What if I Was a Passenger in the Car Accident?

If you are in a car as a passenger, you always hope for a safe journey. Unfortunately, accidents are a reality, and in New York, over 300 car crashes occurred daily last year. Additionally, recent data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals a 25% increase in passenger accidents leading to yearly fatalities in the state.

As a passenger in a car crash, you have the option to file a lawsuit or a personal injury claim. You can submit a claim or lawsuit against your driver’s insurance if they’re at fault. If your driver is not responsible, you can submit a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance policy. In cases where both drivers share blame, you can pursue a lawsuit against both in court to seek compensation.

According to New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules section 214, anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident, such as a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian, must file a lawsuit within 3 years of the accident.For assistance with your car accident claim in New York, reach out to Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, the New York car accident lawyers. Our dedicated team is ready to guide you on when and how to make your claim as a passenger. Call us at 917-540-8728 for a free consultation, and let us help you maximize your chances of compensation for your damages.

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Filing a Claim in a Car Accident as a Passenger

You can file a claim if you’re injured or your property undergoes damage in a car accident as a passenger. To do this, you have three options:

  • Filing a claim with your driver’s insurance policy
  • Making a claim with your own insurance company
  • Submitting a claim with the other driver’s insurance company

Your Driver’s Insurance Policy

If the driver of the vehicle you’re in is at fault, you can submit a car accident claim from their insurance company. The claim includes compensation for medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. In New York, under a no-fault system, you can submit a claim within 30 days against the driver’s insurance through their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) plan. In New York City, it’s mandatory for drivers to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in their auto insurance. If the drivers have PIP coverage, their insurance company automatically covers their expenses, no matter who caused the accident. The minimum liability insurance in NYC includes:

  • $25,000/$50,000 for each person’s bodily injury
  • $50,000/$100,000 for wrongful death
  • $10,000 for property damage per accident

Note: Your PIP coverage matches the minimum amount of liability insurance you have, ensuring your PIP coverage will cover the same amounts. To find out the minimum insurance requirements mandated by New York laws, you can visit the Department of Motor Vehicle website for detailed information.  

However, in New York, you can only file a lawsuit if you prove you suffered a serious injury. Meeting this serious injury threshold is necessary to pursue a case in court against the negligent party.

Using Your Own Insurance Policy

You have the option to initiate a claim with your personal insurance provider and use both your health and car insurance policy to pursue compensation for medical costs, lost income or wages, and pain and suffering.

Therefore, by adding Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage into your policy, you can handle these losses, even when you’re a passenger. PIP and MedPay are valuable additions to your insurance, offering coverage for immediate medical bills.

However, both PIP and MedPay have limits and do not cover accidents of more than $50,000. But having them in your auto insurance policy provides a crucial financial safety net. 

Medpay may be more affordable than PIP, but it doesn’t cover pain and suffering expenses like PIP does. Additionally, while health insurance can cover medical expenses, there may be deductibles or instances where you have to return the amount your health insurance company paid on your behalf.

Other Driver’s Insurance Company

If the other driver caused the car crash, you can file a claim (30-day deadline) or personal injury lawsuit against them in New York. In NYC state, the deadline for filing a lawsuit is 3 years from the accident date. However, getting compensation isn’t always straightforward. 

To file a lawsuit, you must prove the other driver’s negligence and your serious injury threshold in New York. This can complicate things, especially if there are multiple drivers involved. 

Additionally, some drivers might not have insurance coverage to pay for the damages. In such cases, if you have uninsured motorist insurance (UIM) in your policy, you can use it to cover your costs.

Therefore, to figure out the best option for your situation, it’s wise to talk to a car accident lawyer. They can guide you through the process, help you understand your choices, and ensure you take the right steps for your case.

What’s the Serious Injury Threshold in New York?

