Passengers injured in car accidents can frequently suffer more debilitating injuries than those experienced by the driver. This is because a person driving a vehicle will be paying attention to the traffic conditions around him or her and may often have a number of seconds to prepare themselves prior to an impact – even if the initial instinct to tense up is a subconscious action prompted by his or her peripheral vision.
Legally, being an injured passenger in a car accident generally puts a plaintiff in a very strong legal position but, as is outlined below, it is not always easy to claim injury compensation for car passengers, or to ensure that you receive a fair and sufficient settlement of compensation in relation to the validity of your car passenger injury claim.
Examples of Traffic Accidents involving Passengers
The most common occurrence of an accident in which a passenger may be injured is when they are travelling in a car which is struck from behind by another car – usually as a passenger in the front seat. Passengers in this situation are likely to suffer more severe symptoms of whiplash than a driver who has had a chance to brace for the initial impact of the collision – especially as a front seat passenger in Ireland is usually a female partner who will, most likely, have weaker neck muscles than her male driver.
Not every car accident involving passengers will involve a collision with a negligent driver, and there are several other cases in which you could claim compensation for passengers injured in car accidents. These include:-
A passenger in a vehicle where the driver of the vehicle is at fault for causing a traffic accident – regardless of whether anybody else is involved in the incident
A passenger in a car, who sustains an injury because of the poor condition of the road A taxi passenger, who could have an injury inflicted due to the negligent actions of the taxi driver or another driver on the road
Many passengers in traffic accidents are reluctant to make claims for passengers injured in car accidents if a friend or family member was the driver of the vehicle, and he or she may have been partially or completely at fault for causing the traffic accident. However, while the driver of the car concerned may lose their no claims bonus after a compensation claim is made to their insurance company, your car passenger injury claim will not cost them anything else. The compensation payment that is awarded for passengers injured in car accidents will not be paid by the negligent party, but by his or her car insurance company.
Steps to Follow after Being a Passenger in a Traffic Accident
The steps which you should follow after being the passenger in a traffic accident are going to depend on the causing factor in the car accident, the extent of the injuries you have suffered and those suffered by the driver. At this point in proceedings, you may have carried out many of these steps, but it is always wise to review the following list in case you have left out something which could strengthen your claim for being an injured passenger in a car accident.
Always Take Care of Your Health and Safety Always First
There is nothing more important than your own health and safety and if you – or another individual who was travelling along with you – were badly injured in the road accident, you should have called the emergency services. If the Gardai failed to come to the scene of the car accident, your call to them will still have been recorded and can be used as evidence by your legal representatives in your compensation claim for passengers injured in car accidents.
If less severe injuries were experienced, you should have still gone to the nearest Accident and Emergency department or made an emergency appointment to see your family doctor as soon as possible. Any questionable gap between when the accident occurred and when your injuries were logged in your medical history may lead the negligent party to contest your car passenger injury claim.
Carrying Out Post-Car Accident Formalities
In most cases, the exchange of details including names, addresses and insurance particulars will have been completed by the drivers of the cars involved in the accident. Double check that you have copies of these details if you did not collect them yourself at the time of the car traffic accident because, after a psychologically traumatic experience, passengers in car accidents do not always remember to complete their own post-car accident formalities.
If some of the details are missing or inaccurate – or you were the passenger in a road accident in which the driver at fault for causing the accident fled the scene without stopping – you should be able to employ the use of roadside cameras and CCTV to prove who the negligent party was, once an official report of your accident has been filed with the Gardai. If the negligent driver cannot be found, or is discovered to be uninsured when he is found, compensation claims for passengers injured in car accidents can be taken against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
Passengers in Car Accidents Making Official Reports
In the event that the Gardai did not call to the scene of your accident, every Garda station maintains a road traffic incident report book and, if the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling has not done so already, you should file an official report to the Gardai of the car accident as soon as you can.
The report should detail the names of those involved in the car accident, together with the car insurance particulars and registration numbers of the cars involved. The time, date and location of the road traffic accident should also be recorded in the report, and you should ensure that you keep a copy of the entry in the Gardia´s road traffic report book to provide to your solicitor. If the person that was driving the car in which you were travelling has already made this report, ask for a copy from him or her for your own records.
