If you sustain an injury in an auto accident as a passenger in someone else's car, you might have a tough time finding information to assist you. Most of the information about car accident lawsuits is geared toward the driver of the car, not the passenger. But as a passenger, you do have a legal right to recoup your losses if you're injured in an accident. Check out some facts about your legal claim.
Multi-car Accidents May Require Multiple Claims
One-car accidents do happen, but in most cases a car accident involves two or more cars. Unless one specific car is clearly 100% responsible for your injuries, you may need to file multiple claims against multiple insurance companies – one for each car and driver.
That doesn't mean that you've hit the lottery. When your case goes to court, the jury will decide who is responsible for the accident and just how responsible they are. You may have a claim that's worth $50,000 in medical bills and lost wages, but you won't get that much from each insurance company. If you're in a three-car accident and the jury finds that two drivers are 50% responsible for the accident and the third has no responsibility, you'll receive $25,000 from each of the drivers found to be responsible, and nothing from the blameless driver.
Passenger Lawsuits Can Cause Conflicts Among Friends
If you were a passenger in a friend or family member's car, you should know that you'll probably end up having to file a claim against their insurance company, and if they were partially or completely responsible for the accident, their insurance company will be the one to pay you. This can put you in a sticky spot. You might feel like you're suing a friend, and they might feel that way too.
However, it's important for both of you to remember that the lawsuit is against the insurance company, not your friend or family member. Try not to make it personal, and let your driver know that it's not personal for you. It's simply the best way to get your medical bills paid.
In Unusual Cases, You May Have Some Liability
It's unusual for a passenger to be held liable for a car accident, but it does happen on occasion. For example, if you bought a friend enough drinks at the bar to render them legally impaired, then allowed that friend to drive you home, you might be held at least partially liable for the resulting accident.
Keep in mind that you can still file a claim for damages in a case where you may have some liability, but any award you receive will be reduced by the percentage of liability you hold. So, of a jury finds you 20% responsible for the accident, you would only receive $40,000 of a claim worth $50,000.
To get answers about your specific case, consider an initial consultation with a lawyer, such as John Tamming Law Office.