Passenger injury is something most people don’t think about when they talk about a car accident. Most drivers have been in a crash at least once in their lives, but not everyone has been a passenger during a crash.
You may be part of a car or vanpool when it happens. It could be your daily commute on the Manchester Transit Authority, or while taking the train through Exeter. You could be in a taxicab, or a rideshare passenger anywhere (Uber, Lyft.) Or you could be out with friends driving on I-93 past Derry and Londonderry, in a car or on the back of a motorcycle. From a short day trip to a trip around the world, if you’re an injured passenger, you have rights, too.
What Do I Do Now?
Just as if you were driving the car, the first thing you need to take care of is you. Passengers can suffer catastrophic injuries in a car or motorcycle crash. Don’t decline medical attention at the scene of the accident. Your injuries could be even more painful if you wait until the next day or week. (You could also lose or diminish your chances of collecting damages.)
If you are able, use your phone (or a camera, if you happen to have one) and safely take as many pictures as you can of the accident scene, your injuries, injuries of the driver and other passengers, and anything else around you. Get names and contact information from witnesses, if possible.
Riding With Someone—Automobile Passenger Injury
Generally, you’ll file your claims with the other party’s insurer, as you would if you were driving. You can collect damages from:
- the liability insurance coverage of the driver or owner of the car in which you were a passenger
- the policy of the driver or owner of any other vehicles involved in the crash.
If one policy isn’t enough to cover everything, you can also file with the other drivers’ policies to make up the difference. However, you won’t be able to collect more than your case is worth.
Many passenger injury cases involve someone who’s riding somewhere with a friend or relative. While this might be awkward, filing a claim against their insurance policy could be your only choice to be compensated for your injuries.
There is one caveat. If you are related to and live with the driver, (spouse, parent/child, etc.), you’re an “insured person” under the liability insurance. You can’t file a claim against your “own” liability coverage.
Call Your Own Insurance Provider, Too
You may also be able to file a claim for medical payment coverage under your own auto insurance policy, since it’s not based on liability. Be aware that it will only cover your medical expenses up to the limits of the policy. Lost wages and pain and suffering aren’t covered. If you can settle later for a sum with another insurance company, you’ll use some of it to reimburse your insurer for your covered expenses. (If you have health insurance, using that may be the better option.)
Public Transportation Passenger Injury
Many Americans take public transportation every day without a thought. Buses, ferries, trains, high-speed rail lines, van pools and subways are common in most metropolitan cities.
The laws are a little different here. Public transportation comes under “common carrier” law, meaning that they are held to a higher standard of care. They’re required to use the utmost care in driving (including not talking to passengers.)
If you’re injured as a passenger on a bus, train or other public transportation, you still need to prove negligence. But unlike the standard personal injury case, there is usually a shorter time frame to file your claim, as well as stricter rules for filing. Lawsuits against a public entity also have different rules for filing and collecting on a claim. A passenger injury lawyer can help you with a claim against one of the many bus lines that ride through the Concord metropolitan area, as well as rail and other forms of public transport.
Taxicab Passenger Injury
Taxis are also subject to the common carrier law. In this case, there are two different types of passenger injury. Either you were riding IN a taxicab, or you were riding in a car that’s hit BY a taxicab.
- If you’ve hired a taxicab, you won’t have to prove liability. Like most car accidents, there is at least one driver at fault,
- If you’re riding in a car that’s hit by a taxicab, it’s a standard car accident claim. You have to prove the taxi driver’s negligence for both the liability and the damages.
Airline Passenger Injury
In-flight turbulence, hard landings, defective parts of an airplane and crew negligence can all cause passenger injuries. One of the most common airline passenger injuries is luggage or other personal items falling out of an overhead storage bin that failed to lock properly.
Since the FAA controls and routes all air traffic, any negligence on their part that causes an injury is also a potential for a lawsuit. However, lawsuits against a federal agency require different rules and procedures. (It may also include a different statute of limitations that a suit filed at the state level.)
You can also contact the FAA after an airport injury at, 866-835-5322. This toll-free hotline is for reporting any kind of complaints, concerns, travel problems and/or safety issues.
For any of these personal injury cases, you should contact an experienced passenger injury lawyer in New Hampshire to learn what kinds of rights you have, and if available, how you would go about filing suit.
Cruise Ship Passenger Injury
If you’re on the cruise you’ve always wanted, a passenger injury is probably the last thing on your mind. But cruise ships do have accidents and injuries on board. Some cases are broadcast through the media.
Cruise ships are home to many types of passenger injuries, including:
- Staircase accidents (wet, shallow, no handrails, etc.)
- Slipping on a deck
- Tripping over thresholds
- Injuries caused by crew members
The cruise line is responsible for negligence and the negligence of its employees, but not of independent contractors and vendors responsible for different parts of the cruise (i.e., entertainment, medical personnel, shore excursions, etc.) Your ticket usually lists what the cruise line is and is not responsible for.
Three Years To File
New Hampshire allows three years from the date of the accident for you to file a claim for any kind of personal injury case. That’s why it’s important to talk to a passenger injury lawyer right away to preserve your rights in case of a claim. If you miss the deadline, you’ll lose your rights to file a claim and recover compensation.
Injured As A Passenger? Call Us Today
We can help whether you were driving a car or riding as a passenger at the time of the accident. If you’ve been injured while riding in any type of transport—train, bus, airplane, boat—we can help you file a personal injury claim to recover damages.
Cohen & Winters will fight to help you get compensation if you’re involved in a passenger injury crash. Call us today at (603) 224-6999 (or use our contact form) to schedule a free 30-minute consultation. We’ll discuss your case with you, and let you know how we can help. There’s no fee until we win your case.