According to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation report, there were 268 car crashes per day in Pennsylvania in 2020, with about three fatalities and 168 injuries each day. One out of every 209 Pennsylvanians was injured in a car accident. Car accidents affect many people in Pennsylvania.
Car accidents can be dangerous for passengers in particular. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 35% of people who died in car accidents in 2020 were passengers.
Every year, passengers are injured as a result of driver error. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, driver errors include speeding, drinking, turning errors, careless driving, distracted driving, proceeding without clearance, tiredness, and tailgating. These are all forms of distracted driving.
If you were a passenger in a car accident in Pennsylvania, you should know your rights. Pennsylvania law allows passengers to bring insurance claims against drivers and bring civil suits for negligence against them. The experienced car accident attorneys at Hyde Tebay Legal may be able to help you navigate the process of getting the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
As A Passenger In A Pennsylvania Car Accident, Can You Sue The Driver?
Yes. If you were the passenger in a Pennsylvania car accident, you have the right to bring a car accident lawsuit against the vehicle’s driver in which you rode.
You may simply bring an insurance claim against the driver rather than filing a lawsuit. Alternatively, you may wish to come to a settlement agreement outside the courts. Ultimately, however, you do have the option to sue the driver for negligence in court. This is called a liability lawsuit.
You might do this even if the driver was a close family member. This way, the driver’s insurance company may compensate you for injuries you sustained in the accident.
Are There Rules Preventing Passengers In Car Accidents From Recovering Money In Lawsuits?
Old-fashioned rules prevented passengers in car accidents from recovering money from drivers’ insurance companies when passengers were injured in car accidents. These were called Ghost Statutes. The purpose of these rules was to prevent unnecessary litigation. Sometimes, people would bring insurance claims and lawsuits against family members to recover money from insurance companies, knowing that the family member would not have to pay. There was a concern that passengers would lie about the accident to receive money from the driver’s insurance.
However, Pennsylvania never enacted a ghost statute, and only one state has one today. Thus, passengers may bring insurance claims and lawsuits against drivers in motor vehicle accidents.
How Can An Injured Passenger Sue The Driver In A Car Accident?
To sue the driver of your auto accident, you must prove that the driver was negligent and that the driver’s negligence caused your injuries. A driver may be deemed negligent if the driver fails to act reasonably.
To win a lawsuit, you must establish that:
- The driver owed you a duty of care—the duty to drive responsibly
- The driver breached that duty of care by driving negligently
- The driver’s actions caused the accident
- You suffered real harm or injury due to the accident.
What Kind Of Damages May You Recover As A Passenger In A Car Accident In Pennsylvania?
If you were a passenger in a motor vehicle accident and decide to sue the driver, a Pennsylvania court may award you monetary damages. There are two types of monetary damages that the court may award you.
First, the court may award you economic damages. Economic damages compensate you for the financial costs of the accident. This includes medical expenses, nursing care, rehabilitation, property damage, and wages lost because of the accident.
Second, the court may award you noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages are meant to compensate you for the adverse effects of the accident that are not financial. These adverse effects may include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and loss of independence.
Can You Sue The Driver If You Contributed To The Accident As A Passenger?
Passengers may contribute to accidents in a variety of ways. If a passenger distracts a driver in a way that helps cause the accident, the court may find that the passenger was also at fault.
However, even if you, as a passenger, contributed to the accident, you may still be able to sue the driver and recover monetary compensation. Pennsylvania law states that as long as you were not the person the most responsible for the accident, you may still recover monetary damages. However, the law will reduce your recoverable monetary damages in proportion to your role in the accident. It’s important to note that the law only prevents you from recovering financial compensation for the accident if you were the main cause of the accident, receiving more than fifty percent of the blame.
Should You Sue The Driver If It Was A Friend Or Family Member?
You may worry about the effects of suing a friend or family member who was driving. However, Pennsylvania law mandates that all vehicle owners have insurance. This insurance covers property damage and injuries the vehicle owner may cause in a collision. When you sue the driver responsible for the crash, and the driver has insurance, their insurance company pays—not the driver personally. Thus, you may be assured that a suit against a friend or family member will likely not bring them significant financial hardship, and you should receive compensation for your injuries.
What Do Insurance Companies Think If The Driver Was Your Friend Or Family Member?
When insurance companies find out that you were a passenger in an accident where the driver at fault was a friend or family member, insurance companies can use this information for their benefit. Insurance companies seek to pay the lowest settlements they can. And insurance companies understand that you may wish to avoid conflict with a friend or family member.
It’s important to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania car accident lawyer to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies may also scrutinize claims brought against friends or family members because insurance companies may suspect fraud. The experienced car accident lawyers at Hyde Tebay Legal can help you navigate the process of receiving compensation for your injuries from a friend or family member’s insurance company.
Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys For Passengers Injured In Car Accidents
Car accidents happen every day in Pennsylvania, affecting passengers and drivers. The Department of Transportation reported that in 2020 alone, 48 passengers died in alcohol-related crashes. If you sustained injuries as a passenger in a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. When you sue the driver and recover damages, the driver’s insurance company—not the driver personally—usually pays.
If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident, you might have suffered both physical and emotional costs. The expert personal injury attorneys at Hyde Tebay Legal may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Request a free consultation today. Call (484) 886-4271 or contact the experienced personal injury atto