According to the New York Insurance Law § 5104, Article 51, if you’re injured in a personal injury case due to negligence in an auto accident, you need to show either that your basic financial loss is more than $50,000 or that you’ve suffered a “serious injury,” defined as:

  1. Death
  2. Dismemberment
  3. Significant disfigurement
  4. Fracture
  5. Fetus loss
  6. Permanent loss of use of a body organ, function, or system
  7. Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ
  8. Limitation of use of a body function or system
  9. Medical injury or any damage of a non-permanent nature that prevents you from doing most of your daily activities for at least 90 days within the first 180 days after the injury.

Other Considerations as a Passenger in a Car Collision

As a passenger in a car crash, there are additional things to think about, especially if the driver with whom you take a ride is a family member or your spouse. However, it’s worth noting that you can still file a compensation claim. And it’s important to note that you file the claim against their insurance company, not your family member.

This process doesn’t mean you’re taking legal action against your loved one or extended family member; it’s just a way to seek compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. 

Therefore, to make sure you understand your rights and handle things correctly, it’s a good idea to get help from a car accident lawyer. Contact Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, for guidance on your rights as a passenger and how to get the compensation you’re entitled to.

What Steps Should I Take as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a passenger in a car accident, it’s vital to respond thoughtfully. Therefore, you can take the following steps, such as:

1. Prioritize Your Safety and Move to a Safe Location

According to the NYPD, ensuring your safety is the top priority, and for this, you must: 

  • Move to a nearby park for immediate safety.
  • Check yourself for injuries.
  • If you can’t move your vehicle and need medical help, call 911 and follow their guidance.
  • If your vehicle is still operational and no one is injured, relocate to a secure spot like the shoulder, median, or rightmost lane. Therefore, this protects you from incoming traffic, gives way to other drivers, and makes it easier for emergency responders to locate you if needed.

2. Contact the Police or Call 911

If you’re in a car accident with significant damage or injuries, call the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get an official report. However, if it’s just property damage, you don’t need to file an accident report. Just exchange information like driver’s license, insurance, and car registration with the other drivers.

Furthermore, to file a claim or for insurance purposes, file an accident report to the (DMV) Department of Motor Vehicles. Find the form online or in your local police area.

Note: The accident report must be filed within 10 days if property damage exceeds $1000 to any person. Not doing so may lead to license suspension.

Under the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, leaving the scene without sharing your information with other motorists is illegal. Thus, you should stay and contact the police ASAP if:

  • Someone is hurt, injured, or killed.
  • A domestic animal is injured or killed.
  • You damage a parked vehicle or property and can’t find the owner.

3. Collecting Evidence at the Accident Scene

Gather essential information from the responsible party. Ensure you collect the liable driver’s complete name, contact details, insurance company name, insurance policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number. 

Furthermore, if there are witnesses at the scene, obtain their full names and contact numbers and consider recording their statements to prove your case.

Document the incident thoroughly by taking photos of the accident scene, property damage, and any debris. Take videos to provide an overview of the sequence of events. Similarly, capture images or footage of injuries sustained by both yourself and the other driver. Thus, this will show the seriousness of your injuries and their impact on your daily life.

Additionally, maintain a detailed journal to record your recollection of the accident. Memories can fade, and you can forget minor details, making a journal is a valuable tool for preserving the events accurately. 

This documentation will strengthen your position when dealing with insurance companies, judges, or a jury in court. Consider getting a car accident lawyer. They can help you organize and strengthen your case with the right evidence.

4. Call Your Doctor and Seek Medical Attention

Even if you feel okay after an incident, it’s smart to see a doctor because some injuries might not show up right away, such as whiplash. Furthermore, make sure you get detailed reports on your health. This is important because if you skip medical attention and your health reports, insurance companies could deny your claim.

Moreover, they might also say you’re exaggerating your injuries. Therefore, keep a clear record of all your medical treatments to support your claim and avoid any doubts from the insurance company.

5. Consulting a Lawyer Is a Must

If you get hurt in a car crash as a passenger, it’s crucial to consult with a lawyer immediately. Your first and foremost priority should be hiring an experienced attorney for the best possible outcome in your accident case. Thus, a car accident lawyer can help you determine who is at fault for your car crash. This is crucial for securing a fair compensation amount and ensuring that the responsible party is held accountable for their actions.

