You do not have to be a driver in a car accident to have grounds to file a personal injury claim. You can also bring a claim for your losses as an injured passenger. It is usually easier for a passenger to obtain compensation through an injury claim than a driver after a car accident. In general, you will not need to prove liability as you would have had you been driving the motor vehicle. If you need assistance with your claim as an injured passenger, contact a car accident attorney in Albuquerque.
Who Is Liable for Your Injuries as a Passenger?
New Mexico uses a fault-based car insurance system. Under this system, the driver at fault for causing the collision will be financially responsible for everyone else’s losses. If a driver crashed into the car you were riding in due to a distraction, drunkenness or drowsiness, for instance, that driver will owe you and other injured victims financial compensation.
During a typical car accident claim, the injured party trying to collect damages will have to prove the other driver’s fault. Since both drivers owed a duty of care to reasonably ensure the safety of others on the roadway at the time of the accident, both drivers would be under scrutiny for potentially breaching this duty of care and causing the wreck.
As an injured passenger, however, you are not subject to the same duties of care. You were not in control of the motor vehicle and thus had no control over whether or not the car crashed. An insurance company could not hold you liable for the crash except in rare circumstances, such as if you jerked the wheel out of the driver’s hand.
How to Make a Claim as a Passenger
You will file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company as an injured vehicle passenger. The fault for your auto accident may be obvious, or it may require an in-depth investigation. If neither driver is accepting the blame for the crash, both drivers’ insurance companies will investigate. In the meantime, the auto insurance of the person whose vehicle you were in will cover your initial medical bills and costs.
Since you were not at fault for the accident, your driver’s insurance policy will cover your losses. Every driver in New Mexico must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person, $50,000 per accident and $10,000 in property damage liability insurance. This insurance will cover your losses as someone not at fault for the collision. Then, if an investigation finds the other driver is at fault for the crash, the insurance company will seek reimbursement for what it paid you through a process called insurance subrogation.
Some cases involve the shared fault of both drivers. If an insurance investigation allocates a portion of fault to both drivers, you and your personal injury lawyer can negotiate settlements from both insurance companies. In many cases, a passenger will have no problem settling an insurance claim. If neither side wants to settle, however, it could be more difficult to obtain fair compensation. A liability dispute between both drivers’ insurance companies could delay your settlement. You could also encounter problems if more than one passenger was injured, as the liable party may not have enough insurance to cover everyone.
Contact an Attorney for Assistance
If you run into issues making a claim as an injured passenger after a car accident in Albuquerque, contact an attorney for advice about your legal rights. You may need a car accident lawyer to represent you if you are struggling to obtain fair compensation from one or both drivers’ insurance companies. A lawyer can represent you to ensure the protection of your rights as an injured passenger in New Mexico.