Have You Been Injured as a Passenger in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Motor Vehicle Accident Passenger Injury


‘Can you drive me home?’
‘Sure, jump in.’

It’s a typical exchange that takes place any given night of the week, after a game of sport, at the end of a work day or at a party on the weekend.

This casual conversation, filled with familiarity, is barely given a second thought. Few passengers stop to evaluate the risks associated with getting into a car with another driver, but then why would you? Driving is an essential part of our society and with the ever increasing cost of tolls and parking, carpooling is both social and economical. While the number of passengers injured on Australian roads each year isn’t as high as drivers, the injuries that passengers sustain are often serious, which means expensive medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering.

So should you be injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident what can you do?

Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation

Under the Motor Accident Act 1999, an accident victim is eligible for damages for injuries as a result (or partly as a result) of the negligence of another party. This means, to make a claim, you must prove that another party, either the driver (or owner) of the vehicle you are in or the driver (or owner) of another vehicle is at fault. Under these circumstances, anyone not at fault, including drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and passengers are entitled to make a compensation claim.

Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are rarely that simple and there are a number of other circumstances in which claims can be made regardless of fault. These include:

  • Where a child under 16 years old is injured, a claim can be made under the Children’s Special Benefit scheme, even if the child is at fault.
  • If injuries result from a blameless accident then compensation can still be claimed and there is no need to prove fault. An accident is considered blameless if a driver suffers a sudden illness like a heart attack, there is an unexplained mechanical failure or if a collision with a wild animal causes the accident.
  • In cases where the accident is caused by an unidentified or unregistered vehicle, a nominal defendant claim can be made.
  • In circumstances where the injuries sustained are catastrophic (such as a spinal cord or brain injury) a claim can be made under the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme (LTCS), regardless of fault.

Outside of these circumstances, a claim will need to prove fault on the part of the defendant. However recently announced changes to motor vehicle compensation in NSW will extend some protection to at-fault road users, with exceptions when the injured road user has engaged in unlawful activity. These changes will likely come into effect July 2017.

What if the Driver was a Friend or Relative?

If a passenger is injured in a motor vehicle accident, chances are, it was a friend, relative or even co-worker driving the car. For this reason, many injured passengers are hesitant to make a compensation claim. However, in NSW all registered vehicles carry Green Slip Insurance to compensate motor vehicle accident victims and any compensation claimed is paid out by the insurance company. The motor accident compensation scheme allows injured passengers to receive compensation, without turning a relationship sour, so there needn’t be debate over whether to claim or not.

A legal professional will be able to guide you through such a situation. At Taylor & Scott we understand the emotional complexities involved and can advise you on the best course of action, to ensure you receive adequate compensation even when the driver is a friend or relative.

What if the Passenger is at Fault?

An injured passenger may delay a compensation claim if they were also in the wrong. For example, they weren’t wearing a seatbelt or perhaps they knew the driver had been drinking and they chose to get into the car anyway. In situations like this, a passenger is still entitled to make a claim, however a court may reduce compensation according to a passenger’s contributory negligence.

For example, a passenger who gets into a car, aware the driver is under the influence of alcohol, can still receive compensation in the event of a motor vehicle accident. An error in judgement shouldn’t mean that an injured passenger should suffer. A legal professional will ensure an injured passenger receives fair compensation for their injuries, even when there is contributory negligence.

Making a Claim

If you have been injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible because the time which you have to lodge a claim is limited, generally 6 months from the date of accident. A passenger can make claims for medical expenses, loss of income, as well as for pain and suffering. An injured passenger may also immediately claim up to $5000 for injury treatment without lodging a formal claim.

At Taylor & Scott we specialise in motor vehicle accident compensation and we bring years of experience to your individual case. We offer a free 40 minute case assessment, and if you are unable to come to us, we can visit you at your home or in hospital. During that first meeting we can assess your case and what you may be entitled to. From that point we’ll be there to guide you through the entire process and negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive the right compensation with the best care and support. Contact us today to arrange your FREE case assessment.

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