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Austin Car Accident Settlement for Vehicle Passengers

Passengers are rarely responsible for causing car accidents, but they often suffer the consequences. These can take the form of serious injuries, lost wages, a permanent inability to work, and emotional and physical suffering. 

Claiming compensation for those losses and damages requires determining the available insurance and who is liable for the accident, whether it’s the person who was driving you at the time, another vehicle operator, or some other third party, such as a road construction company. As with any accident, you will need to assess the incident’s economic and non-economic impact on your life, including past medical bills, lost wages, future expenses, and pain and suffering. 

However, because you were not the driver, understanding the available insurance coverage and who is responsible for paying can become quite convoluted. Any time multiple insurance policies are involved in an accident, the separate carriers will attempt to shift responsibility away from themselves and onto the other parties. This can make it difficult to pinpoint exactly what your rights are, and who is legally responsible to pay for your damages.

Because of these complications, passengers injured in vehicle accidents substantially benefit from the expertise of qualified car accident and personal injury lawyers. The attorneys at FVF can help you understand the true financial impact of your accident, discover who may be liable for compensation, and understand the ins and outs of various insurance policies. Our firm’s sincere hope is that accident victims like you take the time to become educated about their rights and options after being injured as a passenger in a vehicle. Here’s what we think you need to know.

Determining Liability as an Injured Passenger

Understanding who was responsible for your accident is a crucial step in identifying the relevant insurance carriers and policies that might provide coverage for your harms and losses. However, liability is not always clear cut. In fact, it’s possible that multiple drivers or other parties share responsibility for the accident. 

Even if it is clear which driver caused the collision, it is important to identify any other parties or insurance companies that might be legally obliged to pay for your harms and losses. For instance, if you were a passenger in a vehicle struck by a driver who was on the job, the driver’s employer may be responsible for their employee’s conduct and liable to pay you for some or all of your damages.  Similarly, rideshare passengers, such as those riding in an Uber or Lyft, have completely different factors for determining which insurance companies are responsible for paying damages. 

The following are things your lawyer will consider as you work to identify liability:

  • The circumstances that caused your accident and who is at fault
  • Your relationship to the driver
  • Whether your driver is the primary policy holder for the vehicle
  • Whether the driver was working for Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing platform, and what that means for your case
  • Whether the driver was a commercial vehicle driver and what that means for your case
  • Whether alcohol or drug use played a part in your accident
Calculating Damages for Austin Vehicle Passenger Settlements

Many people fail to fully understand the true short- and long-term consequences an injury can have on things like medical costs and earning capacity. Even those who understand those consequences may not know how to prove them.

The following are common types of damages and losses we see — and know how to prove — in these types of cases:

  • Past medical bills
  • Estimated future medical expenses
  • Lost wages to date
  • Loss of earning capacity in the future
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Non-economic damages like pain, physical impairment, and lost enjoyment of life 
  • Punitive damages (if one or more drivers was intoxicated or otherwise engaging in gross negligence at the time of the accident)

A qualified and properly experienced auto accident attorney in Austin can help you document these expenses and evaluate the future costs associated with your injury.

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Factors That Can Affect Your Vehicle Passenger Settlement

The outcome of your case is determined not only by who was at fault and the extent of your damages, but also by the insurance funds available to cover those losses. Here are a few important factors that may play a determining role in your settlement.

  • The amount and type of coverage available to you. Not only may you need to deal with multiple insurance policies in your accident injury case, but there may also be multiple types of coverage included in those policies. In some cases, it may be advisable to file a claim with your own vehicle insurance policy as well. Common sources of coverage for accident injury claims include:
    • Liability insurance. Texas law requires every driver to possess liability insurance with a minimum of $30,000 coverage per person. If the other driver has broken the law by driving uninsured, you may need to turn to another insurance policy or even your own car insurance to cover medical costs. There are special rules that apply to passengers who are hurt in collisions caused by their own family members. Those rules might limit the amount of coverage available to you.
    • Uninsured/Underinsured (UIM) motorist bodily injury coverage. If the driver who caused your accident is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover all the damages caused, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries through your own UIM insurance.
    • Medical Payments (MedPay). If you have MedPay coverage on your own insurance policy, you can use this insurance to help pay your medical bills. MedPay coverage is useful to secure quick payment for these unexpected costs, but you’ll likely have to pay your insurance company back if you eventually settle with the at-fault driver’s insurance.
    • Personal injury protection insurance (PIP). PIP is similar to MedPay but also allows you to quickly recover costs beyond your unexpected medical expenses, such as lost wages. Also, PIP is superior to MedPay because you do not have to reimburse your own insurance company for PIP payments if you recover from the at-fault driver’s insurance.
  • Policy limits and exclusions. Insurance policies have a maximum payout, which means the amount the at-fault driver’s insurance can offer may fall short of the cost of your economic and non-economic harms and losses. If more than one person was injured, the available funds may be split between those parties. This can be especially tricky for people injured in bus accidents or multiple-vehicle collisions, or those with serious injuries and large medical bills. Insurance policies may contain exclusions as well. For instance, it may be difficult to seek coverage from a family member’s insurance policy. This may also be a concern if your accident is caused by a Lyft or Uber driver, as driving for a ridesharing company can void the driver’s liability coverage in their personal insurance plan. In that case, you may have to rely on the insurance policy provided through Lyft or Uber.
  • Whether a commercial vehicle was involved. When it comes to accidents involving commercial motor carriers, the company that employs the truck or bus driver can sometimes be held liable for negligence. This is especially true if there is proof that they have failed to maintain the vehicle or encouraged the driver to pull longer shifts than regulations allow. 

In rare circumstances, a passenger may be at fault or partially at fault for the accident, which decreases the chance that there will be a payout for the passenger’s injuries. Passenger behavior that can affect the outcome of the case includes:

  • Refusing to wear a seatbelt. If you are not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, you might be found partially held responsible for the injuries you incurred. Texas allows evidence of seat belt non-use if it can be proven that failure to wear the seatbelt caused or contributed to your specific injuries.
  • Engaging in high-risk behavior that distracts the driver. Plenty of people get distracted by innocent activities such as having a conversation with someone in the passenger seat or back seat. However, for the passenger, there’s a difference between holding a conversation and engaging in recklessly distracting behavior. Examples of this would be taking over control of the wheel (which technically makes you the driver), hitting the gas or brake pedals, shifting gears, or similar behavior. 
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Why Hire a Lawyer to Help with Your Austin Vehicle Passenger Settlement?

An auto accident attorney will formulate a strategy to obtain a settlement amount that covers your costs and needs. Your lawyer will help you identify alternative sources to cover your medical bills if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient. 

They can also help you unravel the different insurance policies and parties involved in your accident and understand the full extent of coverage available to you. And they can evaluate the cost of your injuries and estimate the current and future toll on your finances, health, and livelihood.

Vehicle passenger settlements can be particularly burdensome if the victim knows the at-fault driver. It is much harder to file a claim against a friend or acquaintance than against a stranger. Objective advice from an Austin auto accident attorney can be critical support in a stressful time. 

How FVF Can Help

At FVF, our experienced Austin car accident and personal injury lawyers value transparency and want to help you understand every option available to you. We offer free, no-commitment evaluations so that you can make educated decisions about your case. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Our Process and What You Can Expect

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Call FVF

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2
Get Answers

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3
Relax

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4
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