How Much Money Can a Passenger Recover After a San Diego Car Accident?

A passenger can recover substantial compensation after a car accident in San Diego, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash. You are not barred from receiving a monetary award just because you weren’t driving one of the vehicles involved in the accident. 

This blog post will cover circumstances where you can potentially recover compensation as a passenger, the types of damages you can claim, how comparative fault might impact your ability to recover compensation, and more.

When Can You Recover Compensation as a Passenger?

If your injuries were caused by someone else’s culpable conduct, you probably have a viable claim, even as a passenger. Some typical examples follow:

  • A negligent driver, including the driver of the car you were in during the accident;
  • A reckless driver (in a DUI accident, for example);
  • A “road rage” incident where the driver intentionally caused the accident;
  • A defective auto part; or
  • A defective traffic signal (you might file a claim against both the manufacturer and the government)

In most cases, you will not file your claim against the at-fault party but against their auto insurance policy. Sometimes, a third party, such as the at-fault driver’s employer, will share liability.

How Much Compensation Might You Receive With a Viable Claim?

Following is a list of some of the most common elements of car accident damages that you might seek in a California personal injury claim.

  • Medical expenses: This includes all necessary medical expenses that you paid or owe, excluding certain controversial treatments such as acupuncture.
  • Future medical expenses: Any future medical expenses arising from the accident between now and your eventual death.
  • Lost earnings: Any amount you lost from losing work time due to injury, plus compensation for sick leave and vacation time that you used up.
  • Diminished earning capacity: You could win compensation for diminished earning capacity if you suffered a permanent disability that prevents you from working at all or forces you into a lower-paying job.
  • Child care expenses: You might need to incur child care expenses while you recuperate.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: Parking fees at the doctor’s office, for example.
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical distress caused by your injury.
  • Emotional distress: Compensation for purely psychological distress.
  • Permanent disfigurement: Losing an arm, for example, or suffering from extreme facial scarring.
  • Lost enjoyment of life: You can no longer play golf with your friends, go to the gym, enjoy conjugal relations with your spouse, etc.
  • Punitive damages: Courts award punitive damages to punish a defendant for outrageous conduct. Imagine a bar bouncer beating you senseless for no good reason, or the motorist intentionally causing an accident due to road rage. It is relatively uncommon for courts to award punitive damages.
  • Loss of consortium: Your uninjured spouse can file this claim for the loss of your companionship, intimacy, etc.

Other damages might also be possible if you can show a causal link with your accident.

Comparative Fault

As a passenger, did you do anything that might have distracted the driver and caused (or contributed to) the accident? If so, the insurance company might try to blame you for the accident or hold you at least partially responsible. 

California has a system known as “pure comparative negligence” that applies when more than one party is to blame for an accident that causes damages.

The court will assign a percentage of fault to each responsible party, and then it will subtract exactly that percentage from the compensation they would otherwise receive. If you were 90% at fault, you would lose 90% of your compensation, for example. If you were 20% at fault, you would lose 20% of your compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Limitations

If your injury is work-related, and if you cannot find an at-fault party independent of your employer, you must turn to the workers’ compensation system to resolve your claim. This will probably limit your compensation to medical expenses, lost earnings, and diminished earning capacity.

Insurance Policy Limits

No matter much compensation you deserve, no insurance policy is obligated to pay more than the policy limits stated in the relevant insurance policy. Bad faith insurance is an exception, but that is a separate claim.  

Speak With a Lawyer To Assist You With Your Case

No honest lawyer will offer a guarantee that they can win your personal injury case. Statistically, however, when represented by a lawyer, the average car accident victim obtains compensation worth several times the average amount that unrepresented victims receive. At the very least, seek a free consultation with a lawyer to obtain their professional opinion on the value of your claim.

Contact the San Diego Car Accident Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in San Diego or Chula Vista, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer or contact us online.

We proudly serve San Diego County and throughout California.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108

(619) 777-5555

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – Chula Vista Office
690 Otay Lakes Rd #130, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 722-3032

We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – El Paso Office
201 E Main Suite 106, El Paso, Texas 79901
(915) 591-1000