Passenger Injured in a Car Accident?

What Are the Passengers Rights in a Sacramento Car Accident?

A passenger in a vehicle is just as susceptible to injury in an accident as the driver is.

Every time you get into a car, there is the potential that you can be involved in a car accident regardless of whether you are in the driver’s or passenger seat.

California is an at-fault state, and that means that when a collision occurs, someone must be found responsible and made liable for paying for any injuries or damage. But what does that mean for passengers? Does it matter if your driver was at fault or not?

If you are involved a Sacramento vehicle accident and are a passenger, then you have the same rights as the driver to be awarded financial and other damages. Regardless who was at fault for the accident, the passengers injuries are covered. Even if the driver of your vehicle was negligent, you still are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.

passenger injury

Sacramento Car Accident Passengers Rights

“Negligence” means that either a driver did something that directly caused the accident or that they failed to take action, and it was that failure to act that led to the collision itself. If you are a passenger, the driver being negligent has no relevance on your compensation. That certainly does not mean, however, that if you are in an accident, that you don’t need to consult a Sacramento car accident attorney to be safe.

Just like the drivers of the car, the passenger will have to deal with the insurance company as well. The disappointing reality is that the job of the insurance company is not to make sure that everyone who is injured receives all that they are entitled to. Just like any other business, insurance companies are about making money, and will try to reduce the amount of payout to protect the interests of shareholders. But as a passenger, your claim may be much easier to negotiate. Since it makes no difference who was at fault, your claim should be simpler than for the drivers who are involved.

The insurance company will calculate a settlement offer so that the case doesn’t have to go to trial, which will likely be far more expensive than a settlement. Generally speaking, a settlement is the best way to deal with a car accident. But there are times when an insurance company will not pay what they are required, and you might have to escalate the claim. It is best always to have a qualified and experienced car accident attorney battle with the insurance company for you. The first offer is almost always negotiable, and if you don’t know what you are entitled to by consulting a Sacramento car accident attorney, then there is no way you can be sure if you are getting the full amount of compensation that you deserve.

If you are the passenger of a car and injured in a car accident, it is crucial that you talk to an experienced, Sacramento-based car accident attorney to know what damages you are entitled to and to make certain that you are getting all of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Who is liable in if Passengers are injured in an accident?

Fault for a collision can be difficult to determine at times, but it is typically attributed to the driver who make the decision or decisions that resulted in the accident.

However, proving liability requires establishing the four legal elements of negligence:

[bsf-info-box icon=”none” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#124075″ title=”1. Duty of Care” pos=”square_box” box_border_style=”solid” box_border_width=”1″]A driver has a duty to you and other motorists to drive safely and keep you from undue harm. This duty entails remaining in the lane and obeying traffic signs and laws.[/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”none” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#124075″ title=”2. Breach of Duty” pos=”square_box” box_border_style=”solid” box_border_width=”1″]If a driver engages in high-risk behavior such as speeding, texting and driving, or driving under the influence, he has failed to uphold the duty of care.[/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”none” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#124075″ title=”3. Causation” pos=”square_box” box_border_style=”solid” box_border_width=”1″]The breach caused your accident, e.g., the other driver entered the highway going the wrong direction and crashed into your car.[/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”none” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#124075″ title=”4. Damages” pos=”square_box” box_border_style=”solid” box_border_width=”1″]You must substantiate your injuries and damage, through medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of future earning potential.[/bsf-info-box]

To establish negligence, your Sacramento auto accident attorney will collect police reports, photos of the vehicles and accident scene, and witness statements. Your lawyer may also use your medical records, bills, wage and earnings data, and medical expert testimony to prove your damages.

What types of injuries are common for passengers?


Subcutaneous hematomas are a collection of blood within the subcutaneous tissue. These are commonly called bruises. This may occur from a tear of blood vessels in the skin, subcutaneous tissue or muscle. Further investigation is necessary to rule-out internal tissue damage like a fracture, dislocation or a visceral tear (internal organ), which often depends on the area of the body and the size of the hematoma. If the hematoma is over 2-4 inches in diameter, further investigation in an emergency room should be done.

whiplash injuries


Whiplash Injuries affect the most vulnerable and delicate  part of our bodies, the neck, and whiplash can occur with head-on, side or rear impact collisions causing hyperflexion of the tissues and structures of the neck. Whiplash can also be used to describe lower body injuries depending on the impact and the position of the body at the time of the accident as well as the site of the injury. Whiplash injury can cause joint injury, muscle tears, ligament injury, joint dislocation, and tears to viscera (internal organs) and/or blood vessels.

