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Passenger accident claims

If you've been injured as a passenger in a car, taxi, on a bus or any other type of transport, you should be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries.

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Passenger Accident Claims

Being involved in a car accident is always a traumatic event. As a passenger, you have no control over your own safety other than wearing a seatbelt. All drivers have the legal duty to drive safely and carefully to avoid injuring passengers and other road users.

In the UK, there were an estimated 24,530 killed or seriously injured road accident casualties between 2020 and 2021 according to the Department for Transport. A surprisingly high number of these accidents are caused by uninsured drivers or a hit and run.

Most road traffic collisions result in minor or moderate injuries such as cuts and bruises, soft tissue injuries or simple fractures. In unfortunate cases, you may suffer severe back and neck injuries, brain trauma or spinal cord injuries that could lead to paralysis and even death.

If you or a loved were a passenger in a car accident, you might want to make a passenger accident claim. It is unlikely to have your liability disputed as a passenger, and you will likely receive compensation for the pain, suffering and any financial losses you incurred.

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Can I make a passenger accident claim?

In 2019 in the UK, 3,229 passengers were seriously injured in a road traffic accident, and 228 passengers were victims of a fatal collision. Young passengers under 17 years are more likely to be wounded in a traffic accident, making up over 16% of all casualties.

If you or a member of your family suffered an injury as a passenger in a car accident, there is a high chance you will have a successful compensation claim. Unlike the drivers involved in the collision, it is implausible that your liability will be put into question.

Therefore, it should be possible to make a passenger accident claim if:

  • you were injured in the last three years
  • somebody else owed you a duty of care
  • they acted negligently, causing the accident

You can usually make a passenger injury claim regardless of whether you were in the car responsible for the collision or another negligent road user has caused an accident.

You are entitled to claim compensation as a passenger travelling in any type of motor vehicle, including cars, bus accidents, coaches, motorbikes or trucks. You can even make a passenger claim if you were on a boat, ferry, aeroplane, train, or any other form of transportation.

To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation. Alternatively, enter your details into our online claim form, and you will receive a call back shortly.

How do I make a passenger accident claim?

The first step towards making a successful passenger accident claim is contacting a solicitor. They will help gather relevant evidence and prepare the required legal documents. Your solicitor will answer any questions you may have and give you impartial advice throughout the claiming process.

To make a claim, you will need to supply relevant evidence to prove that another party was responsible for your accident. It is also required to have proof of your injuries and any related financial expenses. Therefore, you should:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. If you sustained severe injuries, you should wait for an ambulance and not worry about anything else at the moment. Your solicitor will later assist you in collecting any other evidence needed to build a strong claim.
  • Ask for a copy of the medical records attesting to your injuries, any treatments or interventions you needed, and your recovery prospects. The amount of compensation you might receive depends to a great extent on the severity of your injuries.
  • When possible, try to get as many photographs of the accident scene from different angles. These can help establish liability if you decide to make a claim. However, you should not put yourself in any danger by trying to get such evidence.
  • Take pictures of your injuries and document your recovery process.
  • Write down your version of how the events unfolded before you forget any relevant details. Include the date, time of day, weather and road conditions, what you were doing before the accident and how the collision happened. Take note of your injuries and recovery and any struggles related to the accident.
  • Get the contact details of everyone involved in the accident and any possible witnesses. Drivers should also provide their vehicle and insurance details.
  • Get a copy of any dashcam or CCTV footage that might have captured the collision.
  • Report the accident to the authorities. This is an essential step in the claiming process and will be helpful as evidence in your claim. Any accident resulting in an injury must be reported to the police within 24 hours.
  • Document all the financial expenses you incurred due to your injuries, such as medical expenses, transportation costs, adaptations to your home or vehicle, property damage, costs of care, etc.

Your solicitor will prepare all the necessary paperwork to make a claim and will take the necessary steps to secure the maximum compensation award you could get. Seeing as you can hardly be deemed liable as a passenger in a car accident, your claim will most likely settle out of court.

If you want to make a passenger injury claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.


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What are my rights as an injured passenger in a car accident?

