggest mistake injured passengers make is not seeking medical treatment. Sometimes it’s because the passenger doesn’t think they are hurt, as is the case with a minor accident or “fender bender”. Other times, it’s because the passenger doesn’t have health insurance or money to pay the out-of-pocket or deductible that comes with health insurance. In the personal injury legal world, however, seeking health treatment very quickly is key to preserving your ability to be compensated for your injury.

Insurance adjusters view a delay in treatment as a sign that either a) your injury wasn’t legitimate, or b) your injury happened after the car accident and before you sought treatment. In other words, it’s not the insurance company’s responsibility.

Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

When you’re a passenger in a car accident, there are multiple insurance policies which may come into play when settling your personal injury claim. First, a determination must be made as to who is the at-fault driver. Whether it’s the other vehicle or the vehicle you were traveling in, a personal injury lawyer will establish a claim on your behalf and set forth the facts, supported by law, which establish fault.

If your injury is severe and you exhaust the insurance policy limits on the at-fault driver’s policy, you can pursue the insurance policy limits on the other vehicle. The minimum insurance policy limits for a motor vehicle are $30,000 per bodily injury or $60,000 total bodily injury for all persons in the accident. § 20-279.21.  “Motor vehicle liability policy” defined.

For injuries and medical bills which justify a larger recovery, your personal injury lawyer will pursue additional policies via underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This is a function of motor vehicle law.

Start With A Consultation

It’s important to understand your rights and recover damages that you’re entitled to as a result of someone else’s negligent behavior. We are happy to discuss your case with you and provide guidance. There’s no charge for the consultation, and it can be done in person or over the phone. If you’d like to speak with a personal injury lawyer today, call 704.749.7747 and we will help you move forward. Or, you can click HERE to request a phone call at a time of your choosing. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.