Auto accidents can be devastating for everyone involved, but passengers often face the brunt of the damage. As modern vehicles become more and more advanced, most manufacturers have focused their efforts on protecting drivers, while passenger safety systems are severely lacking. In addition, after an accident, most legal cases tend to focus on which driver acted negligently and has to pay the other. But passengers have the same legal rights as drivers and deserve proper representation in an auto accident claim.
If you or someone you love was injured as a passenger in a car accident, you are well within your rights to demand compensation from the driver who injured you. Whether your accident was caused by another driver or the driver of your vehicle, Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, can pursue full compensation for your injuries. Our New York passenger injury attorneys have more than 50 years of experience representing clients in serious car accidents. Do not wait. Call our office today at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.
When auto manufacturers design new models, a stringent quality assurance process is administered to determine how safe each vehicle is. These crash tests and simulations are designed to identify how an occupant can be injured in a collision or rollover and where the manufacturer needs to make improvements. Generally, these tests focus on the front-driver’s side of the vehicle. Whether the manufacturer is testing rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents, or roof crushes, drivers get a large amount of attention when it comes to safety.
Sadly, passenger safety is often left behind. Most drivers are aware that passenger-side airbags only deploy when a weight sensor is trigged in the vehicle, but the stark reality is that these airbags may not deploy at all, and this is not the only danger for passengers. Research has shown that multiple mid-size SUVs saw catastrophic failures in passenger safety during head-on collision tests by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), one of the two independent agencies that test vehicle safety in the United States. In addition, despite common belief that rear seats are safer in collisions, research by the IIHS has shown that the lack of front airbags and strong seatbelts for rear-seat passengers puts them at a higher risk of injury.
At the end of the day, passengers are just as likely to suffer catastrophic injuries in a collision. Whether you are dealing with the effects of a traumatic brain injury or were disabled due to a spinal cord injury, you are looking at tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages to deal with, as well as deep emotional trauma. As terrifying as these prospects may be, you do have options.
New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, meaning vehicle occupants can typically reach out to their own insurance company after a collision to cover the costs of their treatment. For drivers, this seems like a simple process, but passengers are in a more complex situation. If passengers do not have auto insurance, they may assume that they do not have coverage. However, this is not true.
Whether or not you are related to the driver, you may be covered under the vehicle’s no-fault insurance, even if it is owned by a private organization. Passengers can pursue no-fault claims in accidents such as:
- Bus accidents, such as collisions with New York Metro Transit Authority buses, tour buses, and other charter buses
- Rideshare accidents involving Lyft and Uber
- Private limo accidents
- Taxicab collisions
Unfortunately, the total costs of your injuries may exceed the policy’s limit, making it difficult for you to cover your medical expenses. In this situation, if you have suffered a “serious injury” according to New York Insurance Law § 5104(a)(b) and your accident was caused by a driver you are not related to, then you may be able to file a third-party claim against their liability policy.
A serious injury can include:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment
It is important to know that both drivers can be found at fault for an accident, meaning you can pursue a claim from both of their policies.
If you are related to the driver of your vehicle, then you are typically covered under their insurance policy. Per New York’s no-fault laws, you can automatically receive coverage under the driver’s policy, including their PIP policy, in order to cover the costs of your injuries, even if the driver is at fault for the accident. However, because you are considered a member of the driver’s household, you cannot pursue a third-party claim against them.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, our New York auto accident lawyers thoroughly research every case to determine all legal options for our clients. We understand that passengers are often left by the wayside when an accident occurs, which is why we provide the strong representation you need to get compensation. If you were injured as a passenger in a New York car accident, reach out to Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353. We provide every client a free consultation and work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning we do not get paid unless we win your case.
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