Making Compensation Claims for Traffic Accidents involving Passengers
Compensation claims for traffic accidents involving passengers are dealt with in the same way as those which involve drivers. All applications to assess compensation for an injured passenger in a car accident should still be made to the Injuries Board Ireland, even though an experienced solicitor will try to negotiate a quick and satisfactory damages settlement with the negligent party´s insurance company before the Injuries Board have finished their assessment.
The aim of starting an assessment of traffic accidents involving passengers is that, should liability for your injuries not be accepted or it is not possible to negotiate a satisfactory settlement of your car passenger injury claim, you will require an “Authorisation” from the Injuries Board to pursue your claim through the courts. It is rare that claims for traffic accidents involving passengers go to court however. If a court action is required, you will not have to wait for a long time for your claim for an injured passenger in a car crash to be resolved if the Authorisation has already been issued to you.
What Settlements do Passengers in Car Accidents Receive?
It was previously stated on this page that passengers in car accidents often experience more severe injuries than car drivers because they are denied that second of opportunity to brace themselves before an impact with another car. Theoretically, this should mean that a compensation claim for passengers injured in car accidents would lead to a higher level of compensation being made to a car passenger, but each claim for injury compensation for car passengers is assessed on its own individual merits.
Along with to being eligible to claim car passenger injury compensation for any physical injury you may have suffered, you will also be entitled to claim for the impact your injuries – both physical and mental – have made to your everyday quality of life. This means you should keep a journal to record all the times you are unable to take part in day-to-day activities, leisure and social pursuits, and show your journal to a solicitor who will estimate how much compensation for your “loss of amenity” you will be entitled to claim for.
You will also be able to claim for any loss of income, overtime and pension contributions and financial losses you have incurred which can be blamed on your accident and injuries. Therefore, if you were the passenger in a car accident who sustained identical injuries to the car driver, how much compensation you both receive could vary depending on what your careers were and how your injuries affected your ability to enjoy a full and healthy life.
Insurance Companies and Car Passenger Injury Compensation
Under no circumstance should you should try to speed up the resolution of your compensation claim for being an injured passenger in a car accident by talking with an insurance company directly. All insurance companies (including the MIBI) have the aim of minimising their costs as much as they can in order to maximise their profits. If you somehow inadvertently agreed to an offer of car passenger injury compensation from an insurance company, and it proved to be insufficient to account for your medical expenses or support your family, you cannot return to the insurers and ask for more money
Insurance companies often make direct and unsolicited approaches to accident victims when their client has been negligible in causing an accident – usually when the victim may be at their weakest and most vulnerable – and, should this type of direct approach be made to you, you should always advise your solicitor straight away.
Should you initially be tempted to agree to the insurance company’s offer of injury compensation for car passengers because of short-term financial costs you have to meet, again talk to your solicitor. By accepting their policyholder´s liability for the injuries you suffered, your solicitor can now apply for interim payments of injury compensation until your car passenger injury claim is satisfactorily resolved.
Advice From a Solicitor for Passengers in Car Traffic Accidents
Being in a strong legal position to make compensation claims for passengers injured in car accidents does not mean that you will receive a fair and sufficient settlement of your compensation claim. There is a high potential for compensation claims for traffic accidents involving passengers to be under-settled, and it is therefore always to your benefit to seek legal advice when you have been injured as a car passenger in a road accident due to another person’s negligence.
A lot of solicitors offer free independent and impartial counsel, without any obligation on you to go ahead with a car passenger injury claim for compensation, and it is wise that you should take advantage of this free legal counsel for car passengers in order to first ascertain that you have an injury compensation claim for car passengers which is worthwhile pursuing, and then to figure out the best way to handle your claim.
Summary: Passenger in a Car Accident Compensation Claims
- Car accident passengers can claim compensation if they are travelling as a passenger in a variety of different situations
- Compensation for passengers injured in car accidents is paid for by the insurance company of the negligence road user, local council or the MIBI
- The treatment of injuries and health of passengers in car accidents takes precedence over claims for car passengers in car accidents
- It is crucial, wherever possible, to collect names, addresses and insurance details of all other individuals involved in the car accident
- The amount of compensation passengers in car accidents will receive will depend on their individual circumstances
- You should not try to speed up settlements of injury compensation for car passengers by dealing directly with an insurance company and always seek legal counsel
It is important to note that no two cases are ever the same. If you have recently been a passenger involved in a car traffic accident and feel that you have a potential personal injury claim, you are advised to discuss all of the points raised in the above article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity you have.