Drivers are not the only people who can suffer serious and life-changing injuries in car accidents. Vehicle passengers can also be affected. Since passengers are rarely held responsible for causing car accidents, they are typically eligible for financial compensation from one of the drivers’ auto insurance companies. However, there are marked exceptions to this rule in Colorado.
Colorado uses a fault-based car accident system to determine financial responsibility, or liability, for a crash. Under this rule, which is present in the majority of states, the driver or party at fault for causing a car accident must pay for related bills and damages. Liability is typically assigned to the party that was negligent, careless or violated a traffic law.
In Colorado, every motor vehicle driver is required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance. This type of automobile insurance will pay for bodily injury or property damage to another person after an at-fault accident. The minimum required amounts in Colorado are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury insurance, plus $15,000 in property damage liability coverage.
If a passenger is injured in a car accident, his or her losses may be covered under the driver of the vehicle’s liability insurance policy. While the at-fault driver’s bills might not qualify for coverage under his or her own policy, liability insurance pays for injured passengers inside the vehicle. However, a passenger’s right to sue in Colorado depends on the relationship between the passenger and driver.
Most insurance companies in Colorado exclude immediate family members from a car insurance policy. This means that the husband or wife of the at-fault driver may be unable to file a claim against his or her immediate family member. Friends and extended family, on the other hand, are typically included in a liability insurance policy. This rule is in place to prevent couples and families from working together to commit insurance fraud.
On the other hand, the right to sue another driver – a driver outside of the vehicle the passenger is riding in – is typically available. If another driver is found to be at fault for the car accident, his or her liability insurance will offer at least $50,000 to cover the medical expenses of every person injured in the accident, including passengers present in the other car.
If coverage is not available from one of the motor vehicle drivers’ insurance policies, an injured passenger may still have other financial recovery options available. For example, if the passenger has uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage on his or her own car insurance policy, this could pay for the passenger’s damages if the driver of the vehicle does not have enough liability insurance or it does not extend to the victim.
Another option could be a lawsuit against a third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective vehicle part or the government agency in charge of roadway maintenance and repairs. A company may be held liable for a passenger’s injuries if its employee caused the crash, such as a truck driver, delivery driver, or Uber or Lyft driver. Determining liability for a passenger’s injuries may require an investigation into who or what caused the accident.
Every car accident case is unique. The best way to protect yourself if you get injured as a vehicle passenger is to discuss your legal options with a car accident lawyer in Denver.