Automobile Injury Claims from the Standpoint of Passengers

Most drivers know that regardless of how careful one may be, there is always a chance, no matter how slim, that another motorist will make a mistake that could involve others as well. Being part of a multi-vehicle traffic wreck is not something anyone wants to contemplate; however, as drivers ourselves, we know that most people feel they have a reasonable amount of control when they are behind the wheel. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the other occupants in a car, truck or commercial passenger vehicle.

As Maryland automobile and commercial trucking injury attorneys, we understand how a moment’s inattention on a Baltimore street, Annapolis roadway, or Washington, D.C., avenue can change the course of someone’s life. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our goal is to provide skilled legal representation to victims of traffic collisions in and around our state and the District of Columbia. A fair number of auto accident victims are passengers, which doesn’t change the number and type of injuries that may happen to these individuals, but legally they may have better recourse when filing a personal injury lawsuit.

It is true that drivers are responsible for the proper and safe control of their car, truck or motorcycle on the thousands of Maryland roads found throughout the state. Because drivers are primarily responsible, the occupants generally have no control and, therefore, likely have little or no liability when they file and injury claim. Even though a great number of people may not feel the least bit in control when not at the wheel, when filing a lawsuit against a negligent driver, these individuals ironically have more control than their driver counterparts.

When it comes to passengers who are seriously hurt in a Maryland car accident, it is important to note that vehicle passengers who are injured in roadway accidents typically have an easier time of it than a driver himself, or any other kind of plaintiff in a personal injury suit. The reason for this is simple. This is because an injured individual who has been hurt in a car crash as a passenger needn’t concern himself with proving liability. Generally speaking, one of the drivers involved in the crash is bound to be found to be negligent, regardless, which leaves the injured passengers in either car with a relatively strong argument for an injury claim.

The unique position of a vehicle passenger stems from the fact that occupants usually have no control over the vehicle in question, which means that they typically have no liability either way. With any personal injury claim involving an automobile or commercial vehicle accident, the plaintiff(s) must be able to prove two things: who was liable for causing the crash, and the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.

In the case of two-vehicle accidents, at least one motorist is usually responsible for the accident; in fact, it is a rarity that in any two-car collision neither of the drivers is negligent. Since at least one driver is bound to be responsible for a road accident, the injured occupant(s) should always be able to prove negligence on someone’s part.

Cases that involve a single-vehicle crash, which can make things difficult for the injured driver himself to file a claim, are not usually that challenging for a passenger injured in the same car crash. For instance, if a passenger car leaves the roadway and strikes a tree, the driver will usually be found liable for the collision. In other words, if a motor vehicle hits another object, it is often because the person behind the wheel either did something wrong to cause the crash or failed to avoid the collision. Of course, obtaining a copy of the police report is usually the best place to start when looking into the liability aspect of a traffic accident.

Regardless of the cause of negligence, the injuries sustained in many of these auto and trucking accidents can be quite extensive. Head trauma, neck and back injuries, internal hemorrhaging, broken bones and severe cuts, lacerations and burns are only a few of the wide range of potential bodily injuries that can be sustained by a passenger in a city, highway or beltway wreck. As a result, victims may need multiple surgeries, extended hospitalization and long-term therapy to return to somewhat of a normal life.

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our skilled legal team knows that recovering from a car, truck or motorcycle injury accident is only half of the story. Recovering damages -- represented by medical bills, rehab costs and fees for long-term nursing care, not to mention any lost wages -- is the next and often a very critical step for any individual or family who is suffering from the financial burden of a roadway accident.

Whether those injured are adults, teens, young children or the elderly, it is important to recognize that the filing of a personal injury claim by a passenger involved in a car crash proceeds just like any other type of auto injury lawsuit, except that in the case of an injured vehicle passenger, the plaintiff usually names both drivers in his or her suit.

Because of this, it is wise, assuming one is physically able, to obtain the insurance information of both drivers at the scene of the collision, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if one of the drivers was obviously not negligent -- such as in a case of a rear-ending accident -- then it is likely that the injured party would not name the driver whose vehicle was hit from behind in the lawsuit.

Although many passenger-related personal injury claims can be settled without a great deal of trouble, there are situations where complications may crop up. As auto accident lawyers, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are prepared to assist clients in recovering damages from both drivers -- when fault is indicated on the part of both motorists – by negotiating with the insurance carriers for each of the negligent drivers. Typically, as is the case with most passenger injury claims, damages can usually be recovered in a painless fashion, however, there are always exceptions.

Occasionally, there can be more legal involvement when neither party wishes to settle a passenger-related auto injury claim. Sometimes, arriving at a determination for the amount of fault on the part of each motorist can result in a conflict. Certainly, this is a situation where an experienced personal injury lawyer can be a valuable asset for an accident victim. Similarly, claims following a traffic-related injury accident that involved multiple passengers, each with serious and costly injuries, can present a more complex claims process and a much higher level of negotiation and case preparation.

Instances of car, truck or motorcycle accidents that involve multiple victims usually means that the plaintiffs must all be made whole using funds from the same “pot.” However, if the injured parties cannot agree on what portion each will recover as damages, the insurance carrier will likely not settle with any of them. In this kind of scenario, multiple lawsuits will likely be inevitable, which may end up in a more complicated process, simply to determine how much each of the injured victims will receive.

As drivers and occasional passengers ourselves, we are always reminded of the kinds of traffic situations that can result in a serious or fatal car or truck accident. Self-preservation is a strong instinct, but after one is already hurt as a result of another person’s thoughtless mistake or intentional act, it is time to contact a legal professional who will be your advocate through the often circuitous process of a personal injury lawsuit. The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are prepared to assist our clients recover damages due them under the law.

Everybody’s safety is of paramount importance on our public roadways. But for those individuals who, as passengers of a private vehicle or public transportation, have little or no control over their own safety, it is important to remember that professional personal injury attorneys are ready to help the victim of a bad highway or beltway crash. Our legal team approaches each auto injury lawsuit with the main goal of recovering the best possible award for our client.

While not every case goes to trial, we endeavor to prepare the strongest legal case against the responsible party or parties. By doing so, it is also possible to arrive at an out-of-court settlement, rather than go through a lengthy and sometimes emotionally exhausting courtroom trial; which is usually better for our clients, since it allows them to collect their damages faster and get on with the job of recovering from their physical injuries and enjoy a more normal life going forward.

If you or someone you care about has been seriously hurt in an automobile collision, we recommend that you contact a qualified personal injury lawyer experienced in handling injury-related traffic accidents in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our attorneys are ready, willing and able to consider your case and explain your legal options following an injury accident. Give us a call toll-free at (800) 654-1949, or contact Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen by email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.