Key Points in This Article:
- In 2018, there were a total of 312,798 traffic crashes in Michigan and passenger injuries were among the 75,838 reported.
- Common passenger injuries caused by a crash can include whiplash, spinal cord damage, seat belt and airbag injuries, sprains and strains.
- Injured passengers may need help in determining which party’s insurer pays and when Michigan’s “No-Fault” auto insurance system will
- To file an injury claim, passengers can help gather evidence and must be able to prove that someone else was at fault and how badly they are injured.
Whether you or your child becomes injured as a passenger during a car accident, determining who is liable, understanding what you must prove to receive compensation, and how medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages will be covered moving ahead can be confusing and stressful — especially in Michigan where “No-Fault” insurance rights don’t always answer all of your questions. The Michigan personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. have represented injured passengers of all ages for decades and can help explain the right to coverage plans.
#1 IF YOU WERE A PASSENGER STRUCK BY ANOTHER VEHICLE
The most common type of passenger injury caused by a crash involves another vehicle hitting them while riding in the front or back seat of a car or truck. When this happens, the passenger will be covered by the personal injury protection (PIP) provisions of Michigan’s “No-Fault” program. Medical expenses, lost wages (and other damages) will be covered. Determining who pays for those damages depends on several factors, including if the injured has auto insurance and the type. If they do not have coverage, it may be supplied by a family member or the owner or driver of the struck vehicle. If all else fails, injured passengers are still covered by the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, administered by the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF).
#2 IF YOU WERE A PASSENGER INVOLVED IN A SINGLE-CAR CRASH
In the case that you are a passenger in a vehicle that has crashed in a single-car accident (especially if caused by the driver who was operating recklessly, drunk, or speeding), you should be able to hold that individual accountable through their insurance plan. If not, your insurance may help. If the negligent driver was your mother, husband or another relative, some policies might restrict your ability to make a claim.
If the accident victim does not have an auto insurance policy, an attorney is the best resource to help determine who would be responsible for covering “No-Fault” benefits.
A Few Claim Exceptions for Injured Passengers
Each motor vehicle accident situation is different and requires a careful review before a making a claim attempting to prove liability, especially when it comes to passenger injuries. A few exceptions apply to injuries that occur to passengers traveling in transportation service vehicles such as a bus or taxi, employer-provided vehicles, and motorcycles.
- Vehicles in the Business of Transporting Passengers: An occupant of a vehicle that is in the business of transporting passengers seeks “No-Fault” benefits from the insurer for the motor vehicle. However, if an occupant is in one of the following vehicles for hire, then the person uses the order of priority, except if that person does not have insurance at any of the standard rules of priority, the insurer for the transportation vehicle is obligated to pay benefits.
- Employer-Provided Vehicles: If a person, or his or her spouse, or a relative of either domiciled in the same household, is injured while an occupant of a car or truck owned or registered by an employer, the auto insurer for the employer is obligated to pay “No-Fault” benefits. Once injured while traveling in a company car, the insurance company for the motor vehicle must pay the claim. This is true even if you were not using the vehicle for your job. Also, if a spouse or child is injured in the car, the insurance carrier is responsible even if the employee was not in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- Motorcycles: Under the Michigan “No-Fault” law, motorcycle drivers and their passengers are generally not obligated to “No-Fault” benefits. However, so long as a motor vehicle was involved in the accident, then a motorcycle driver or passenger can collect “No-Fault” benefits in a special order of priority.
Passengers Can Serve as Excellent Crash Witnesses
Sometimes a passenger sees a car accident coming before the driver does and can provide the evidence needed to prove that someone else was at fault for their injuries. If you are involved in a car accident as a passenger, follow these steps to ensure the best recovery for all involved.
- If able, call 911 right away. Be sure to provide the necessary information for them to respond effectively, such as the location of the crash, how many vehicles are involved, and how many people need medical attention.
- Seek medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor.
- Provide contact information with the people involved in the crash and be sure to share your account of the crash events with the police officers responding to the scene. In the days and weeks following the collision, your statement will be needed for reporting, insurance or legal purposes.
- Use your phone to document the accident scene and capture a view of all injuries. Digital images can be used by legal teams and police to provide the evidence needed to support crash injury claims.
- Visit with a healthcare provider for a health assessment as soon as you are able.
- Make a note of all the ways the accident or your accident injuries have disrupted your life.
If you or a family member was injured in an accident and were the passenger, be sure to seek out the qualified advice of a car accident attorney before discussing anything with an insurance company.
The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg Can Handle Your Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claim
The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C., has been representing accident victims for over 40 years, and we can help you through this challenging and stressful time. Contact us today for a free consultation about your potential case or call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE.