Being a passenger in a vehicle while someone else is driving can be a nerve-wracking experience. Just ask any parent who has tried to teach their teenager how to drive. Being a sidekick in a car is not always easy. Not only does a passenger relinquish all control of the vehicle, each passenger is on a journey outside their comfort zone. One person may not like the radio station. Another might be uncomfortable with the temperature setting. A different passenger may need to adjust the seat. And don’t forget about the driver who thinks they know “a quicker way to get there.” Yes, being a passenger has its challenges. Yet there is one thing that every occupant in a car has in common—no one wants to be in an accident.
What Rights Do Passengers Have After a Car Accident?
Most car accidents occur between two drivers. One driver usually does something wrong, like speeding or running a stop light, and the other driver just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In any car crash that results in fatality, injury, or property damage, the innocent driver has a right to sue the negligent driver to be compensated for any injuries or economic damages they suffer. But do passengers have the same rights as drivers?
Can an Injured Passenger Sue the Driver of Another Vehicle?
In many cases, two-vehicle accidents occur when either vehicle is carrying one or more passengers. When this happens and one of the passengers is injured, the passenger has the same right to receive financial compensation from the driver who was at fault as any other driver who was injured. This is because every driver on the road has a legal obligation to drive safely and not put other people at risk. This includes other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. If any driver breaches that obligation by driving carelessly, recklessly, or without obeying the traffic laws, then that driver may be financially responsible for any injuries or damages they cause to other people. This includes passengers in other cars.
Can an Injured Passenger Sue the Driver of the Same Vehicle?
When a passenger is involved in a car accident, it is equally likely that their own driver was negligent and caused the collision. This doesn’t matter from the passenger’s perspective. This is because it is not just drivers of other vehicles who owe a duty of safety to everyone on the road; it is every driver of every vehicle who owes that duty to every person on the road. This includes passengers riding in the same car.
What if a Passenger is Injured and Both Drivers are Partially at Fault?
When a passenger is injured in a two-vehicle accident, there is usually one driver who made a mistake and caused the accident. For a passenger to be compensated for their injuries, the passenger must prove which driver was at fault.
Sometimes, both drivers in a two-vehicle accident may be at fault. One driver may have been speeding through an intersection when the other driver was making an illegal left turn. In this case, you might say “the passenger is in the driver’s seat,” because now it doesn’t matter which driver was at fault. The passenger will be compensated by each negligent driver.
Passengers Are Not Just Along for the Ride
Just because a passenger gives up control of the vehicle doesn’t mean they give up the right to be safe on the road. Every passenger has a right to hold a negligent driver responsible for their actions. And every passenger injured in a collision has a right to be compensated for their injuries by any driver who was at fault.
If you were injured in an auto accident when you were a passenger in a vehicle, let the personal injury attorneys at Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad, LLP, protect your rights. Even if your own driver was at fault, you are entitled to be compensated for any damages you suffered as a result.
Don’t take a back seat to any driver. Call today.