Injured As a Car Passenger? Why Compensation May Not Be Cut and Dry
Most people take car transportation for granted and may find themselves a passenger in such a vehicle most days of the week as they carpool on their way to work. They may feel relatively safe on board and trust the driver implicitly, but sometimes accidents can happen, and if so, they will be covered by the owner's insurance policy. However, this is not always the case and you may need to think carefully about your exposure in certain circumstances. What should you be aware of?
Australian regulations stipulate that every car owner has to have a minimum amount of insurance coverage before they can get behind the wheel and take to the road. This has to cover them should they be negligent and cause injury or damage to third parties, and usually, this will include any passengers in their own vehicle at the same time. However, those passengers have to be aware of what they are doing at all times and, in some circumstances, should decide not to get into the car.
Assessing the Driver
For example, they may suspect that the driver is not fully competent. Perhaps he or she had been out celebrating the night before and this was a particularly late-night. They may have had a few hours in bed in the meantime, but it "smells" as if they haven't fully recovered. If the passenger was aware of this condition and still decided to travel before being involved in an accident, their eligibility for damages could be reduced.
As a passenger, you have some legal responsibilities as well whenever you travel in any vehicle. At the top of this list is the requirement to wear a seatbelt, and yet, many people still ignore this. Don't be surprised, therefore, if your compensation is reduced if you're injured through this omission.
Certainly, there can be mitigating circumstances in any situation and you may be able to build a case in your defence. Perhaps you had to get to an emergency treatment centre as quickly as possible and there were no other transport alternatives, or you were unable to wear the seat belt for some reason.
If you find yourself in this delicate position and feel that you will have to fight your case for compensation, you should chat with an experienced lawyer first to see how they may be able to help you. Remember, the law is not always black and white.