tbi scanImpact of the head or neck can cause can cause mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) also referred to as a concussion. This can lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, and vertigo (a sensation of spinning). Further investigation with a CT scan of the head is recommended to rule out further damage. A severe blow to the head can cause bleeding in the brain, which can be life threatening. Traumatic brain injury severity is commonly categorized into one of three different groups: severe, moderate, or mild. The severity of the injury is typically based on how long a loss of consciousness took place, and/or coma rating scale or score, (PTA) and the results of brain imaging.

bone and joint injuryBlunt injury at the time of impact may cause bone or joint fracture or dislocation, which can also lead to tears in the ligaments or joint capsule (sprain) or tear of the muscles or tendons (strain) leading to further investigation such as x-rays or MRI. Bone and joint injuries can including skeletal injuries of the spine leading to pain in the neck, back, extremities ranging from mild to severe and possibly even cause disc bulge or herniated disc. Skeletal injury of the chest wall may result in multiple rib fractures, which could lead to a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

spinal injuryA spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that causes changes in its function, either temporary or permanent. These changes translate into loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function in parts of the body served by the spinal cord below the level of the lesion. Injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord and can be classified as complete injury, a total loss of sensation and muscle function, or incomplete, meaning some nervous signals are able to travel past the injured area of the cord. Depending on the location and severity of damage along the spinal cord, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain or numbness to paralysis to incontinence.

seat belt injuryWhile seat belts can prevent injury, they can also cause injury. This is surprisingly one of the most common automobile accident injuries. Mild injuries would include bruising or abrasion either across the chest or across the abdomen whereas moderate and severe injuries could include fractured ribs and resulting lung injury from the shoulder strap and injury to internal organs from the lap belt.

airbag abrasionsWhile airbags can prevent injury, they can also cause injury. This is surprisingly one of the most common automobile accident injuries. Mild injuries would include bruising or abrasions to the hands, arms, chest and face. Air bags can also cause fractures or the nose, facial bones and hands or wrists too. Occasionally, individuals wearing glasses can be sustain injuries to the eyes as well

Contact a Sacramento Car Accident Attorney

If you were a passenger in someone else’s car and were injured in a car accident, contact The Law Offices of Zappettini and Bradley by phone at 916-457-5022, or fill out our online contact form. We understand that monetary compensation can never return a person’s health or erase the lasting effects of a personal injury. However, it can alleviate many of the day-to-day problems confronted by the victim and their family.

What to do if you were involved in an accident

Because a car crash is completely unanticipated, its impact often takes us by surprise. In an instant, your life can be turned upside down and this could take a huge toll emotionally, physically, and financially. During the aftermath of an auto accident, there are specific actions that you can take that will help protect your legal rights while simultaneously positioning you to recover. The following tips will help you on the track to a quick recovery.

You should always check the condition of everyone who was involved in the accident and call 911 if necessary. Make sure you tell first responders detailed information about the crash as well as any symptoms you are having. Be aware that adrenaline is our body’s natural painkiller, and it is easy to under-rate an injury in the moment.  Always request a complete examination and follow all of the doctor’s orders for treatment. .

Call the police immediately and ask them to write up a report that details the car accident. Ask the officer for a copy of his report and keep this write-up for your own records. Your auto accident attorney will use this report to prepare your claim.

Recording what happened during an accident is best done immediately. Be sure to write down information (including the name, contact info, driver’s license number, and insurance information) for everyone involved. Taking pictures of the scene is helpful too, in addition to vehicle placement and damage, these images of the scene provide definitive proof of what happened. Make sure you get close-up shots as well as wide shots of the entire scene. It is a good idea to keep parts of the vehicle that broke off during impact. Those parts can be examined for clues to how the crash occurred.

You should watch what you say to other parties involved in the accident, to bystanders, and to insurance agents. Any admission you made can limit your ability in bringing forth a claim later. Instead, let your lawyer handle these kinds of communications.

If anyone was injured in the accident, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you maximize your recovery if you’re injured or better defend yourself if you’re at fault. Many accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means that your lawyer only receives a fee if you’re awarded damages or receive a settlement.