Furthermore, dealing with insurance companies is a complex process, and you have to deal with multiple insurance providers. A car accident attorney can navigate the claims process and help you achieve the best possible outcome while you focus on your recovery.Click to contact Uptown Injury New York car accident attorneys to seek the highest compensation for your claim.

Car accidents with a passenger in a car personal injury case

Types of Compensation You Can Seek as a Passenger

If you’re hurt in a car crash, you can seek two types of damages like economic and non-economic. Economic damages have monetary value, like medical bills, lost wages, or property damage. Conversely, non-economic damages don’t have clear monetary value because no one can put a price on long-term disabilities and mental anguish caused by the accident. These include:

  1. Pain and Suffering, Emotional Distress: The mental and emotional toll from the accident.
  2. Loss of Consortium and Companionship: The impact on your relationship, i.e., with your spouse. 
  3. Difficulty With Household Chores, Needing to Hire Help: If the accident makes it hard for you to do everyday tasks.
  4. Loss of Any Body Part, Internal Organ, or Bodily Function: The physical toll on your body.
  5. Severe Burns or Disfigurement: Permanent changes to your appearance.
  6. Loss of Quality of Life: How your life has become worse.
  7. Amputation of a Limb or Digit: Losing a body part.
  8. Loss of Enjoyment of Life: The things you can’t do anymore that used to bring you joy.

These non-economic damages reflect the intangible losses you’ve experienced from the accident. Thus, talk to a personal injury lawyer to collect evidence and secure the highest possible compensation for your losses.

Were You Hit in a Car Accident? Contact Uptown Injury

If you’re injured as a passenger in a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. At Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, you can trust our team of New York car accident lawyers to handle all the paperwork, negotiations, and court proceedings on your behalf.

With more than 15 years of experience, our skilled car accident lawyers have secured $100 million in settlements and verdicts. Your health, well-being, and financial security matter to us. With our contingency fee policy, you pay us nothing unless we win your case, which means you have nothing to lose but gain everything you need to make informed decisions.Contact us or call 917-540-8728 to schedule your FREE legal consultation today.


What Should I Do After a Car Accident as a Passenger?

First, ensure your safety and check for injuries. Then, call 911 to report your accident and seek medical attention for yourself and others if involved. Moreover, you must also exchange information with the other drivers.

Who Should I Contact to Cover My Medical Expenses as a Passenger?

If you’re in a car accident, you should reach out to three key parties to cover your medical costs: the insurance company of the driver you’re with, your own insurance company, and the insurance company of the other driver. Additionally, in case the other driver doesn’t have insurance coverage, you can tap into your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) from your own auto insurance policy.

Can I File Any Lawsuit if I’m Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

Yes, you can. If your accident resulted from someone else’s negligence. In that case, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party, even if it’s the driver of the vehicle you were riding. 

Should I Provide a Statement to the Insurance Companies?

No. It’s advisable to consult with a personal injury lawyer before providing any statement to insurance companies because anything could be used against you. Hence, it’s best to let your lawyer handle the process and ensure your rights are protected.

What if I Don’t Know Who Is at Fault for the Accident?

If you’re unsure about liability, your car accident lawyer and the insurance company will investigate your car crash to determine who is at fault. This process can involve reviewing police reports, gathering witness statements, and evaluating other necessary evidence.

Can I Get Compensation for Emotional Distress as a Passenger?

Yes, you are eligible to seek compensation for emotional distress if you’ve sustained injuries in an auto accident. Thus, it’s advisable to consult a car accident lawyer to determine the accurate value of your claim.

Do I Need an Attorney if I Am a Passenger in a Car Accident?

Yes, having an experienced personal injury attorney can significantly benefit your case. A lawyer can help you navigate legal complexities, negotiate with insurance companies, and work to maximize your compensation.

What if the Driver of the Car Is My Friend or Family Member?

In such cases, you have to deal with your friend or family member’s insurance company. Furthermore, you have to make sure that your claim is against their insurance policy, not them personally. This will help you get fair compensation without losing personal relationships.


Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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