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I Was Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident. Can I Sue the Driver?

Many car accident posts focus on what injured drivers can do after an accident, but few explain what happens to injured passengers. As an injured passenger, you can take action against the at-fault drivers involved.

Who is Liable for Passenger Injuries?

In every personal injury claim, proving liability determines who will face legal responsibility for associated injuries. A driver will usually face liability in a passenger’s third-party liability claim.

One or more drivers may bear some percentage of responsibility in multiple-vehicle accidents. Most rear-ending collisions have a clear at-fault driver, but other accidents are not as straightforward. In a case involving one speeding, distracted driver and one drunk driver, a passenger may file a claim against both parties for their respective percentages of liability. In multi-defendant claims, the jury will divide the total worth of the claim among at-fault parties. The drunk driver, for example, would likely face responsibility for a large percentage of the damage award (80%) while the speeding and distracted driver may only face liability for 20%.

In single-vehicle incidents, the driver may or may not face legal liability depending on the circumstances. Some accidents are outside of a driver’s control. The passenger may be able to file a claim against the automobile manufacturer for defective product-related accidents or against a company for rideshare/taxi or corporate use accidents.

Liability in passenger injury claims varies widely. The individual circumstances of an accident determine who pays and how much. Passengers often partner with local car accident attorneys to protect their rights to fair compensation.

Challenges in Passenger Injury Claims

Certain challenges can prevent passengers from receiving financial support after an accident. If, for instance, the driver is a relative, you may not have access to liability benefits. Instead, you may qualify as an insured individual and may need to file a claim against the policy’s medical payments or personal injury protection coverage, if available.

Cases involving multiple passengers can affect the total recovery amount a person receives. Most policies contain liability limits. If multiple passengers need access to insurance benefits, they must share coverage up to the limits of the policy or policies. Unless the passengers have grounds for a tangential lawsuit, they may not have access to additional compensation after an accident.

What Should Vehicle Passengers Do After an Accident?

Passengers will not automatically receive compensation after an accident. Like others involved, they must take steps after the accident to protect their claims. After an accident:

  • Remain at the scene. Do not leave until you talk to responding officers and collect insurance information from the involved drivers or until emergency responders take you to the hospital.
  • Record the evidence. Take pictures, ask for witness information, and keep detailed medical records of your after-accident experience. These pieces of evidence will help you prove your claim for compensation.
  • Talk to an attorney. Many car accident attorneys offer free case evaluations. Talk to the local San Bernardino accident attorneys at Estey & Bomberger, LLP about your case and the possibilities for compensation. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of filing insurance claims and lawsuits in passenger-injury cases.

Passengers are rarely at risk for accident liability, but they can jeopardize their rights to compensation if they don’t take appropriate actions after an incident. If you suffered an injury as a passenger, collect insurance information and contact an attorney if you need help. You have a right to compensation after a negligence-based accident.

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