Am I able to claim neck injury compensation if I was travelling in the same car as the negligent driver? I sustained severe neck injuries after my husband — who was above the legal alcohol limit — crashed into a wall.
Your entitlement to claim neck injury compensation is possible as the passenger of a negligent driver — however the amount of compensation to which you are entitled can be reduced if it is determined that you knowingly took a risk upon entering the car. It is true that passengers may sometimes be entitled to more compensation than drivers after a car accident. This is the case as unlike drivers, passengers often do not focus on the road and as a result they may not have the same split second to brace themselves for the impact of an accident as drivers often do. There is also the fact that passengers are frequently women and children who generally have weaker neck muscles, and consequently they may suffer more serious injuries.
A neck injury compensation claim can then be made if the driver has been negligent. While some may find this difficult if a family member or friend is the driver, it is important to remember that such claims are made against their insurance policy and is not a personal claim against the driver. The accident should be reported to the police — if it has not already been reported by your husband — and a record made in their Accident Report Book.
However it should be noted that the amount of neck injury compensation you may be able to claim could depend on whether you were aware that your husband was driving over the legal alcohol limit. If you were unaware, it may still be possible to claim the full amount of compensation. However if you knew that he was over the limit, it may occur that the compensation to which you may be entitled can be reduced if it is determined that you knowingly took a risk upon entering the car. This may also happen if a passenger entered a vehicle knowing that the driver was uninsured.
It is possible that your husband’s insurance company may challenge your compensation. As your husband was driving over the legal limit, the insurance company may claim that your own recklessness was a factor in your injuries, and offer you a compensation amount that is lower than what you are entitled to. For this reason, you are advised to consult a personal injury* solicitor at the earliest opportunity in order to determine whether you could be held partially liable for your own injuries, and the amount of neck injury compensation to which you may be entitled.