Rights as a Passenger in a Missouri Car Accident


All drivers sharing the roadway have a duty to follow traffic laws and take reasonable measures to prevent causing an accident. When a driver’s careless or reckless actions breach their duty of care they are responsible for the accident and liable for damages to victims, including medical expenses, lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering. After the accident, an investigation takes place to determine which driver was at fault (in a two-car or multi-vehicle accident) or if both drivers share fault for the accident. But what happens when a passenger is injured in a car accident? A passenger is never at fault for a car accident. What are their rights after a crash?

Passenger in a car accident

Understanding Fault-Based Insurance States Like Missouri

Except for a handful of no-fault insurance states, most states require the at-fault party’s insurance company to cover damages to injury victims after an accident. In Missouri, an injury victim may recover compensation after a car accident if they are less than 51% at fault for the accident. Their compensation is minus their percentage of fault. For example, even if an injury victim is determined to have been 25% at fault for an accident they may recover $75,000 of a $100,000 claim. This is known as comparison negligence insurance law.

A passenger is never at fault for a car accident because they were not driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. Under the state’s comparison negligence insurance laws, an injured passenger has a right to recover 100% of their damages within the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage. Depending on who caused the accident or contributed to it, the passenger may file a claim against the driver of the vehicle they were riding in during the crash, or the driver of a second vehicle if that driver caused the accident. They may also file claims against both drivers’ insurance policies in a two-car accident in which both drivers contributed to the cause of the accident. Getting help from a car accident lawyer in St. Louis can hold the appropriate party accountable for any injuries sustained in the accident.

What If the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured or Under-Insured?

If the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have car insurance, or they carry only the minimum required insurance and it doesn’t cover the injured passenger’s damages, a passenger may file a claim against their own auto insurance policy if they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

What Compensation Can a Passenger Claim After a Car Accident in Missouri?

A passenger who suffers injuries in a car accident deserves compensation for the consequences of the injuries, known as their “damages.” The amount of compensation they recover depends on the severity of their injuries. Common compensation for injured passengers includes the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs
  • Lost income
  • Future lost earnings
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Any other non-economic damages that apply in a passenger’s unique circumstances such as disfigurement compensation for a facial injury, or compensation for loss of enjoyment of life after an injury causes disability
  • Wrongful death

Financial compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering cannot erase the pain or undo the injury but it helps open doors to the best possible medical care and eases financial hardship after an injury caused by someone else’s negligence. If a loved one was killed as a passenger in a car accident, a close family member such as a spouse, parent, or adult child may recover additional compensation in a wrongful death claim against the driver at fault for the accident.