If you were in the passenger seat at the time of a car accident, you are entitled to claim compensation for any injuries and losses you incurred. Your right to make a claim isn’t affected by not being directly involved in the collision.

On the contrary, you have far more compensation rights, seeing that you can hardly be held liable for the accident. You are entitled to make a passenger injury claim against the responsible driver, another negligent road user that caused the accident, or the authorities responsible for road maintenance.

Based on the circumstances of the accident, your solicitor will help identify the liable party. Their insurance policy should pay for any damages you sustained.

In some situations, your compensation might be reduced due to contributory negligence. An example would be your willingness to get in the car with an intoxicated driver.

Who is responsible for car passenger safety?

From a legal point of view, all drivers and operators of a motor vehicle have the responsibility to drive safely, to avoid injuring their passengers or hitting other road users.

Some examples of driver negligence that might have caused the accident include:

  • speeding
  • using the phone or being otherwise distracted
  • driving drunk or otherwise intoxicated
  • aggressive driving
  • violating traffic laws
  • drowsy driving

The car driver may not always be responsible for a road accident. In certain situations, the liable party might be:

  • A vehicle manufacturer. If the driver lost control of the car due to a vehicle malfunction, they would not be held responsible for the accident.
  • A cyclist or pedestrian acting negligently, causing the vehicle to crash to avoid hitting them.
  • The authorities responsible for road maintenance if poor road conditions, such as large potholes, made it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle.

If you suffered an injury as a passenger in a taxi or bus, the company owner might be liable for your accident. Companies may skip mandatory inspections and regulations, sacrificing passenger safety for personal interests.

Most often, it is the negligence of one driver causing an accident. Other times, however, multiple parties might share liability for the accident. In this case, you will have to deal with multiple insurance companies and might have to file a separate passenger accident claim with each of them. Your solicitor would advise you on the best course of action to take in your particular situation.

car passenger injury

Can I claim against a friend or family member?

If you suffered an injury as a car passenger and the driver was a friend or a family member, you might hesitate to make a passenger injury claim. You might be worried that your claim will bring financial hardship to your loved ones.

If this is the case, there is no need to be in an awkward position. If you make a compensation claim, the driver’s insurance company will cover any damages you sustained in the accident.

Your claim might only affect their insurance premium. That is, your loved one will have to pay a higher insurance price in the future if they were responsible for an accident.

In 2018, an insurance comparison study showed that drivers liable for an accident might expect their premium to go up an average of £136 after an accident and an average increase of £102 if another party holds responsibility.

If other people are involved in the accident, and it gets reported to the police, they can expect a rise in their premium regardless of your passenger accident compensation claim.

Even if you suffered minor injuries, you could expect that the cost of medical treatment and lost earnings will be high. You might need financial support during your recovery, so it’s best to carefully weigh up the pros and cons before giving up your right to claim compensation against a family member or friend.

For any concerns about making a car passenger accident claim against a friend or family member, you can call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser.

Can I still make a claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?

Whether you’re driving a vehicle or travelling as a passenger, it is extremely important to wear a seatbelt for your own safety. With a few exceptions, you are also legally required to wear it, and you can be fined up to £500 when failing to do so.

However, since the accident was out of your control, you are still entitled to make a passenger accident claim even if you were not wearing your seatbelt, but the defendant might argue contributory negligence.

Depending on your injuries and the accident circumstances, the compensation award might be reduced if you were not wearing your seatbelt:

  • By 25%, if your injuries would have been avoided by wearing a seatbelt.
  • By 15%, in case your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a seatbelt.
  • If it can be argued that the seatbelt would have made no difference to your injuries, this might not affect the compensation award.

Ultimately, the court will decide what compensation reduction might be fair, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Can I make a passenger accident claim if the driver wasn’t insured?

Being involved in a road traffic accident can be very traumatising. Even if you didn’t sustain severe injuries, you might still be left with psychological trauma and substantial financial losses.

You might want to claim compensation for everything you’ve endured. If you discover that the liable driver was uninsured, you might worry that it is no longer possible to make a claim.

