What Are Passengers’ Rights After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

Feb 17, 2023 - Car Accidents

When you are involved in a car accident as a passenger, it is important to make sure you have a clear understanding of your legal rights. It is also important to make sure you know what you need to do in order to protect your legal rights—as you can easily lose them if you aren’t careful.

Fundamentally, your legal rights after a car accident in Pennsylvania are the same regardless of whether you were in a passenger seat or behind the wheel. If someone else was at fault in the accident, you can—and should—file a claim to recover just compensation.

Filing a Claim After Being Injured as a Passenger

However, your legal rights as a passenger are also somewhat unique in that you may have a claim against the driver of the vehicle in which you were riding. As a result, while the driver may not have a fault-based claim if he or she caused the accident, you may still be able to file a claim under his or her insurance policy.

If you were riding with a friend or family member who caused an accident, you should not feel bad about filing a claim with his or her insurance company. Even if you have good health insurance coverage (or your own auto insurance coverage), this won’t necessarily cover all of the long-term costs of your injuries. Plus, this scenario is exactly what auto insurance is for, and your friend or family member will almost certainly want you to take advantage of the coverage he or she has available.

This is just one possible scenario. If the driver with whom you were riding was not at fault in the accident, you may also have a claim (or claims) against:

  • The Other Driver – If the other driver was at fault in the accident, you should be able to file a claim under this driver’s insurance policy. Pennsylvania law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, so the driver who caused the accident should have coverage.
  • The Other Driver’s Employer – If the other driver was working at the time of the accident, you could have a claim against his or her employer. Or, if you got hit by a rideshare driver, you could have a claim against the rideshare company. Employers can be held liable for their employees’ negligence in many cases, and the major rideshare companies have insurance that covers their drivers’ accidents.
  • A Vehicle Manufacturer, Dealership or Repair Shop – If the accident resulted from a vehicle defect or your injuries resulted from a defective seatbelt or airbag, you could have a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer or the dealership that sold it. If negligent service or a faulty repair was to blame, then the shop that worked on the vehicle in question could be liable.
  • A Government Agency or Contractor – Car accident victims can file claims against the government when an issue with the road leads to their injuries. In many cases, the contractors that government agencies hire to build and maintain public roads can be held liable as well.

What about your own auto insurance? If you have medical benefits or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage under your auto insurance policy, you should be able to use this coverage after being injured as a passenger—if you need it. Of course, you will want to avoid dealing with your own insurance company if you can avoid it. But, in some circumstances, this may be the best (or only) option you have available.

5 Tips for Protecting Your Rights as an Injured Passenger in Pennsylvania

Regardless of the type of claim (or types of claims) you can file, there are some important steps you need to take and some costly mistakes you need to avoid. Here are five tips from our attorneys:  

1. Take Photos, Videos and Notes

You should try to document your claim (or claims) as thoroughly as possible. Take photos and videos if you can, and write down as many details as you can remember. While you will want to share your photos, videos and notes with your attorney, you should not share them with the insurance companies.  

2. Get the Medical Treatment You Need

When seeking financial compensation for a car accident as a passenger, it is important to promptly get the medical treatment you need. If you wait to see a doctor, this may make it more difficult to prove that you suffered your injuries in the accident. If you can’t prove that your injuries are accident-related, you won’t be able to collect the financial compensation you deserve.

3. Do Not Ignore the Need to File a Claim

The costs of accident-related injuries can accumulate quickly, and, for many people, they can quickly get out of hand. If you have a claim, filing your claim could be important for your long-term physical health, emotional well-being and financial stability.

4. Do Not Let the Insurance Companies Take Advantage of You

If you try to deal with the insurance companies on your own, they will try to take advantage of you. This is just the reality of the situation. If you are not careful, and if you do not hire a lawyer to calculate the long-term financial and non-financial costs of the accident, you will not receive just compensation for your injuries.

5. Get Help from a Local Attorney

Given the various challenges involved in protecting your legal rights as an injured passenger, it is best to get help from an experienced local attorney. When you hire an attorney to represent you, your attorney will deal with the insurance companies for you, and your attorney will help you make an informed decision about when (and if) to settle.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation Today

With offices in Doylestown, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Stroudsburg, we represent car accident victims throughout Pennsylvania. If you were injured in a collision while riding in a car, truck or SUV as a passenger, we can help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. To speak with an experienced lawyer about your legal rights in confidence, call us at 888-777-7098 or request a free consultation online today.

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"About two years ago, I had a car accident in Bethlehem and got injured. Some of the other lawyers did not want to look at my case because of my low insurance. I finally found Drake, Hileman & Davis. They did their best to defend my rights. Finally I got what I want (considerable amount of compensation) with the great help of the company. Thank you so much for the excellent service."
Posted By: Muammer Durak

Drake, Hileman & Davis

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