If you have been involved in a car accident with passengers in your vehicle, you are likely concerned for their safety and well-being, in addition to your own. One question that comes to mind whenever other passengers are involved in an accident is what type of responsibility you, as the driver, holds over these individuals, specifically when it comes to their personal injuries or property damage.
Do you need to be the person filing a claim on their behalf, or should they be pursuing a claim through their own insurance company? We have asked a legal expert, attorney Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
If you are related to the passenger or live with him or her, he or she will already be considered an “insured” member under your policy. If the passenger is a minor child of yours, he or she will automatically be covered under your policy, and it would be a given that you would file a claim on behalf of your passenger.
Essentially, any family member or individual for whom you hold personal and legal responsibility, needs to be covered under your policy.
Further, if your passenger is your minor child, he or she will not be able to negotiate a claim on his or her own. You will need to be the person in charge of handling this claim on behalf of your child, even if this is under your policy or someone else’s policy.
Power of Attorney
Another situation where you would file an insurance claim on behalf of passengers in your car would be when you hold a power of attorney over the passenger. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives authority to another individual to make legal or financial decisions on behalf of a person who is incapacitated.
If the injured passenger is incapacitated, and you are the person designated as that passenger’s power of attorney, it would be in your authority to make an insurance claim on behalf of and for the benefit of the injured passenger.
The passenger always has the option to seek claims against the driver who was “at-fault” in the accident by filing a claim either against the policy of the driver or owner of the car he or she was riding in or the policy of the driver or owner of the other car involved.
This claim would be considered a “third party” claim since the insurance policy through which the passenger is seeking relief is not his or her own.
No Fault Insurance
For the twelve states that have “no-fault” insurance laws on the books, the passenger’s claim would be filed as a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or No-Fault claim against the driver, which would be you. Therefore, you could work with the passenger in filing a claim on your own No-Fault policy to assist with their injuries and expenses.
However, the claim would normally still need to be completed by the passenger and not you, unless one of the above circumstances are involved.
Recovery for the Passenger
Keep in mind, however, that if you are pursuing a claim on behalf of your passengers you are doing this for them and not you. Any money or compensation you receive will go towards making them whole and paying for their injuries. You need a reason to pursue claims for your passenger other than wanting to seek the money for yourself.
It goes without saying, of course, but not all claims are made in good faith and for the right purposes. Whatever you do, seek what is best for your passenger if this is what you choose to do. If you have any questions about the process or whether you should file a claim on behalf of your passenger, you should speak with a personal injury attorney.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been involved in a car accident where other passengers are involved and you have questions about whether you should file a claim on their behalf, you should contact an attorney today to discuss your case if you do not currently have a lawyer or have any questions.
A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. To receive the compensation for your medical bills, property damages, and pain and suffering, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.