If this applies to your case, rest assured that you will still be able to claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). The MIB is an independent, non-profit organisation that pays road accident compensation to victims of uninsured drivers.

All insurance companies are required to contribute part of every driver’s mandatory insurance to the MIB each year. This way, the victims of uninsured drivers can still receive the compensation they need to move on with their lives.

According to MIB estimates, over 26,000 people are left injured, and around 130 are killed by uninsured or hit and run drivers yearly in the UK. Sadly, that makes up approximately 16% of all annual road casualties, making it a concerning problem.

If you were injured as a passenger by an uninsured driver, your solicitor will claim through the MIB. They will investigate your case and pay you compensation if the uninsured driver is found liable for your accident.

Can I claim on behalf of my child?

If a child suffered an injury in a road traffic accident, one of the parents can act as a litigation friend and claim compensation on their behalf. If you want to make a passenger accident claim on behalf of your child, you will need to fill in a certificate of suitability which states that:

  • you can fairly and competently conduct proceedings on behalf of your child
  • you have no interests adverse to those of the child

It would not be appropriate for you to act as a litigation friend if you were driving the car when the accident happened, as this may give rise to a conflict of interests with the child.

Every child has the right to receive compensation if they sustained injuries as a passenger in a car accident, regardless of liability disputes. In child injury claims, you can get compensation for:

  • current and future medical expenses
  • cost of psychological support
  • lost wages, if you had to take time off work
  • home tutors
  • the child’s pain and suffering, including emotional distress
  • impaired development
  • loss of social interactions
  • changes in the quality of life

All child injury claims have to be settled in court so that a Judge can decide if they are getting fair compensation for their injuries.

Parents can only access the awarded compensation to cover medical or education costs that the family can’t otherwise afford. Usually, the money will be held in court funds and released to the child by cheque once they turn 18.

What types of injuries can a passenger claim compensation for?

You can make a passenger accident claim for any type of injury you suffered, no matter how minor. If your claim is successful, the compensation you receive will nonetheless depend on the severity of your injuries and how they affected your life.

Specific injuries that are more likely in a car accident are:

  • Facial injuries. Injuries to the face can be particularly traumatic since they represent who we are and contain most of our senses. Scarring and disfigurement may cause distress long after the accident, and you might need many expensive and painful surgeries to correct the damage. Facial injuries may be caused by shattered glass, hitting the airbag, flying objects or being ejected from the car. You might suffer open wounds, facial burns or fractures; the most common injury to the face is a nasal bone fracture.
  • Head injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe brain damage. During a car accident, you might be subject to a sudden and violent movement which may cause your head to hit the car’s interior. Depending on the impact, you can get mild concussions that might resolve within weeks or even severe brain injuries that could change your life forever.
  • Neck injuries. During a collision, your neck may suddenly bounce forward and backwards or side to side, which could result in injuries like muscle strains or ligament strains. Foreign objects might cause injuries like abrasions and lacerations. A profound trauma can cause spinal and nerve damage.
  • Whiplash is maybe the most common neck injury associated with car accidents. It occurs when your head is violently thrown backwards and then forward due to sudden braking or getting hit from behind. This might injure the soft tissue in your neck, causing pain, numbness, headaches, stiffness and neurological disorders. The symptoms usually develop a few days after the accident.
  • Spinal injuries after a car accident can be severe and life-changing. Common injuries include herniated discs and vertebral fractures, which can cause temporary or permanent paralysis if there’s damage to the nerves.
  • Limb injuries. A forceful collision can lead to ligament injuries, lacerations, crush injuries, soft tissue injuries, fractures or nerve damage in your arms or legs. In extreme cases, a car accident can result in amputation or severe damage that requires the removal of the limb.
  • Extremely violent accidents may result in fatal injuries.

If you sustained multiple injuries, the final compensation award is not calculated by simply adding the compensations for each particular one. Instead, the upper bracket of the most severe trauma is considered the starting point, and a deduction will be applied to the less severe injuries.

car passenger compensation

How much compensation can I claim for a passenger injury?

If you suffered an injury as a passenger in a car accident, you might want to claim compensation for all your physical, psychological and financial distress.

