Passenger Injuries: First Party Claims

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As a passenger in an auto accident, you can sometimes feel like the biggest victim. Nothing you could have done could prevent the accident. And sometimes it can feel like no one wants to be responsible for paying for passenger injuries. Don’t worry. Your medical expenses will be covered. The question is, by whom?

First Party insurance claims for passenger injuries can create headaches for injured riders and attorneys alike because of something called “priority.” Auto insurance companies will often fight over who is responsible to pay for passenger injuries, leaving the victim caught in the middle.

Who Pays for Passenger Injuries

Which auto insurance company has “priority” for passenger injuries depends on what kind of vehicle was being ridden, and what insurance policies are available. The “priority” is a ranking between those policies described in the Michigan No-Fault Act. Defense attorneys will sometimes file motions claiming that their auto insurance company isn’t the “first priority,” so they should be allowed out of your case.

But priority really isn’t all that complicated. Here’s the list:

  1. Your own policy. If you have a no-fault auto insurance policy, it is the first priority to pay for your passenger injuries.
  2. Resident Relatives. If you don’t have a policy but you live with a family member who does, you are covered by that policy.
  3. Vehicle Owner. Next comes the insurance company that covers the car you were in when you were injured.
  4. Driver of Your Vehicle. If you were riding in an uninsured vehicle, it is up to your driver’s policy to pay for your passenger injuries.
  5. Other Vehicle Owner. Once everything having to do with your vehicle is exhausted, you turn to the other vehicle involved in the accident. The owner’s policy applies next.
  6. Other Driver. If that vehicle too was uninsured, the other driver’s policy applies.
  7. Assigned Claims Facility. If none of the other options are available, your case will be assigned to one of the state’s licensed auto insurers by an entity called the Assigned Claims Facility.

What Were You Riding

Some special vehicles are exceptions to these rules. Employer-owned vehicles and professional transportation vehicles (like limousines) cut through the priority list. If you are injured in one of these vehicles, your claim goes directly to the vehicle owner.

If you are riding public transit, like a school bus, city bus, or licensed taxi, priority still applies. Rather than going to the assigned claims facility, the priority ends with the owner of that vehicle, even if it is a government department. But if you have access to any other policy, the government won’t be responsible for your First Party claims.

Deciding which auto insurance company to file your claim with is hard, and it’s a decision you have to make early on. That’s why you should talk to an experienced auto accident attorney right after your accident to make sure you don’t make the wrong decision when it comes to your passenger injuries.