If you believe you have been injured while a passenger in a car accident, as a consequence of negligence, then you may well have a valid claim for compensation.
Common Injuries To Car Passengers
We know from previous compensation claims that there is an array of common injuries sustained by car passengers ranging from relatively minor to serious and life-threatening. These include:
- Head injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Broken bones
When you bear in mind the speeds which some drivers reach on the roads today it is no surprise to see car passenger injuries from relatively minor lacerations to life-threatening situations. If you have been involved in a road traffic accident it is advisable to request a medical examination as soon as possible even if you don’t immediately feel any pain. There are many occasions where injuries such as whiplash do not emerge until hours after the event once the adrenaline rush has subsided.
While legislation introduced by the UK government has addressed the issue of fraudulent whiplash claims, it is worth reminding ourselves that those with valid whiplash claims should always take legal advice. These regulations are not intended to block valid whiplash injury claims but instead making it as difficult as possible for fraudulent activity and milking of the legal costs system.
Responsibility For Car Accidents
In most car accidents there tends to be one or more negligent party involved who can often be pursued for compensation. Even though all road users, car passengers and pedestrians have an obligation to consider the safe well-being of other road users there are situations where negligence can lead to avoidable accidents. Those responsible for car accidents can vary, including:
While it tends to be the negligent actions of one driver that causes the majority of accidents, either the car with the passenger or another road user, there are cases where both parties have been negligent. This can lead to split negligence and a more complicated compensation claim.
Local And National Authorities
We have seen numerous instances where road traffic accidents have occurred as a consequence of substandard roads and highways. The national highways authority is responsible for motorways with local authorities responsible for other roads in their vicinity. If it can be proven that a substandard road was the reason for a car accident, resulting in passenger injuries, then the local/national authorities may well be held responsible. However, proving negligence beyond all reasonable doubt can prove challenging.
While most road traffic accidents, resulting in car passenger injuries, tend to revolve around drivers we have seen instances where pedestrians have acted unlawfully/irresponsibly resulting in accidents and injuries. Pedestrians have just as much of a legal obligation to ensure the safe well-being of drivers and other pedestrians as drivers do towards other road users.
Car Passenger Safety
If it can be proven that the driver fulfilled their legal obligations regarding the safety of passengers in their vehicle then it is unlikely they would be pursued for injury compensation.
There will be scenarios where a car passenger involved in an accident, while not using the appropriate restraint, is still able to sue for injuries. In this situation, assuming there was also negligence on behalf of one or more third parties, any claim would simply be reduced under “contributory negligence”. This tends to be an area of confusion because those injured while not restrained with the appropriate equipment tend to dismiss any potential claim even though they should still take the appropriate legal advice.
One area which tends to get overlooked in relation to car passenger injury compensation claims is that of faulty equipment. If it could be proven that the vehicle was defective in any way, the airbags were badly maintained or the seat belt caused an injury, then the car manufacturer, dealership or local garage may well be held partly responsible. Over the years we have seen instances where airbags have failed to inflate, leaving passengers with serious injuries. Indeed, there have also been situations where the initial explosion to inflate the airbag caused injury.
It will obviously depend upon the circumstances of the car accident and the condition of the vehicle as to whether faulty equipment could realistically be proven to be the reason for the accident/injuries.
What To Do In The Event Of A Road Traffic Accident
It goes without saying that all parties involved in a road traffic accident should seek medical assistance as soon as possible and also report the incident to the police. There will be occasions where the adrenaline rush can mask pain and injury which may only emerge hours or even days later si it is imperative that medical assistance is given to all parties involved.
However minor a car accident might seem it should be reported as this ensures that both medical assistance where required and details of the accident/injuries are noted by the police and medics. These third-party accounts can prove to be extremely strong evidence in a court of law if there is a valid car passenger injury claim.
Evidence Of Injury To Car Passengers
It will obviously depend upon the severity of injuries received as to whether the injured car passenger is able to gather additional evidence which could prove critical in a compensation claim. This evidence might include:
- Photographs of the vehicles involved and location
- Contact details for witnesses
- Insurance details of potentially negligent parties
- Details of all vehicles involved
- Dash cam recordings
If the injured party was unable to gather evidence from the scene it would be useful if a friend, witness or family member was able to assist. The more information gathered from the scene the easier it is to decide whether there is a valid car passenger compensation claim. As soon as possible, it is also imperative that the injured party records details prior to and post the car accident as well as injuries received. This timeline of events allows the claimant to give a wider picture to the courts and defendant when pursuing compensation.
Car Accident Solicitors
As car accidents are amongst the most common road traffic collisions in the UK, when it comes to compensation claims, most car accident solicitors will have a depth of experience in this area. It is advisable to arrange a consultation with a solicitor as soon as possible where you can present your evidence and timeline of events. There will be occasions where further medical examinations are required, to confirm any underlying injuries, but your solicitor will be able to arrange this at your convenience. Most car accident solicitors will process a car passenger injury claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
Even though no-win no-fee arrangements have received more than their fair share of negative comment over the years, they are an integral part of the personal injury claims industry. The standard arrangement ensures that the claimant is not liable for any legal fees accumulated by the solicitor when pursuing their claim. In exchange, the parties will discuss what is known as a “success fee” as payment for a successful outcome.
Lodging A Car Passenger Injury Claim
Once a car accident solicitor has been appointed to pursue injury compensation then it is simply a case of lodging the car passenger claim with the courts. This entails forwarding a report containing all evidence and a timeline of events, together with details of compensation being claimed, with a copy made available to the defendant.
The fact that the driver of the passengers car, any other third party vehicle, pedestrian or those in charge of the local highways could in theory be fully or partly responsible for an injury, can complicate some claims. If the defendant challenges the claim of negligence, or there is more than one party involved, the likelihood is that the claim will go before the courts where a judge will make a ruling after considering all evidence provided.
Compensation For Car Passenger Injury
There are two main types of compensation when it comes to car passenger injury claims which are known as general damages and special damages. If we look at general damages, they relate to financial compensation for the actual injuries and impact on a person’s life. This can take in various issues such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental trauma
- Life changing injuries
When calculating the general damages element of a claim there is a degree of discretion/variation to reflect the nature of each individual claim.
The second compensation type is known as special damages and is basically financial recompense for costs incurred and future costs directly related to the car passenger accident and subsequent injuries. To give you an idea, special damages can take in issues such as:
- Medical expenses past and future
- Loss of earnings past and future
- Additional transportation expenses
- Alterations to vehicles
- Adaptions to the home
Unlike general damages, there is no room for variation/discretion when it comes to special damages with estimates for future medical expenses, as one example, supplied to the courts by appropriately experienced parties.