If you are injured as a passenger in an automobile accident you are entitled to the same rights and remedies as if you were a driver of a vehicle. Odds are that, as a passenger in a vehicle, you would not be liable for any accident (barring any extraordinary circumstances). Thus, you would able to pursue a claim for compensation against any at-fault party’s liability insurance. You would also be permitted to recover compensation from your own underinsured motorist coverage, if available.
Driver Of The Other Vehicle Is At Fault
If the driver of the vehicle you were not occupying is at fault, you would pursue your claim against their liability insurance. You would be entitled to any and all rights under South Carolina law that would be afforded the driver of your vehicle, excluding the vehicle’s property damage claim. As such, you would be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and any pain and suffering as a result of your automobile accident.
Assuming the at-fault driver’s liability limits is not enough to fully compensate you for your injuries, you would then pursue a claim against any underinsured motorist coverage from your own vehicle at home and any “Class I Insured” vehicles listed on your policy. This is why we always recommend for South Carolina drivers to purchase additional underinsured motorist coverage on their automobile policies.
Driver Of Your Vehicle Is At Fault
If the driver of the vehicle you were in was at fault for the accident you would be able to pursue compensation against their liability insurance. There is a good chance you know that individual since you would be in the vehicle with that person at the time of the accident. Nonetheless, you are still entitled to pursue compensation under that individual’s liability insurance. There have even been cases in South Carolina where a spouse sues another spouse under their own liability policy to recover compensation for injuries they sustained while riding as a passenger in their own vehicle driven by their spouse.
As in the same scenario above, you would also be able to pursue any underinsured motorist coverage from your own vehicle’s insurance policy. Determining which policies you are able to “stack” is a very complex issue and you should certainly consult with an experienced South Carolina auto accident attorney who is familiar with handling these types of claims.
Dispute Over Who Is At Fault
If there is a dispute over which driver is at fault for the accident (the driver of the vehicle the passenger was in or the other vehicle), a passenger has the right to pursue claims against either driver or both. What happens often times in these scenarios is that both insurance companies will deny liability and try to blame the other. If liability is being disputed, by pursuing claims against both vehicles, you can assure that you will be fully compensated once liability is determined.
Notably, an auto accident attorney representing the passenger of a car accident must always be careful in representing the driver of the vehicle if liability is disputed. There is potential for attorneys to get themselves in a conflict of interest in representing both parties. In any event, since a passenger of a vehicle is rarely at fault for an accident, they will almost always have the right to pursue any underinsured motorist coverage available to them from potential secondary insurance policies.
If you have been injured as a passenger in a car accident in South Carolina, contact our Charleston accident law firm at 843-991-6528 to learn what rights you might have in pursuing full compensation for your injuries.