When you are involved in a car accident as a passenger, you are legally entitled to recover compensation from any at-fault drivers. In some cases, that may be the driver of your vehicle. In other cases, it may be the driver of another vehicle and/or a combination of drivers based on their respective percentage of fault.
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., our legal team is dedicated to helping you recover the compensation you deserve from any at-fault parties after a car accident.
Car Accident Claims When Your Driver is At Fault
Usually, as a passenger of a vehicle, your driver is a friend, family member, or co-worker. Sometimes, that person may be at fault or partially at fault in causing a collision. In that situation, you may be hesitant to file a claim or take legal action against your friend or family member. You may believe that filing a claim is not worth the cost of your personal relationship.
While this may be true, you should remember that filing a claim does not mean you’re seeking compensation directly from your friend or family member. Instead, their insurance company is responsible for covering your losses. This is the entire purpose of car insurance. It is designed to ensure that victims of a car accident will be compensated for their losses. At the same time, it protects the driver and ensures that they do not have to take on the financial burden of an accident they caused.
If you ultimately decide not to move forward with a claim, the auto insurance company essentially gets a “free pass.” In these situations, you are not helping your friend or family member save money. Instead, you are helping the insurance carrier to increase its profits. Another thing to remember is that the vast majority of car accident claims are settled out of court, so no legal action is ever required against your friend or family member (unless you so choose).
The “Family Exclusion” in Most Auto Insurance Policies
In Illinois, as an injured passenger, you have the right to recover compensation from an at-fault driver for your injuries and losses after an accident. However, most auto insurance policies have exclusions known as“family exclusions” or “household exclusions”. The family exclusion clause keeps a family member who lives in the same household from suing someone in their household. For example, a husband whose wife is driving can’t sue his wife if her negligence causes an accident. These family exclusion clauses are frequently upheld by Illinois courts but depend on the particular circumstances and language in the policy.
In the above example, the at-fault spouse is typically considered to be uninsured even though they have valid insurance. In that situation, the uninsured motorist provisions in the policy will apply, and the injuries and losses will be covered as an uninsured motorist claim. Uninsured motorist claims are resolved in an arbitration setting rather than in court, although most claims are able to be resolved by way of settlement.
Given the complexities involved in passenger injury claims, especially when a family member is driving, it is critical to retain an experienced and effective personal injury attorney to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses. If you have questions or are hesitant to file an injury claim when a friend or family member is driving, we encourage to you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your situation and what options are available to you.
Types of Compensation You Can Receive as a Passenger in a Chicago Car Accident
The specific amount you can recover from your Chicago car accident claim depends on the facts of your case, legal issues, and insurance coverage. Some of the types of damages we can help you recover include:
Compensation for Medical Bills
All related past and future medical costs that you incur due to treatment required for your injury, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, assistive devices, rehabilitation, and medication, are included.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Compensation for all mental and physical suffering you experience because of your car accident can be recovered.
Compensation for Lost Income
All the past and future wages that you lose due to your injuries will keep you from being able to work and earn money to pay your expenses, and care for your family can be recovered. The compensation can include income, benefits, commissions, and bonuses.
Punitive damages are designed to punish someone for egregious misconduct in addition to the normal damages. It is often awarded in drunk driving cases and cases involving other reckless behavior.
Damages for Wrongful Death
If you have a family member who passes away because of a car accident, it may be possible to recover for all related medical costs, pain and suffering by the decedent, as well as:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Funeral and burial costs
Contact Our Legal Team for Help with Your Passenger Accident Case
If you have been injured in a car accident as a passenger and are considering filing a claim to receive compensation, we recommend that you contact us right away. Our team will review and investigate the facts of your case and get to work right away to build a strong case. We will fight aggressively on your behalf to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation possible. The first step is to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.