What Are My Rights as a Passenger in a Car Accident in Texas?
You don’t expect a ride to end in an accident when you enter a vehicle as a passenger. Sadly, accidents happen when least expected, sometimes leading to severe injuries to passengers and drivers alike. The aftermath of a car accident can be traumatic, and understanding your rights after an accident can be the first step toward your physical and financial recovery.
A Skilled San Antonio motor vehicle accident attorney explains that Texas is an at-fault state for accident insurance. As a passenger, you’re not at fault for the accident, and if you sustained injuries, you have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver. You can file a claim for the economic and non-economic damages sustained. You also have the following rights:
- Request the names, phone numbers, and insurance information from the other car’s driver and passengers.
- Request the police report from the law enforcement officer at the scene.
- Decline to speak to insurance adjusters before consulting an attorney.
- Request compensation from the at-fault driver for your medical expenses resulting from the crash.
- File a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a San Antonio auto accident lawyer if the at-fault driver refuses to pay for your injuries or damages.
Who is Liable for the Accident?
Determining liability in car accident cases depends on the negligence standard. Some cases are clear, as the drivers and their insurance companies quickly agree on who was at fault. In other cases, more than one party could be liable for the crash, and drivers may disagree on who should pay the damages.
In that case, comparative negligence laws kick in, mostly in a lawsuit:
Under comparative negligence laws, compensation to car accident victims should be based on the proportionate responsibility of each driver. For example, investigations may reveal that one driver didn’t yield to a stop sign and the other was speeding.
In such a case, your auto accident attorney in San Antonio, with the help of insurance adjusters, would first establish each driver’s percentage of fault. That percentage would then be applied to the total amount that would fairly compensate you for the damages to determine what each driver would pay you.
A San Antonio car wreck injury lawyer can help you make claims against all the drivers found to have contributed to the accident. They can also fight to ensure you receive the maximum compensation your case deserves while protecting you from being shortchanged by insurance adjusters.
Can I Be Found Liable for a Car Accident As a Passenger?
Passengers have a duty of care, like drivers, even though they are not driving. The standard requires them to legally and ethically conduct themselves with reasonable prudence and safety. A violation of this standard could cause passengers to have a shared liability for a car accident if it is proven that they acted outside their duty of care.
Such actions include the following:
- Interfering with the vehicle, which includes attempting to grab the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands or playing with the emergency brake
- Encouraging or inciting the driver to drive recklessly
- Distracting the driver by arguing, hitting, or acting in a way that causes the driver to take their eyes off the road
- Reaching over to the driver’s foot and pressing it down to accelerate the car
- Covering the driver’s eyes for seconds
- Deliberately spilling food or drinks on the driver.
- Assaulting the driver or other passengers while the car is in traffic
- Trying to open the vehicle’s door while the car is moving
These behaviors are dangerous, and some drivers may react in a way that causes them to lose control of the vehicle. The impact of the crash could be severe, depending on the situation.
Will Insurance Pay for My Damages if I Am Found Liable for the Accident?
The at-fault driver’s liability insurance will cover the passenger’s damages, regardless of whether the passenger had any involvement in causing the crash. However, there are times when a passenger can be held partially liable and be sued for damages. A skilled San Antonio car accident attorney can advise you about your options in such a case.
What if the at-fault Driver of the Car I Was Riding in is a Family Member?
Unfortunately, your case may become complicated if you’re a family member of the driver who caused the accident. Insurance companies may refer to family member exclusion rules, which bar spouses, children, and other family members from making claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
However, Texas doesn’t enforce these rules up to the minimum amount of coverage mandated by the state. The state’s minimum liability requires insurance companies to honor injury claims involving family members up to the minimum limit. So, the driver’s status should not prevent you from taking action against them for their negligence.
A Skilled San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer Helping Passengers Pursue Compensation After an Accident
Passengers have a right to request compensation from the at-fault driver for injuries sustained in an accident. However, the outcome of their claim could substantially be affected if they are found to have contributed to the accident. If you’re a negligence-free passenger who suffered damages from the driver’s negligence, consult a skilled personal injury attorney in San Antonio.
They can provide legal guidance to help you understand your options. An experienced lawyer knows the evidence to present to insurance companies to help you collect the compensation you deserve. The auto accident attorney at The Law Office of Matthew S. Norris can work with you on your personal injury case and won’t rest until you get a fair settlement. Call us at (210) 361-3393 to schedule a FREE case assessment.