Passenger Injury Claim


Making a claim for compensation is not just for the drivers of vehicles. If you are a passenger in a car, taxi, motorbike or other form of public transport and have been injured due to the negligence of someone else, you may be able to make a claim.


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Who do I claim against as a passenger?

Personal injury claims as a passenger will almost always be successful, as in normal circumstances passengers can rarely be held responsible for a road accident.

Any claim for compensation will be made against the at fault driver, which will either be the driver you were travelling with, or the driver of the vehicle that collided with you. If both drivers were at fault in some way then as an innocent passenger your compensation may be made up from claims against both drivers.

I was a passenger in an uninsured vehicle, can I make a claim?

As long as you were unaware that the driver was uninsured you should still be able to make a claim, as claims for untraced or uninsured drivers are made through the Motor Insurers Bureau. However they will not accept passenger injury claims if you knew, or ought to have known, that the driver of their vehicle was:

  • Uninsured or had an expired insurance policy
  • Had stolen or taken the vehicle unlawfully
  • Was using the vehicle to escape from, or avoidance of, lawful apprehension
  • Was using the vehicle in the course or furtherance of a crime (this includes not having a license, driving whilst disqualified etc.)

I was a passenger in a car with a drunk driver, can I still claim?

Depending on the circumstances, your claim may be reduced if you knew that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, as the court will consider how much you contributed to your own injuries. This contribution can include facts such as knowing that the driver had consumed alcohol or was not wearing a seatbelt. Our specialist lawyers can assess any contributing factors and advise you accordingly.

  • Owens V Brimmell [1977] - Reduction of 20% because the passenger knew the driver had consumed enough alcohol to impair his ability to drive
  • T Akers & 5 Ors V Roy Albert Thorne Motor Insurers' Bureau [2002] - Passenger knew that the driver had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. Passenger was not wearing seatbelt. Deduction of 45% (20% for knowing drivers condition and 25% for not wearing seatbelt).
  • Traynor v Donovan [1978] - No reduction if the 'symptoms of drunkenness' would not have been obvious.

Children injured in a car accident

Children who are injured in a road accident have a right to compensation like any other passenger, as the parent or guardian of an injured child can make a claim on their behalf. This claim should ideally be made immediately after the accident, but can be made any time before the child reaches the age of 18.

But following an accident, a child booster or car seat should always be replaced even if there is no obvious sign of damage.

Our guide on children suffering from whiplash provides further information on identifying an injury in a young passenger.

Can a passenger claim for whiplash?

The most common type of injury sustained from a road accident is known as whiplash. This occurs as a result of the impact when an occupants head is suddenly jolted in any direction. The ligaments and tendons inside the neck can be damaged from the force. In most cases the symptoms of whiplash can take around 6-12 hours to develop and can last up to six months and longer in extreme cases. If you are injured as a passenger you should be able to submit a passenger whiplash claim.

How do I claim for whiplash as a passenger?

The compensation process for a passenger suffering whiplash is almost identical as that of a driver, with the added benefit that passengers can rarely be held at any fault for causing the accident. But after the accident it is still just as important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, and to gain independent legal advice on your potential passenger whiplash claim.

Making a claim as a passenger

Most road traffic accident claims will go through the Ministry of Justice Streamlined Claims Process which is designed to ensure that all claims are resolved within a reasonable amount of time. For more information on how long your claim may take, please see our guide on settlement timeframes.

If you are a passenger in a car accident and have been injured as a result you have the right to make a claim for compensation. Call us today on 08000 93 00 94 to discuss your claim with one of our legal advisors, or you can complete an enquiry form online and we'll call you back.

How can we help?

Personal Injury Accident Guides

Our legal team at Spencers Solicitors are experienced in all types of personal injury claims, from road traffic accidents to workplace injuries. Please read through our bespoke "accident guides" which will help you understand and navigate through the injury claims process.


View Accident Guides

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