Can passengers make a successful car accident claim?

Being the passenger in a car involved in an accident, whether it is the car driver who is to blame or not, can be confusing when it comes to making a car accident claim. This shouldn’t be the case. It is possible to create three general categories of people, all of which appear in every car accident. Each of these categories has varying possibilities and cases for making a car accident claim. It is important to note here that every car accident is different and unique. These categories are meant as a guide to help people who have been involved with a car accident to see where they stand. Always obtain further legal advice if you are unsure or confused.

The first category of person usually present in a car accident is the ‘clear perpetrator’. This means someone who is knowingly driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug, someone who is acting irresponsibly whilst driving (i.e. road rage, texting on a mobile) or someone who drives into another car on purpose. It is important to note here that there is such thing as an accidental perpetrator (somebody who causes a car accident without meaning to), though this normally occurs as a product of irresponsible driving. The second category is the victim of a car accident. This is the person who suffers damages either to their person or their vehicle. The third category is the passenger. As stated above, the passenger can either be a passenger traveling in the offending vehicle or a passenger in the victim’s vehicle.

The first case study focuses on the clear perpetrator. Juliette Jansen was driving home from a day’s worth of shopping in Bluewater, Kent, to her home in Dartford. The motorway home was busy, though the traffic was still moving at an average of 40 mph. As it was nearly 7.00pm, Mrs Jansen took out her mobile telephone in order to text her husband to ask what their dinner plans were. In the couple of seconds it took her to glance down at her phone in order to send the text, the traffic in front of her car slowed down significantly. Mrs Jansen did not have time to brake adequately and she collided into the car in front of her. Mrs Jansen, as well as causing significant damage to the car in front of her, sustained a serious concussion and neck injury. The car in front of her had contained a young couple, who both suffered from severe whiplash and more long term neck injuries. The back of their car was also ruined.

In the above example, it was Mrs Jansen who had a car accident claim made against her. Although she did not purposefully set out to collide with the car in front of her, Mrs Jansen was the clear perpetrator of the accident. The couple in front of her made a successful car accident claim for both their physical injuries and the damage done to their vehicle. The outcome was completely deserved and fair, showing exactly why a car accident claim should be made. The second case study, told from the point of view of the young couple in the car collided into by Mrs Jansen should serve to prove this.

Young couple, Mark Bescoby and Georgia Randall, both working in supermarket graduate schemes, had recently jointly purchased a new Mini Cooper. They had been shopping in Bluewater, Kent for new furniture and furnishings for the new home in Bexley they had recently moved into. On their way home from this shopping trip the traffic was busy, as expected on a Saturday evening, so they passed the time by listening to the radio. The traffic began to slow down at one point and just as it did, they felt a car sharply collide into the back of their vehicle. Both experienced a great amount of physical pain and were extremely upset about their new car. Having spent all of their savings on a new mortgage and car, Mr Bescoby and Miss Randall were both very concerned about how they were going to pay for the damage to their vehicle. They decided to make a car accident claim, as they thought this the fairest thing to do, considering the situation. Their car accident claim was successful and Mr Bescoby and Miss Randall were able to get on with their lives.

Both of the above case studies are rather clear cut; many would argue that the outcomes imitate common sense and justice is definitely served. This, however, is not always the case for passengers – the third category of people. Let’s alter the scenario above very slightly and pretend that Mr Bescoby and Miss Randall had not purchased the car jointly, but that Mr Bescoby, the driver, had bought it. Let’s also pretend that they are not a young couple and are just friends coming home from a shopping trip together. Would Miss Randall be able to make a car accident claim in this new scenario? The answer is yes. Miss Randall still suffered physical injuries due to the collision and the collision itself was in no way her own fault. As a passenger in Mr Bescoby’s Mini Cooper, she would still have the legal right to make a car accident claim.

More than this, if Mrs Jansen, the clear perpetrator of the collision, had been carrying passengers in her car who were also injured as a result of the accident, then they would also have the right to make a car accident claim against Mrs Jansen.

This case study should show that passengers who are injured in a car accident are also completely entitled to compensation for their injuries or damages.

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