Passenger Injury Claims in Western PA
Pittsburgh car accident lawyers
When you ride in a car with someone, you are quite literally putting your life in his or her hands: the hands that control the steering wheel. As a passenger, you are equally at risk from other drivers on the road as well. It is important that you are aware of your rights to recover for injuries sustained while you were a passenger in a vehicle. Drivers owe the same duty of reasonable care to passengers in other cars and their own, as they do to fellow drivers and pedestrians.
Car accidents can cause some of the most devastating injuries to passengers, who may not be protected the same as the driver due to the design of the vehicle. Some of these injuries could be brain damage from hitting your head, back pain and neck problems from whiplash, broken arms and legs from collisions, and spinal cord injuries, to name a few.
Injured passengers have the ability to collect for their injuries stemming from both single and multi-car accidents; either way the at-fault driver’s policy will be liable. However, your own insured status has an effect on how claims are resolved. There are important options within your car insurance policy that you chose upon purchase of your plan:
- Full Tort Liability: If you chose this option on your car insurance, then in the event of injuries to you at the fault of another, you have retained the ability to sue the at-fault person for damages beyond simply recouping expenses for medical bills and loss of income. This option is generally more expensive, but does allow you to sue the driver at fault for pain and suffering and other monetary damages.
- Limited Tort Liability: If you chose this option on your car insurance, then you are most likely limited to damages for recovery of monetary loss incurred through medical expenses and time off from work. However, there are exceptions to the limited tort option such as when a drunk driver was at fault for your injuries.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): If you chose this option it is extremely beneficial when the at-fault driver has no car insurance to pay for your injuries. In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to have car insurance, but many cannot afford it, so your car insurance policy will act in place of the at-fault driver’s, and pay out to you for your injuries.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): If you chose this option it assists you in recovering the full amount needed for your injuries. In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to have car insurance, so this leads many to simply purchase the cheapest, legal policy available. Most of these only pay $15,000.00 towards injuries to another. In this situation, where the at-fault driver is under-insured, your car insurance policy will make up the monetary difference between what the at-fault driver’s policy paid and what was actually needed for your injuries.
It is important to note that while you might be reluctant to make a claim through your own policy for UM/UIM coverage for fear of increased premiums, under Pennsylvania law, insurance companies are prohibited from raising premiums if you were in no way at fault in the accident. Also, even though you are dealing with your own insurance company, as soon as you enter into a UM/UIM claim, you should contact an attorney, as the insurance company may become adversarial.
It is also important to recognize that you are not barred from making a claim against a family member for his or her fault in an accident. Remember, you are making a claim against the insurance company and not him or her personally. The insurance company will be forced to pay for your injuries, not your family member, although it may lead to increased premiums.
If you do not have car insurance and were injured as a passenger, you are considered an insured of the policy of the car in which you were riding. Most likely you will be able to collect under that policy.
Dealing with insurance policies, adjusters and claims can be very confusing, especially while recuperating from injuries. Please be sure to contact our firm for expert assistance with your potential claim.
If you or a family member has been injured as a result of being a passenger in an accident in which you were not at fault, please call Rudberg Law Offices, LLC for a free consultation of your case.
Please remember that you have only two (2) years from the date of the auto accident to file a lawsuit for your injuries. It is always best to pursue a claim as quickly as possible, as it can become more difficult as time passes. It is extremely beneficial if you are able to collect any information at the scene of the accident like insurance information and witness names, however, given your injuries, this may be impossible.
Contact a skilled accident lawyer in Pittsburgh
If you have been injured in any type of accident caused by the careless or wrongful actions of others, call the Pittsburgh attorneys of Rudberg Law Offices, LLC for assistance at (412) 488-6000, (866) 306-2667, or complete our quick contact web form.