Legal Rights of Injured Passengers in Illinois

Published on  Dec 29, 2015. Posted in Car Accidents

When two or more vehicles are involved in an accident in Illinois, each driver must notify his or her insurance company to begin the process of filing a claim, determining fault and securing coverage for any damage or personal injury. An injured passenger is in a unique position, though, and their legal rights and options aren’t always clear.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that statewide traffic-related fatalities haven’t exceeded 1,000 since 2008. However, more than 61,000 accidents caused injuries last year, and 22,000 passengers were among the injured. These passengers may receive insurance compensation in a few different ways.

Securing Insurance Coverage

If a passenger is related to a driver who shared fault, they will be covered as an “insured person”. If a passenger is unrelated to the driver, they may be covered as an “uninsured person” or file a claim through their own insurance carrier’s medical payment or personal injury protection coverage. However, these policies don’t include coverage for pain and suffering, lost wages or any other common consequence of a traumatic auto accident.

Because passengers are never at fault in an auto accident, they may prefer to file a claim against a driver’s insurance provider instead. In Illinois, injured passengers have a legal right to receive liability compensation from one or both drivers’ insurance companies.

According to USA Today, no state has more auto insurance carriers than Illinois. However, a competitive marketplace is no guarantee that passengers will receive full, fair or speedy compensation after filing auto accident injury claims. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that often attempt to settle claims quickly and pay as little as possible. A car accident attorney can help passengers prove legal liability or negligence.

Suing for Negligence

When driver negligence causes car accident injuries, each injured person may hire an attorney to pursue a claim of negligence or prove legal liability. The same attorney may represent both the passenger and their driver, as long as their interests don’t conflict. Under some circumstances, both parties may even sue the at-fault driver’s insurance agent for failing to obtain uninsured driver coverage for them.

Before a passenger makes a statement, signs any paperwork or accepts any monetary settlement from an insurance carrier, they should consult a car accident lawyer to learn about their legal options. The full extent of an injury may not be immediately apparent, and attorneys know how to navigate legal specifics.