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How Are Injured Passengers Compensated in a Car Accident?

 Posted on June 28, 2019 in Car Accidents

Lake County Car Accident Compensation LawyerBoth drivers and passengers can be injured in a car crash, but which parties have a legal right to compensation for their injuries and who pays? The answer to this question depends on who is at fault, the specific terms of each driver’s insurance policy, and the financial resources of the at-fault party or parties. 

Example of an Illinois Car Accident: Whose Fault Was It?

Imagine two cars approaching an uncontrolled intersection from opposite directions. Each car contains a driver and a passenger. The first driver legally initiates a left turn, believing that he has time to clear the intersection before the oncoming car reaches him and assuming that the oncoming car will see him and slow down if necessary to avoid a collision. Instead, the oncoming driver crashes into the first car. The oncoming driver, it turns out, was over the legal limit for alcohol and was driving 10 mph over the speed limit at the time of the crash. Due to the angle of the crash, the passengers in both vehicles suffered severe injuries including brain trauma, lacerations, and broken bones. Both drivers also suffered serious injuries. 

Who is at fault? Most likely, the drunk driver will be judged 100 percent at fault for the accident.

Who is entitled to personal injury compensation? The at-fault driver is not eligible for compensation; that would be tantamount to suing yourself for self-inflicted damages. The other innocent driver and the passengers in both vehicles may claim compensation for damages including medical expenses not covered by insurance, long-term care costs, lost wages, permanent disability or disfigurement, and pain and suffering. 

Who is financially liable? Personal injury claims can be filed against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy and, if necessary, against the at-fault driver personally.

At-Fault Driver’s Bodily Injury Liability Insurance 

If you are injured as a passenger in a car accident in Illinois, and all involved drivers are Illinois residents with Illinois insurance policies, you will first file a claim for compensation with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. 

However, the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy may or may not cover all of your damages.

Illinois requires all car owners to carry bodily injury liability insurance of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, which pays out if the insured party is deemed to be at fault for causing the accident. Thus, if just one person is injured in an accident and their damages total $35,000, a mandatory minimum policy would only pay out a maximum of $25,000. If two or more people are injured, the policy would pay out a maximum of $50,000 that would be split amongst the injured parties.

Drivers with greater financial resources often carry more than the mandatory minimum liability coverage, knowing that they could be a target for a personal injury lawsuit. Affluent households often choose coverage amounts such as $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident. 

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage on Your Own Insurance

When the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may be able to file a claim for bodily injury compensation with your own auto insurance company. Check your auto insurance policy to see the amount of coverage you have under the category of uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury. This type of insurance may cover not only a vehicle’s driver but also their passengers. 

If a driver’s insurance policy includes medical payments coverage (MedPay), claims may also be filed against this part of the policy. 

Compensation From At-Fault Driver Personally

If insurance does not cover the full extent of a passenger’s injuries, and the at-fault driver is believed to have sizeable financial resources, a passenger may choose to that driver directly.

Call an Elite Lake County Car Accident Lawyer 

If you were injured as a passenger in a car crash, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries from more than one source. To understand your options, consult with an experienced Waukegan car accident attorney. Call the law offices of Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. at 847-662-3303.






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Contact a Lake County Vehicle Accident Attorney Who is Ready to Help You

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our office. Call 847-662-3303 to set up a free initial consultation at one of our four convenient locations. There is no risk because we only collect fees if you collect compensation. With offices in Libertyville, Waukegan, Richmond, and Chicago, we represent clients in Lake County, Cook County, DuPage County, and McHenry County.

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