It’s rare for passengers to be accused of causing a car accident. In most cases they are the victims of someone else’s negligence. It could be the driver of the car they are a passenger in, another driver altogether, or some other party, like a truck company, government agency, road maintenance department etc.
In most car accident personal injury cases the emphasis tends to be on the driver of the vehicle that has been hit but of course often there are other people in that car who may have been as badly injured as the driver. Those injured passengers in some ways have an easier opportunity to file a claim against whoever ultimately was to blame for the injuries as it would be unlikely to have to deal with an accusation of shared fault. This is quite a common situation when an injured driver files a claim with another diver’s insurer. The insurer alleges that the injured plaintiff was partly or even wholly to blame for the accident.
Who can the passenger sue?
An injured passenger can only sue the at-fault party (or parties) if there is evidence that negligence caused the injury and that the party being sued was negligent. There are several different scenarios, each of which has its own particular challenges.
Scenario 1: The driver of the vehicle the injured passenger is in is at fault
This should be straightforward. The driver has a duty of care for anyone in the same vehicle. If the driver falls asleep, drives too fast, runs a red light, drives while drunk, or crashes while texting, then the driver may be liable for any injuries sustained by passengers. It may get a bit more complicated if the driver is a family member or a close friend, but this doesn’t alter the right of the passenger to claim compensation through the driver’s insurance policy. If the injuries are severe and the policy maximum cover is insufficient, then the injured passenger has the right to file a personal injury claim.
The passenger may also be in a commercial vehicle such as an Uber or Lyft car or an ordinary cab. Generally, these companies have sufficient insurance cover as long as the passenger is a paying customer. Uber provides up to 1 million dollars for these sorts of injuries as long as the Uber driver was at fault.
Scenario 2: The driver of another vehicle was at fault
If the driver of the car that the passenger was in was also injured, this doesn’t prevent the passenger from claiming compensation as well separately. The claim should not be complicated by allegations of shared fault as this would typically only apply to the driver.
Scenario 3: More than one driver was at fault
Mississippi has a pure comparative negligence rule that apportions compensation amounts according to a ruling about how much each person involved in an accident was at fault. For an injured passenger, this may mean, for example, claiming compensation from their own driver and another driver in proportion to the amount of fault determined for each.
Scenario 4 The passenger is partly to blame for the accident
This is less common, but not impossible. The passenger may be accused of distracting the driver or attempting to take the wheel during an argument, just as an example. If this is the conclusion, then the comparative negligence rule mentioned above would determine just how much the passenger could ultimately claim. The state’s rule on pure comparative negligence allows compensation even if the amount of fault is determined to be more than 50%. For example, say a passenger is injured in a car crash and blames the driver. The passenger claims $10,000 in damages, but in the course of the negotiations, it is determined that the passenger was 60% to blame for the accident and subsequent injury. The passenger’s claim is upheld, but reduced by 60% (as determined by the degree of fault), so only obtains $4,000 as a final payment.
You need a car accident attorney if you have been injured as a passenger
As you can see from the examples of possible scenarios above, it is not an easy task obtaining full and fair compensation as an injured passenger, even if you are sure that someone else’s negligence was to blame. You are advised to engage an experienced car accident attorney to help you with your claim. In Jackson, contact the Diaz Law Firm for confident and dedicated attention to your claim. You can contact the Diaz Law Firm office for an appointment at 601-607-3456.