Those who ride as passengers in cars or on motorcycles are subject to the actions and omissions of the driver to keep them safe. Any mistake a driver makes could expose a passenger to serious injuries if the car collides with another car or an object on the road. Sometimes the driver with whom you're riding may be a friend or family member, and this can make it awkward to seek damages from them. If you were an injured passenger, the experienced Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca can assess your case and potentially help you seek compensation for the harm you have suffered.Injured Passengers
Mistakes that are made by a driver can result in serious injuries to passengers. Often passengers have nothing to do with the driver’s mistakes, and yet they may be catastrophically injured or killed. If you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to pursue damages from all the parties whose negligence caused your injuries. This means that passengers can try to recover damages for injuries from the driver of the vehicle they were in as well as the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident.Suing for Negligence
In order to recover damages, you will likely need to prove negligence. This means you will need to prove that the defendant: (1) owed you a duty, (2) breached that duty, (3) caused your injuries, and (4) you have actual damages as a result. Sometimes the only defendant will be the driver with whom you were riding. However, in other cases, the negligence of more than one driver contributed to passenger injuries, and it's necessary to bring all the potentially responsible parties into a lawsuit. Often injured passengers feel uncomfortable about suing the friend or family member who was driving. However awkward you may find this, in most cases, insurers pay accident victims. It is rare for a plaintiff to recover damages from a driver's personal assets.
When there are catastrophic or serious injuries involved, it may matter what insurance coverage different drivers have. A driver's insurer has a contractual duty to pay for crash-related injuries to which their insured contributed. Sometimes a brother may need to sue his sister in order to recover damages from the sister's insurer, for example.
Sometimes a child is injured or killed while riding with a family member or friend. However, in most cases, your lawyer will discuss and negotiate with the family member or friend's insurance company and attorney. This creates a buffer between the child's parents and the defendant who is close to them.Holding the Responsible Parties Accountable
Illinois has adopted the doctrine of modified joint and several liability. Any defendant who is found to be less than 25% responsible for the damages is held only proportionately responsible for any non-medical damages. In other words, if the driver whose car you were in is found to be only 20% liable for an accident, he would only be 20% liable for lost wages, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment. However, any defendants found to be 25% or more responsible for an accident will be held jointly and severally liable for all damages. So, if the driver of another car was 80% responsible for the accident in which you were injured, he or she can be held jointly and severally liable for all the damages.
Damages you may be able to recover include economic and noneconomic items of loss. Examples of economic losses include medical bills, lost wages, and replacement services. Examples of noneconomic losses include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. While economic damages tend to be fixed and documented, noneconomic damages can vary dramatically depending on the particular jury and the experience of the attorney telling your story to the court.Car Accident Attorneys Helping Chicago Passengers
If you are an injured passenger hurt in Chicago, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent accident victims in Champaign, Aurora, Quincy, Rockford, and Springfield, as well as Cook, Sangamon, Adams, Champaign, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. Please call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.