The simple answer is that you recover from the person who is at fault. Of course, with nearly 30 years as Colorado auto accident attorneys, we know that there’s no such thing as a simple answer.
The first recovery resource available to you as a passenger in the vehicle of a non-household member is insurance coverage. In Colorado’s fault-based system of insurance:
- Drivers must carry liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury (including yours as a passenger), as well as $15,000 per accident for property damage.
- Unless drivers specifically opt out, insurers must also provide at least $5,000 of medical payment (called med-pay) coverage to handle initial medical costs like emergency or trauma care for the driver or passengers, regardless of who is at fault. Once the med-pay limit is reached, your health insurance can kick in. If someone else is liable, you and your health insurer can be compensated later.
- Unless they specifically opt out, Colorado drivers should also have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If the other driver is at fault and does not have insurance you may still be covered by your driver’s policy. (If you’re a passenger in an uninsured motorist’s car, and they are the one at fault, that’s another story ― see the last paragraph below.)
Whoever is found to be at fault, it’s not likely to be you as a passenger. You’ll be assumed to be an innocent victim in an auto accident unless you either
- Committed an overt action to distract or impair the driver, or
- Knowingly got into a car with a driver who was intoxicated.
If insurance coverage isn’t sufficient to compensate you for medical bills and other damages such as pain, suffering and loss of income ― or if you feel pressured to sign an insurance company settlement ― it may be time to consult with an experienced auto injury attorney to explore your rights to fair and full compensation.