Passenger Injured When Driver Hit a Tree...

by Josh
(Mcleod, TX, USA)

On Friday January 13, 2012, I was riding with a buddy of mine in his car. Just he and I were in the car and no other cars were involved in the accident. My buddy went into a curve and lost control, hit the ditch and then a pine tree head on.

We both were hurt, but my buddy (the driver) was injured very badly. He broke a lot of bones and isn't expected to walk again for a year. He was not wearing his seat belt. I on the other hand had my seat belt on, but managed to bump my head and was knocked unconscious for roughly 10 minutes.

I woke up outside of the car in the ditch. I don't know if I was thrown from the vehicle or pulled out by someone, I had my seat belt on but no one recalls pulling me out of the car. My knee was busted open and was bleeding everywhere. The worst pain of all was the burning/pinching pain in my lower back, which I found out was a torn lower back muscle.

My medical bills have reached just over $6K so far, including CT and Full body scans, shots, stitches, prescription medications and the ambulance ride. I'm almost fully healed now and can get around. My shoulders are still sore and my knee gives me problems (and probably will for the rest of my life I'm told). But it's nothing compared to my buddy who's cleared over 100k in med bills, and his costs will continue to climb.

Okay, here's the thing... this is my best friend. I know relationships and business should be kept separate, and I think he understands that. He has liability insurance but it is "Limited/Minimum" or something like that. I have sought counsel and was told that because his insurance is Limited/Minimum I'll receive hardly anything at all, even though I was the passenger.

That just doesn't seem right to me. I've read that most Minimum coverages are around 10 to 15k, average around 30k, and there is a separate amount for passengers.

If my medical bills are just over 6k, why would I be told that nothing will come of it?

I cannot afford these bills myself nor can I seek help from my own insurance because I don't have any. I don't have a vehicle to cover and I've been unemployed for a while now. I'm not unable to work but still laid off and very stressed over the situation. I walk with a slight limp now and I'm not sure if potential employers will frown on that or not.

I believe being passenger I should be compensated for my injuries and bills. At this point in my life I'd be lying if I said I'm not a money hungry person, because we all are. But I am not a thief trying to take advantage of the situation. I'd be happy if my medical bills were paid and I received a little extra for all the trouble I've been through.

I've read also that theoretically a good settlement offer should be at least 3x the amount of the medical bills. So I'm not sure or why I'm being lowballed and being told I may not receive anything.

Any thoughts? Thanks for any info you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Passenger Injured When Driver Hit a Tree...":

Josh (Mcleod, TX, USA)

Unfortunately, in the State of Texas the minimum insurance liability limits are 30/60/25. That's $30,000 in liability insurance for the first, or only injured person, $60,000 in liability insurance for more than one injured party, and $25,000 for property damage.

That means for more than one injured person the maximum amount of liability insurance available is $60,000 dollars. Unfortunately that is the amount which will apply to you.

If, as you say, your friend had the state minimum liability insurance the amount of insurance available is $60,000 dollars, and no more. As a result, you are constrained to that amount unless you want to consider another avenue.

That avenue will be the one which will move you past the $60,000 dollars. It will involve pursuing a legal action against your good friend. As difficult as that might be it may be your only alternative, especially as there weren't any other vehicles involved in the collision.

Whether you want to sue him personally or not will be entirely up to you.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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Insurance Limits...
by: Law Guy


Your initial remarks indicate you sought the advice of counsel. If you have retained an attorney you must heed his or her advice. That's because your attorney is in possession of the medical documentation, insurance company correspondence, and other valuable information required to properly evaluate your claim.

With that said you must understand the ONLY insurance available to settle your case and that of your friend's is $60,000 dollars. That's it...and not a penny more.

Because your friend's medical bills have exceeded $100,000 dollars you will be fortunate to receive enough money to cover your medical bills.

If you are persuasive enough they may pay a small amount for your collision-related expenses including out of pocket costs, which may include your prescription and over the counter medications, your lost wages during the time you were treating and recovering, and a small amount for your "pain and suffering".

Your job, or your attorney's, is to convince the insurance company to break down the $60,000 dollars so as to compensate you for the above costs.

The problem though is this...

If the insurance company pays you any more than just your medical bills, they will be depriving some of your friend's medical creditors from their earned fees.

Right now you can be sure the insurance company is already working out "compromise" agreements with your friend's medical creditors, possibly offering to pay them a total of only 40% - 50% of their fees. That's because there remains only $60,000 dollars of insurance money available.

The issue will come down to what the insurance company thinks is more important. Paying the medical bills, or paying you for your out of pocket expenses, lost wages or pain and suffering.

You can be pretty confident they will pay the medical creditors first. They have to deal with these people on a daily basis. Doing so often requires asking them to cut their fees in half or more. If they have to alienate anyone, it will be you first and the medical creditors second.

At this point you should be relieved if they pay all of your medical bills. They don't really have to. Instead they can treat your medical creditors just as they are probably treating your friend's. That's compromising, or cutting your medical bills.

If they do that you may be hearing from your medical creditors asking you to pay the balance.

by: Josh

60k is way over what I'm asking/expecting for the insurance. My debt for medical bills isn't over 7k. I'm only asking for around 10k in compensation to pay off my debt and a little for the time away from work.

Is that not reasonable even by the insurance companies? Being that there was coverage, and I was an innocent passenger, why am I to receive nothing?

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