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Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Recover Compensation?

When many people think of injured car accident victims, they often picture the driver of a vehicle as the injured victim who then files a car accident lawsuit against the driver in the other vehicle. However, many injured car crash victims are passengers in vehicles. A passenger can suffer catastrophic injuries and in certain types of accidents can suffer more severe injuries than the driver.

A passenger in a vehicle who is injured in a crash may be able to recover financial compensation from the driver who caused the accident, no matter who the at-fault driver was. The following is a brief overview of what steps an injured passenger can take. For more detailed information, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our seasoned car accident attorneys.

Determining Fault in a Crash when the Passenger Is the Victim

There are a few possibilities of who the at-fault driver is when a passenger is injured in a crash. It may be the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident or it could be the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was riding in. Sometimes, there is more than one party who is at fault and both drivers may hold some percentage of liability.

Many times, an injured passenger hesitates to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver of the vehicle they were in because the driver is a loved one or friend. For any victim in this situation, it is critical to remember that a car accident claim is not an aggressive act against the at-fault driver. The claim the victim files is actually against the driver’s insurance company and not against the driver. No matter what the relationship with the at-fault driver, a victim deserves financial compensation for the losses their injuries cause them to suffer and Virginia law allows them to obtain that compensation.

Pursuing for Damages for Car Accident Injuries

In order to be successful in obtaining damages for car accident injuries, a victim and their car accident attorney will need to prove two main elements of their case, liability and damages. There are many acts and behaviors of a driver that can cause a crash which they can be held liable for. Some of the more common of these include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Using a cell phone while driving (talking, texting, social media, etc.)
  • Driving recklessly
  • Fatigued driving
  • Speeding
  • Ignoring traffic signals/signs

One a the at-fault’s driver’s liability has been proven, the next step is to determine what the victim’s damages are. There are three types of damages a victim can suffer, economic, non-economic, and punitive.

Compensation for economic damages covers past and future medical bills for the treatment of injuries sustained in the accident, wages lost while the victim was recovering from the crash, loss of future earnings due to a disability that leaves the victim unable to return to their old job, and property damage.

Compensation for non-economic damages covers physical and emotional pain and suffering. The amount of these damages is based on the severity of the discomfort and anguish the victim experiences.

Economic and noneconomic damages are referred to as compensatory damages because they are meant to “compensate” the victim for the losses their injuries have caused them. Economic damages have a tangible dollar amount that determines their total. Noneconomic damages do not have a tangible dollar amount and are either agreed upon by during settlement negotiations or are determined by the jury if the case goes to litigation.

Punitive damages are not compensatory but are instead what their name implies – they are meant to “punish” the at-fault party because their behavior or actions that caused the accident was so egregious. One of the most common types of car accident cases where punitive damages are awarded to the victim is in drunk driving crashes.

Speak to a Virginia Car Accident Attorney

All car accidents have the potential to permanently change the trajectory of a person’s life. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, and need compensation to find some amount of recovery, talk to a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro & Appleton to find out all your legal options.

Car accident injuries should not be ignored, and you deserve compensation for your suffering. Our firm has more than three decades of experience successfully advocating for injured victims and their families and will work diligently to get you the financial compensation you deserve.

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Eric K. Washburn
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia