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What If I’m A Passenger In A Wreck?

Carpooling is a popular way of saving both time and money, and incentives are available in San Francisco for those willing to share a ride, either as a driver or a passenger. Through the San Mateo County’s Transportation Demand Management Agency, residents and commuters to the Bay Area can sign up for carpooling incentive programs and get rewards such as gift cards for gas, retail establishments, and local restaurants. This program and others like it aim to reduce the total number of cars being driven each day on San Francisco’s roads and highways, thereby cutting down on traffic while also benefiting the environment. For passengers who choose to let someone else take the wheel by carpooling, this means less time focusing on the road and more time to relax and enjoy the ride.

While being a passenger in a motor vehicle means you have none of the responsibilities that come with being a driver, you still assume all of the same risks in the event of an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were roughly 20,000 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in 2013, and another two million passengers occupants were injured in car crashes and collisions.  If you are a passenger who has been hurt or injured in a car accident, it is important to understand your rights in terms of receiving compensation for your injuries.

Compensation For Passengers In Car Accidents

Under Section 17150 of the California Vehicle Code, owners of motor vehicles are responsible for injuries they cause to other drivers as well as passengers, whether those passengers are riding in their vehicle or someone else’s. In the event of a car accident, passengers have several ways to pursue getting compensation for their injuries:

  • Filing an Insurance Claim: Injured passengers may be entitled to receive compensation through the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. All California drivers are required to maintain financial responsibility for any damages they cause, and this is usually in the form of liability insurance. This insurance covers other drivers as well as passengers who may be injured in an accident, and pays up to $15,000 for injuries caused in an accident, and up to $5,000 for any property damages that were suffered. In addition, many drivers carry additional insurance, such as collision and comprehensive coverage and uninsured/underinsured driver insurance which can also be used to help defray the costs of passenger injuries.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit: Under Section 3333 of the California Civil Code, drivers can be held legally responsible for any passenger car accident injuries that arise out of the driver’s reckless or negligent conduct. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, passengers injured in automobile accidents may be entitled to compensation for costs such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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