Bodily Injury Claims When You Were Injured While A Passenger In Your Own Vehicle

NeuwirthLawAuto Accidents

When terror strikes in the comfort of your own car…

Does this happen? Periodically. Can you make a claim for it? Absolutely. I have settled two cases like this for a total of $600,000 in the past few years in just this scenario. Most people only look at their bodily injury coverage as protection for when you injure someone else with your car. But, the insurance also covers you when you are a passenger. When does this happen? Recently, a client was injured when he was teaching a family member how to drive. The client was sitting in the front passenger seat in an empty suburban parking lot on a weekend. A police cruiser happened to drive into the complex on a routine patrol and the novice driver panicked and hit the gas instead of the brake. The car shot forward and crashed into a light pole’s concrete base. The client’s leg was broken and he underwent surgery. I made a claim for him for his limits of coverage, which was not enough to cover his injury.  The insurer did not respond immediately.

After waiting a month, I followed up and sent an inquiry to the insurer. Again, the insurer did not follow up. At this point, the insurer is risking a bad faith claim. Insurers are required to deal with their insureds in a good faith manner and are required to evaluate if there is coverage and whether the coverage applies. If there is coverage, they must make some reasonable effort to settle the case.

In this case, it turned out that the insurance rep who was receiving my correspondence was new or poorly trained and just kept sending me letters saying that the medical claim was closed out. Finally, I sent a bad faith letter pointing out that far too much time had passed and the carrier was not complying with its duties and a bad faith lawsuit was going to be coming soon.

Within a day, the carrier followed up and tendered its policy limits, which was the correct response. I think me and the claim rep both agreed that this was a case where the claim had slipped through the cracks, but posed substantial problems for the insurer if they continued to ignore me.

These bodily injury claims in your own car are infrequent claims in my book, but they do pop up and are usually entertaining factual scenarios.  So, sometimes, being injured in your own car by a family member or friend may have a positive financial outcome for you.