I was a passenger involved in an accident; can I make a claim?

Being in an accident as a passenger can be a terrifying experience. But if you have suffered injuries as a passenger are you able to make a claim for compensation? Fortunately, passengers who are injured in a road traffic accident have more compensation rights than either of the drivers involved – because there is no way they can be deemed liable for the cause of the incident.

Consequently, it’s usually much easier for a passenger to claim compensation after an accident than it is for a driver.

A driver’s duty of care

From a legal perspective, the driver of a motor vehicle has an obligation to drive carefully and safely and to prevent injuring their passengers or other road users. This is known as the ‘duty of due care’.

Should the driver fail to show due care for their passengers’ safety, and this reckless or negligent driving results in an injury , the passengers have the right to take legal action to claim damages. Passengers also have the right to claim compensation if the driver of another vehicle was responsible.

Who can I sue?

If you have been injured as a passenger in an accident you may be able to sue:

  • The driver of the car you were in, the other driver or both drivers
  • The local authority – if a road surface, pothole or faulty streetlight was to blame
  • The vehicle manufacturer – for accidents caused by malfunction

People often feel awkward about suing the driver of the vehicle they were travelling in especially if they are a family member or friend. But in reality, any compensation claim made against a driver will be covered by their insurance policy and it is the provider who must pay for any damages, so there is no need to be reticent.

In addition, if you have sustained injuries which require specialist rehabilitation or limit your mobility, a car crash can have a life-long impact. Securing compensation can help you to cope with this.

What type of injury can I claim for?

Injuries that can be claimed for include:

  • Facial bruising or scarring
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Burns
  • Serious head and spinal injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Paralysis
  • Fatal injuries

As with all personal injury cases, there are a number of associated costs which can be included as part of a passenger claim. These include

  • Loss of earnings
  • General damages – for pain, suffering and injuries sustained
  • Medical Expenses – including any private visits, medication or equipment
  • Travel Expenses

Time limits

In most cases, you have three years from the date of the incident to begin a claim – or until your 21st birthday if the accident took place when you were a child.

For anyone who does not have the mental capacity to make their own legal decisions, there is no time limit to make a claim. This rule is often applied to anyone who has suffered a serious brain injury.

Where a fatality has occurred, the deceased’s family has three years to take action – starting from either the date of death or the day when the post-mortem results were received.

Time limits do vary for accidents which took place outside the UK, so it is important to begin your case as soon as possible.