A guide to car passenger injury compensation claims
This article looks at what you need to know about making a car passenger accident compensation claim.
Road accident compensation amounts are not affected by whether you are a driver or passenger in a vehicle. As a general principle, a passenger's compensation will not be reduced, even if the driver of their car is found to be partly (or even fully) responsible for an accident.
However, a passenger's compensation award could be reduced if they contributed to the severity of their injuries by not wearing a seatbelt.
Newly released Government data shows that almost 80% of those killed or injured as a result of road traffic accidents in 2014 were either drivers or passengers.
The data indicates that approximately 33% of those occupants are passengers, bringing the number of car passengers sustaining injury in 2014 to over 38,000.
Unlike drivers, passengers are in almost all cases not likely to be held liable for an accident.
Regardless of whether you were travelling in a vehicle hit by a negligent driver, or a passenger in the car that caused the accident, you can usually make a claim for compensation.
Quittance's panel of solicitors have represented both drivers and passengers injured in both minor and serious road accidents, and have helped individuals who have sustained:
- head injuries, including concussion
- spinal injuries
- broken bones, and
- other serious injuries
A claim should be possible if you were injured:
- in the last three years and
- another party was to blame (even partly) and
- that party owed you a duty of care (all road users have a duty of care to other road users)
However, some personal injury solicitors still might not take on your claim, even if you do qualify.
In most cases accidents are caused by a driver, either of the vehicle in which the passenger was travelling, or the driver of another car, van or HGV lorry.
There are occasions where this is not the case; where the poor condition of the road may have caused the accident or the accident was precipitated by poor street or road lighting.
In both cases, and irrespective of whether another road user or a local authority is responsible, a passenger wearing a seat belt and riding in a safe manner is rarely considered to be even potentially partly liable for their injuries.
The law states that every person over 14 years old must wear an adult seat belt when travelling in a private car. This applies to both front and rear seats. The passenger is responsible for ensuring that the seat belt they are wearing is properly adjusted.
For passengers under 14, it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that the child is correctly restrained, either by the use of rearward or forward facing child seats, appropriate booster seats, and by a seat belt.
What if I wasn't wearing a seat belt?
You can usually claim for injuries sustained in a road accident even if you were not wearing a seat belt, but the defendant may argue contributory negligence; your total compensation may be reduced as a result.
Complications may arise where passengers are deterred from claiming because the driver was a friend, relative or partner.
A passenger may also feel they contributed to their injuries by not wearing a seat belt properly, or caused the accident by distracting the driver in some way.
In either case, it will usually be a driver's insurance company that pays any settlement.
Making a claim against a friend or family member's insurance may affect their premium. You will need to weigh up the need for financial support during your recovery and support to arrange and pay for physio and other treatment against this possible increase. If you have any concerns, you may wish to discuss these with a solicitor.
Your compensation settlement will be based on:
- General damages are awarded for “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”. General damages will be calculated based on the severity of your injury, and the specific impact that your injuries have had on your life.
- Special damages are awarded for any other costs or losses. These could include lost wages, the cost of medical treatment (e.g. physiotherapy or osteopathy) and any financial losses or expenses incurred. Read more about what you can claim for in a personal injury claim.
Unless you are self-funding, claims solicitors now work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
No Win No Fee is an agreement (technically known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') which is entered into between the injured person and the personal injury solicitor.
No Win No Fee means that if your road accident claim is not successful then you would pay no legal fees at all.
If you do win your case, a success fee will be deducted from the compensation award and paid to the solicitor.
Meet the QLS team
The national network of Quittance solicitors handle all types of road accident claims, from relatively minor claims to catastrophic injury. Our solicitors are chosen for their track record in winning claims and their knowledge and expertise.