Can You Sue the Driver if You Were Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

April 7, 2022 | Car Accidents

The last thing you expect if you are the passenger inside of a vehicle is that you will sustain injuries in a vehicle accident. However, accidents occur, and passengers are injured all the time. But can you file a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle you were in if you sustained an injury in an accident? The answer to that is “probably,” particularly if the driver was responsible for causing the accident. Here, we want to look at the various routes of securing compensation if you were the passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident.

Securing Compensation Through Insurance Carriers

Most car accident injury and property damage claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers in Indiana. The reality is that settling a claim through auto insurance carriers is usually more efficient and keeps the court system from becoming clogged with injury claims. This holds true for incidents involving passenger injuries.

Typically, an insurance settlement is made within a few weeks or a few months after an accident occurs, and will offer some type of payment for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages. However, insurance carriers are notoriously difficult to deal with in this state, and they are going to push back from having to pay out compensation.

As a passenger, you may have a claim against one driver’s insurance carrier or multiple drivers’ insurance carriers. The good news is that passengers are rarely at-fault for a crash, so they should receive compensation no matter what. Typically, the insurance carriers involved will sort out who pays for passenger injuries. 

There are various reasons why insurance carriers delay or deny claims, but it usually boils down to the fact that these are for-profit entities that look to pad their bottom line when they can. This is often done at the expense of a car accident injury victim.

Filing a Lawsuit to Recover Compensation

In the event an insurance carrier delays a settlement, refuses to offer a fair settlement, or denies the claim altogether, it may be necessary for a car accident passenger in Indiana to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent driver.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is different from seeking a settlement from an insurance carrier, even though the carrier may be named in the lawsuit. Lawsuits are filed by the injury victim and their Indianapolis personal injury attorney in civil court against the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier. Even after a lawsuit is filed, it is still unlikely that the claim will go all the way to a jury trial. Lawsuit filings typically initiate a discovery process where information and evidence will be exchanged by both parties. Typically, negotiations will continue throughout this process in an attempt to reach a settlement before a trial becomes necessary.

However, in the event the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the case will need to move forward to a trial by jury. It is important to point out that Indiana has a personal injury statute of limitations of two years. This means that car accident injury victims have a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent driver in order to recover compensation. Failing to file a lawsuit within this time frame will mean that the injury victim becomes unable to recover the compensation they are entitled to.

Ultimately, the goal is for a car accident passenger in Indiana to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering losses.