If you decide to start legal proceedings, calculating a suitable compensation amount will factor in the general damages and special damages you incurred.

Special damages include all the financial losses and expenses related to the accident, such as:

  • medical expenses, including private visits, medication and physiotherapy
  • any care-related costs, even if provided by a family member
  • modifications to your home or vehicle
  • travel expenses
  • costs of psychological support and rehabilitation
  • loss of current and future earnings

General damages cover pain, suffering and personal losses like:

  • physical and psychological trauma
  • loss of companionship
  • loss of prospects and enjoyment
  • inability to pursue a hobby
  • loss of a unique career
  • disfigurement and scarring
  • loss or impairment of mental capacity

General damages are not easily quantifiable and depend on the victim’s unique situation. The Judicial College Guidelines are used as a starting point when calculating compensation for general damages. According to their figures, you could get:

  • £18,020 to £45,070 for a severe shoulder injury
  • £5,630 – £16,380 for fractured forearms
  • £2,300 to £7,410 for a mild whiplash injury
  • £7,780 – £12,010 for a fractured femur
  • £90,250 to £122,860 for severe arm injuries
  • Up to £36,390 for moderate back injuries
  • Up to £35,790 for facial injuries
  • Around £139,210 for severe neck injuries
  • £264,650 to £379,100 for very severe brain injuries
  • £186,890 – £242,490 for paraplegia
  • £304,630 to £379,100 for quadriplegia

An experienced solicitor can let you know what compensation amount you could expect based on your injuries and the circumstances of your accident. You can speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation or entering your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.

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What is the time limit for making a passenger injury claim?

In general, you have up to three years from the day of your car passenger accident to start a compensation claim. The last date you can begin legal proceedings is known as the claim limitation date. After this, your case will become statute-barred, and you will no longer be able to claim.

The three-year limitation date may not apply in certain circumstances:

  • If the date of knowledge of your injury does not coincide with the day of the accident, the three-year countdown starts on the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis. This can often happen if you suffer whiplash.
  • For claims involving children, a litigation friend can make a passenger accident claim on their behalf at any time before turning 18. Afterwards, they will have another three years to start claiming themselves.
  • There are no time limits to make a passenger injury claim in the name of a victim who is not mentally capable of conducting legal proceedings. The three-year countdown starts if they regain their mental ability.
  • In the case of fatal accidents, the family can claim compensation within three years from the date of death.
  • For car accidents that took place outside of the UK, the time limits to start a claim can vary significantly and might be as short as six months.

Regardless of the limitation date that might apply to your case, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible. Gathering the required evidence and preparing all the necessary documents could take a long time, and most solicitors don’t accept a case if more than 30 months have passed since your car passenger accident.

Will I be offered a no win no fee service?

As a passenger in a car accident, you have a high chance to make a successful passenger injury claim. Therefore, your solicitor will almost certainly offer you a no win no fee agreement.

With a no win no fee claim, you can ask for compensation without having to worry about any legal fees or upfront charges. The After the Event insurance policy your solicitor will take on your behalf covers all the legal costs for you and the defendant, even if you end up losing the claim.

You will only have to pay a success fee to your solicitor if you win your claim. The success fee depends on the amount of time and work they invested in your case and cannot surpass 25% of your compensation. You will agree upon it before starting the legal proceedings.

If you suffered a road traffic injury as a car passenger, you deserve compensation. If you feel you may have a valid passenger accident claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser.

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Speak to a legal advisor, today!

Friendly legal advisors are available to discuss your passenger accident claim today.

  • Find out if you have a valid claim
  • A risk free, no win no fee service
  • We are available 7 days a week
  • Experienced personal injury lawyers

*Personal injury claims are provided on a no win no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive a success fee of up to 25% of your compensation. If any additional costs could be payable, such as taking out legal protection insurance, these would be fully explained upfront by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply based on time spent on your case, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation, deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing. Please visit our guide to no win no fee claims page for further information.


Last edited on 17th Jul 2024

With over 15 years in the legal industry, Nicholas Tate has a wealth of knowledge and experience covering all types of personal injury and clinical negligence claims.