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What to Do as an Injured Passenger 

Mohammadi & Humayun, LLC Dec. 29, 2022

Couple Involved In Car Crash With Female DriverFew things in life are fully within our control. When we experience trauma like being involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it can be hard to know what our next steps will be. If you weren’t the driver of the car, this can be an even more difficult road to navigate. Knowing what to do if you were injured in a car accident as a passenger is essential information for everyone to know, and it can help you with recovering expenses or paying off any medical bills resulting from the accident. 

If you’d like to speak with a car accident attorney about a recent crash you were in, reach out to us at Mohammadi & Humayun, LLC. Our office is in Rockville, Maryland, but we’re proud to represent clients in Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Howard County, Fredrick County, and the rest of the state. 

Fault Determination  

The first thing to understand about being involved in any kind of accident is how your state determines how claims should be filed. Maryland is what’s known as an “at-fault state” which means that whoever is found to be at fault for the accident occurring is also responsible for paying the damages associated with that accident. Therefore, the driver who did not cause the accident would first file a claim with the other driver’s insurance provider. This is in contrast to a “no-fault state” where each driver first must file a claim with their own insurance regardless of fault before seeking damages from the other driver. 

However, if you were only a passenger in the car, this determination doesn't necessarily apply to you. As a passenger, it’s rare (though not entirely impossible) that you would be found to hold any fault, so you can immediately file a claim on your behalf. 

Filing a Claim  

The claims process for the passenger is often simpler than it is for the driver of the car and follows more or less the same process. You will be making a third-party claim against one or more people who were at fault. Your two main options are to file a claim against the opposing driver or against the driver of the car you were riding in. In both scenarios, these would be considered third-party claims since neither insurance policy actually belongs to you. It’s also possible that you’ll need to file more than one claim depending on the extent of your damages. For example, if the at-fault driver’s policy doesn’t fully cover all the medical expenses you’ve incurred (either because your injuries were extensive or because they were underinsured), you may then need to file an additional claim with the driver of the car you were in. Importantly, this will only be an option if both drivers shared responsibility for the accident occurring. 

As a final option, you may be able to file a claim through your own car or health insurance, even though you weren’t in your own car or driving. It’s possible that your auto insurance will cover some of your expenses through your uninsured motorist insurance (UMI), or your policy’s medical payments (Med Pay) coverage. This type of coverage is helpful if you need immediate treatment and are concerned about paying for services because Med Pay isn’t concerned with who was at fault.  Depending on your coverage, you may also choose to receive care under your personal health insurance plan. 

Passenger Liability  

There are some cases when a passenger may hold some fault for the accident occurring, though this is not typical. However, if you believe you’ll be held liable for any portion of the accident, you should always work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options and ensure you’re still receiving the damages you’re due. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence law, liability can be shared between multiple parties in an accident and your final settlement will be affected by this. For example, if both drivers were found to be equally responsible for the crash, you would receive 50% of your settlement from driver A and 50% from driver B. If you as the passenger were found to hold some of the blame, your final settlement would be reduced by this amount. For instance, if you held 20% of the fault, your total damages would be reduced by 20%. 

Passengers can contribute to the fault if they’ve done something deliberately distracting to the driver such as grabbing the wheel or obstructing the driver’s vision in some way. Or, you may have been showing the driver photos or videos on your phone, taking their attention away from the road. 

Individualized Legal Counsel  

If you’re in the Rockville, Maryland area and have recently been injured as a passenger in a car wreck, you don’t need to go through this difficult process alone. Take steps to get the compensation you deserve. Call us at Mohammadi & Humayun, LLC to schedule a consultation.