Being in a Texas car accident is one of life’s moments we’d all prefer to avoid. However, accidents do happen, and even if they are not fatal, they can be a huge headache. Being a passenger in an auto accident is an even trickier subject. Since you are not the primary motorist of any of the vehicles involved in the crash, you may not consider that you could be found liable for the accident. However, it’s important to remember that in certain Texas auto accident cases, a passenger can be found at fault and therefore financially liable for a car accident. If you were a passenger in a car accident, here is what you need to know about your rights.
A passenger is generally in the best situation of anybody involved in an automobile accident because a passenger, unless a passenger is waving in the driver’s face or something, or distracting them, a passenger is usually never at fault. So, they don’t really have to worry about the swearing match between the car they’re in and the other driver. They didn’t do anything wrong, he or she is just sitting there.
They can generally make a claim against both the driver whose car they’re in and the other driver. You can also get personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance against both the vehicle that you’re in and your own vehicle. So if you’ve got your own car, and you’ve got your own PIP and your own UM, you can make a claim against that and you can make a claim against the PIP and the UM and the liability of the vehicle that you’re in.
Car Passenger Rights in the State of Texas
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 80,000 people are injured each year in crashes in Texas and as a passenger, you should take full advantage of exercising and understanding your rights when it comes to your recovery. Hiring a personal injury attorney is one of the easiest ways to benefit from and alleviate the stressors after an auto accident. Here are some of the rights you have as a passenger:
- You have the right to request the names, phone numbers, and insurance information from the other driver and the other passengers in the opposing car. If the adverse driver is being problematic, let the police officer gather the information needed.
- You also have the right to request medical treatment for your injuries. Remember that in accidents that result in injuries, the most important thing to take care of is the health of everyone involved. Cooperate with first responders to get the medical attention you need. You will also need documentation of a doctor’s report on your injuries and the medical interventions given if you need to file an insurance claim later on.
- You have the right to request the police report from the law enforcement officer on the scene. This will be important, as with the doctor’s report, if you file a claim. If a report number is available It is vital to get that number and information on how to obtain the report.
- You have the right to decline to speak to an insurance adjuster before you speak with an attorney. You should always try to speak with a personal injury attorney before you talk to anyone else about the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you walk through the accident and understand your legal options as a passenger.
- You have the right to request compensation from the at-fault driver for your medical expenses as a result of the car crash.
- If the driver of the car you were a passenger of has medical coverage or personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their auto insurance, you can typically be reimbursed for medical expenses without having to prove fault in one direction or the other.
- If the other driver was at fault and refuses to pay out for your injuries or losses, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a Texas auto accident attorney.
Can Passengers be Found Liable for a Car Accident in Texas?
In Texas, vehicle passengers do have a duty of care even though they are not driving. Duty of care is a legal or ethical requirement to act with reasonable prudence and safety. There are situations where passengers could share liability for an auto accident if it is proven that they acted outside of that duty of care. Such actions include the following:
- Distracting the driver by speaking, arguing, touching, hitting, or otherwise acting in a way that would take their eyes off the road.
- Encouraging the driver to drive recklessly, such as speeding, drag racing, or street racing.
- Interfering with the vehicle itself. This could include attempting to yank the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands, playing with the clutch or emergency brake, or changing gears suddenly on the driver’s behalf.
While a passenger cannot be found solely responsible for an auto accident in the state of Texas, it is likely that if they engaged in one of the above behaviors, they could be found partially liable for the crash, and they could therefore share financial liability for injuries and damages. If this is found to be the case, it also opens up the passenger to be personally sued by the other driver or the passengers of the other car.
Why Hire a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you were a passenger in an auto accident in Texas, it’s best that you contact a personal injury attorney following the crash. If you do not know them already, a personal injury attorney will walk you through your particular rights in the case of your accident. They will also walk through each and every detail of the crash to help you determine whether you may be eligible to recover damages or obtain compensation from the at-fault driver in a personal injury lawsuit. This could include going over both your account and the driver’s account of the crash, witness interviews, police reports, medical records, documented proof of damages—such as photos from the scene, and any available videos of the crash. When appropriate, a strong Texas personal injury attorney will enlist the help of specialists to go through this evidence.
Remember, it is completely within your rights and important as a passenger of a vehicle in an auto accident to request to speak with a personal injury attorney before talking to anyone from an insurance office, speaking with the insurance company before an attorney could affect the outcome of the lawsuit if one is pursued. It is also your right to pursue a lawsuit and fight for compensation from the at-fault driver whether that be the driver of the other vehicle or the driver of the vehicle you were a passenger in. With the help of an attorney, you will know what options you have and if you have a case to proceed with. This could be especially important if you suffered expensive injuries, lost out on work and wages, or experienced severe pain and suffering following the auto accident.
ABOUT HERRMAN & HERRMAN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS
With over 100 years of combined experience among the legal team of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., our Texas personal injury attorneys have successfully resolved over 20,000 cases. When representing injured Texas residents, we fight for justice against wrongdoing and aggressively pursue the best resolution to complex personal injury claims.
If you or a loved one was injured, please contact us for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., is a locally based law firm focused on holding negligent individuals and companies accountable for their wrongdoing. We are not a personal injury mill that advertises nationwide. We provide individualized advocacy in attending to all aspects of claims that involve. Our firm has offices in the following locations: Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi South Side, Brownsville, McAllen, San Antonio, Houston, and Ft. Worth, TX.
We remain by our clients’ side, handling all aspects of their claims and attending to all legal, medical and financial needs. That dedication is combined with experience, legal knowledge, and insight from a former insurance adjuster and several former insurance defense attorneys. Whether our clients are suffering from physical pain from an accident or the emotional grief of death, we treat clients with compassion. We put their mind at ease during difficult times by answering their questions concerning the length of their claim, medical bills, financial compensation and their overall need for a lawyer.
Herrman & Herrman, LLP is an established south Texas law firm with Spanish- and English-speaking staff to assist you. The law firm has offices in Corpus Christi, McAllen, Brownsville, San Antonio, Houston, and Ft. Worth. Our attorneys all over Texas have helped tons of clients pursue full and fair compensation following a vehicle accident. They have the robust and varied experience necessary to fight on your behalf as a passenger in a Texas auto accident and win you the settlement you deserve.
Call (361) 882-4357 or contact our attorneys online for a free review of your auto accident case.