Who Pays if You’re a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident?

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Most people are regularly passengers in vehicles. Either that or they have passengers in their car. However, it is crucial to understand what happens if an accident occurs and a passenger sustains an injury. Most of the discussion around car accident compensation revolves around the drivers, but passengers are usually blameless for a crash. They are able to recover compensation, though it can be challenging to understand who is responsible for paying. 

An Iowa Tragedy – a Wedding, Some Friends, and a Crash

In Davenport, Iowa, three men were recently in town for a wedding. Unfortunately, the wedding never happened. On May 13, Bettendorf High School soccer star Jack Dunn was getting ready for his Saturday wedding. Two of his best friends were running errands before a Friday night wedding rehearsal when tragedy struck. 

David Gjeraker traveled from Norway for the wedding, and he was sitting in the passenger seat. Younes Dayekh had come up from Texas for the nuptials to serve as an usher, and he was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. 

As the three were driving east on Veterans Memorial Parkway, a car coming in the opposite direction made a sudden turn and t-boned their vehicle, which had the right of way. 

“We had a really great day,” Dunn said after the crash. “Younes was having so much fun.”

The crash was severe. The dash was in Dunn’s leg, but Gjeraker was able to get out. Dayekh was against the door in the rear seat, and he was not in good shape. Dunn called his fiancé, who is a nurse, to come to the scene. Others had already called 911. By the time his fiancé arrived, everyone was in an ambulance about to go to the hospital. 

Dunn sustained a pelvic and hip fracture and a head laceration. Gjeraker sustained minor injuries. Younes Dayekh, however, sustained serious injuries – a spinal cord and neck injury as well as a severe head injury. 

This story highlights what many people never really think about in the aftermath of a crash – passengers and securing compensation for their injuries. 

In this particular crash, it is likely that the driver who t-boned the three men will be responsible for paying compensation through their insurance carrier. Dunn and his passengers should be able to recover compensation. But what if Dunn, who was driving, had caused the accident? Would his passengers still be able to recover the compensation they deserve?

Consequences of Being Injured in an Automobile Accident in Iowa

Medical and all other subsequent bills that come after a car accident are not to be messed with. The United States of America has some of the highest medical bills in the world – and with insurance companies refusing to pay for a large portion of incurred expenses after an accident – many people are plunged into debt for years. While the story of Dunn and his friends is certainly a tragedy, it is not rare. The question of who pays should a passenger be involved in an accident still stands. This may even extend to pedestrians who find themselves injured, and other involved parties.

As the passenger of a vehicle, individuals are usually entitled to file a claim against the driver of the vehicle they were in, the driver of the other vehicle, or both depending on the circumstances and personal wants on the matter. Should no other car be involved in an accident, for example, an injured passenger may choose to file a claim only against the car’s driver. The wedding party participants will likely file a claim against the driver who failed to yield the right of way, but had Dunn caused the crash, his passengers would file the claim against his insurance. If both parties were at-fault, then compensation payouts would be divided according to Iowa’s comparative negligence laws. This is largely circumstantial and depends on the individual filing the claim.

Even though it may be difficult to file a claim against a friend or loved one in relation to the injured passenger, the main goal of filing a claim is returning one’s life to its pre-accident condition. An extensive list of compensations may be able to be claimed by a passenger injured in a car accident. This includes compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, punitive damages, and many other non-economic damages. As previously explained, it should be stated that the pursuit of compensation is necessary to avoid a lifetime of debt.

Taking Concrete Legal Action, One Step at a Time

The United States and Iowa have particularly tricky legal systems. Obtaining these damages through a claim can be a difficult task for those unfamiliar with the legal process. Furthermore, attempting to do so without the proper knowledge of how to file cases greatly increases the risk for a failure to recover damages that are owed. Conscripting the help of an attorney greatly increases the chances, and enables the plaintiff the peace of mind that their attorney will use their experience in the court system to properly file their case.

For those in a similar situation as Dunn and his passengers, insurance companies rarely should be trusted to pay out a full and fair price to the injured passenger of a car. These types of incidents happen regularly and call for the need for real legal action. Additionally, it should be highlighted that Iowa’s car insurance minimum requirements are not high. Drivers in this state are only required to carry bodily injury coverage of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. 

Both Dunn and Dayekh’s injuries will almost certainly rise above the minimums of the other driver involved, so recovering full compensation could be difficult. It may be necessary for them to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover full compensation for their losses. This elevates the injury claim and works to gather additional compensation from the other party’s personal assets.