Passenger Injury Accidents 

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Passenger Injury Accidents 

When a car accident occurs, all occupants of the vehicle, including passengers, are susceptible to injuries.  In fact, front-seat passengers are just as likely to be seriously injured as drivers.

Even those passengers who are riding in the back seat of a vehicle are at risk of injuries, depending on the type of accident they are involved in. As a passenger, you may not know what rights you have after an accident. After all, if you aren’t the driver, you may believe the laws may apply to you differently.  While there are many similarities between the legal rights of a driver and a passenger, there are some critical distinctions.  Here, we’ll discuss what rights you may have if you have been involved in an accident as a passenger.

At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we understand the confusion and stress accompanying a car accident for all involved, including passengers. As experienced Minnesota car accident attorneys, we can help you understand your rights and ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.

Common Passenger Injuries in Minneapolis Car Accidents

There are many types of injuries that a passenger may sustain as the result of a car accident.  However, the most common passenger injuries we see our clients sustain include:

  • Whiplash: A neck injury that occurs due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement, leading to pain and restricted movement.  Whiplash injuries can cause injuries to the facet joints in your spine, as well as your discs.  Herniated discs can press on your nerves causing radiating pain, numbness and tingling.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): Injuries to the brain range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, affecting cognitive functions and overall quality of life.
  • Broken Bones and Fractures: These occur as a result of substantial force put upon your bones, leading to a fracture or break.  These often involve arms, legs, and ribs, impairing mobility and sometimes requiring surgery and significant recovery time.
  • Internal Injuries: Such as organ damage or internal bleeding, which might not be immediately noticeable but have serious long-term health implications.

These injuries can cause significant disruptions to your life, and leave you with substantial medical expenses and wage loss.

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Understanding Your Rights as a Passenger

In Minnesota, the law provides certain protections to passengers just as it does drivers. If you have been injured in a car accident as a passenger, you have the legal right to seek compensation through different types of insurance claims.  These claims include a no-fault claim, made against either your own insurance company or the insurance company for the vehicle you were occupying at the time of the accident, and a claim against any at fault drivers and their insurance companies.

No-Fault Insurance in Minnesota

Minnesota is a no-fault state, meaning every driver must have personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their insurance.

This coverage extends to passengers injured in motor vehicle accidents.  No-fault coverage provides immediate protection regardless of who is at fault for the accident. No-fault can cover medical bills, lost earnings, and out-of-pocket expenses up to the policy’s limit.

The following requirements are in place for PIP coverage for those who have been involved in an accident:

  • $20,000 in medical expenses and mileage; and
  • $20,000 for wage loss/replacement services.

Where you obtain no-fault benefits will depend on the specific facts of your case.  As a passenger, you will always first go to your own insurance policy, even if you are not occupying your vehicle at the time of the accident.  If you don’t have your own insurance policy, you will then look any resident relative’s insurance policies.  If there is no such applicable policy, then you will go to the insurance policy on the occupied vehicle at the time of the crash.

As you can see, determining where to obtain no-fault benefits can be confusing, so it is important to talk with an experienced Minnesota car accident attorney to ensure your claims are set up appropriately.

Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver

In some situations, passengers who have been injured in a car accident can step outside the no-fault system and bring a claim against any driver or drivers who were at fault for causing the accident.  In order to have the right to pursue a claim against the at fault driver, the injured passenger must meet one of five “thresholds” established my Minnesota law.  These thresholds include:

  1. A death;
  2. A scar or disfigurement;
  3. 60 days or more of disability;
  4. Greater than $4,000 in medical expenses (excluding the cost of diagnostic imaging); or
  5. A permanent injury.

If a “threshold” has been met, you have the right to pursue a claim against any at fault drivers.  Through this claim, you are able to recover any past and future medical expenses and wage loss that was not covered by your no-fault claim, as well as compensation for your past and future pain, suffering, and emotional distress.

There are many complicating factors that may arise in pursuing a claim against the at-fault drivers, including proving damages, and assessment of fault.  At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we specialize in navigating these complexities and can guide you through filing a claim, ensuring your rights are fully protected.

Determining Liability for Passenger Injuries

Passenger Injury Accidents 

Understanding who is at fault in a car accident involving passenger injuries is a necessary part of protecting your rights after an accident.  As a passenger, you typically will not have any fault in causing the accident.  The fault will typically fall on two possible parties:

  • The Driver of the Vehicle You Were In: If negligence, such as distracted driving, speeding, or driving under the influence, contributed to the accident, the vehicle you were in can be held liable.
  • The Driver of Another Vehicle: Similar to above, if another vehicle’s driver’s negligence caused the accident, they can be held responsible for your injuries.

Sometimes, a percentage of the fault will fall on both parties.  Identifying and proving liability requires a detailed investigation and understanding of Minneapolis traffic laws. At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, our Minneapolis passenger injury attorneys use our expertise and resources to analyze each accident’s circumstances.

Our goal is to ensure that liability is accurately determined and that our clients are compensated for their injuries by the responsible parties.

Types of Compensation Passengers May be Entitled to

Passengers injured in car accidents may be eligible for various types of compensation to cover economic and non-economic damages.

Some of the common types of compensation available to passengers injured in car accident cases include:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes compensation for current and future medical bills related to car accident injuries, such as hospital stays, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, and other medical treatments.
  • Lost Wages: If the injury has resulted in time away from work, compensation for lost wages can be claimed. This includes loss of earning capacity if the injuries prevent the passenger from returning to their previous job or working in the same capacity as before the accident.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and suffering covers the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the injuries. This can also include compensation for loss of enjoyment of life and any future pain or suffering.
  • Loss of Consortium: In cases where the passenger’s injuries affect their relationship with their spouse, compensation for loss of consortium may be applicable.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases where the negligence was particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter similar future conduct.

At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we understand the complexities of securing the compensation our clients deserve. We work tirelessly to assess all possible avenues for compensation, advocating for our clients to ensure they receive the support necessary for their recovery and rehabilitation.

Call us today at  320-216-7651 or contact us online using our free and secure submission form. We are available 24/7 to assist you and offer FREE initial consultations.

Protect Your Rights as an Injured Passenger

If you have been injured as a passenger in a Minnesota car accident, we are here to help. Our team will work on your case immediately to help you recover the full compensation you deserve.

The first step is to contact our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced passenger injury lawyer in Minneapolis.

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