Passenger Injury Claim

If you were a passenger in a vehicle, on a motorbike or a fare paying passenger on public transport and have been injured due to the negligence of another person, you may be able to make a claim.

Nick Tunnicliffe

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Who do I claim against as a passenger?

Personal injury claims brought by any passenger in a vehicle that is involved in an accident, will almost always be successful. Almost without exception, the accident in question will have either been the fault of the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was travelling in, or it will have been caused by the negligence of another driver.

Any claim for compensation by a passenger will be made against the at fault driver. If more than one driver was at fault in some way then as an innocent passenger your compensation may be made up from claims against any driver who is considered to have contributed to the the accident taking place.

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 or drug 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, by travelling in a vehicle being driven by someone who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you contributed to your own injuries. Our specialist lawyers will be happy to advise you further on what can be a difficult area of law.

Some examples of decisions made by courts in relation to passenger claims where their driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol, include the following cases;

  • 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 just 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.

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 in a road accident is known as whiplash. This is caused by sudden movement of the head or neck forwards, sideways or backwards. The ligaments and tendons inside the neck become stretched, causing damage to them. In most cases the symptoms of whiplash will take around 6-12 hours to develop and can last up to six months or longer in extreme cases. If you sustain this type of injury as a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident you will 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 to that of a driver, with the added benefit that passengers can rarely be held at any fault for causing the accident. After the accident it is 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

Making a claim for compensation is not just for the drivers of vehicles. Most road traffic accident claims will go through the 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.

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