If you’ve been in a Chicago car accident in which you were not one of the drivers, you should contact a Chicago passenger injury attorney. Your injuries and your claim for damages are different. As a passenger, you most likely do not have any liability for the accident itself. As with any legal action involving a personal injury claim, your Chicago passenger injury attorney will work to prove two things:
- Liability – One or more drivers owed a passenger a “duty of care” and one or more drivers breached that duty of care
- Damages – The negligence of a driver was the cause of the passenger’s injuries
Illinois demands that drivers have at least minimum insurance coverage. Unfortunately, if the negligent driver is uninsured, an injured passenger may have to file a claim with his or her own insurance company as an “uninsured motorist” claim.
Most Illinois residents carry auto insurance and, thankfully, they usually include an uninsured motorist policy. But insurance policies can be difficult to understand. Even your own insurance company may not be as cooperative as you wish. That is why it is always a good idea to consult with a Chicago passenger injury attorney.
However, there are exceptions to every rule. If a passenger was somehow responsible for causing the accident – for example, if he or she grabbed the steering wheel – the passenger may have a percentage of fault.
If you (the passenger) got into the vehicle knowing the driver was under the influence, you may also have a percentage of fault. Other examples of passenger “contributory negligence” include:
- Actively participating in an illegal or dangerous activity (street racing or even knowledgeably riding in a robbery “getaway car”)
- Being the driver’s employer
- Giving the driver alcohol or drugs
- Owning the vehicle but negligently allowing the driver to operate the vehicle
Wanton or Willful Conduct
When operating a vehicle, drivers have a responsibility to provide as much safety as possible to their passengers. However, if you (the passenger) were hitchhiking, your Chicago passenger injury attorney will need to prove the driver “acted with willful or wanton negligence.”
“Wanton or willful negligence” is different from general negligence. It means the driver was deliberately trying to cause an accident. Or the driver was completely indifferent to his or her responsibility for your safety. Another scenario: If the driver was drunk, but you (the passenger) did not know the driver was drunk. Your Chicago passenger injury attorney may be able to prove wanton or willful conduct.
More Than One Passenger
A Chicago passenger injury attorney may encounter difficulty with your claim for damages if there are multiple passengers in the traffic accident. If there are other passengers who also file for monetary damages against the driver’s insurance, they may have to divide the amount allowed by the driver’s insurance company.
In that case, you (as one of the passengers) may receive less compensation than you deserved. The best way to handle this situation is by consulting with anexperienced Chicago passenger injury attorney.
In a Wreck? Need a Check?™ Call a Chicago Passenger Injury Attorney
Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable lawyers who serve Chicago, Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, and Waukegan. We offer free consultations and because we understand your loss, we can bring experience, skill, and passion to your case. We believe in you, so there’s no fee unless we win your case.
Our offices are open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. but our LiveChat is available 24/7. We are available when you need us, any time because “time is money!” Do not lose any more time! Call 708-222-2222 or contact us if you need a Chicago passenger injury attorney that will best represent you and your interests.