Can an Injured Passenger Sue Both Drivers?Published: Apr 10, 2019 in Auto Accident, Personal Injury
It is not just drivers who are at risk in car accidents. Passengers can suffer injuries that are just as severe, if not more, when two cars collide. There are many factors that can contribute to an accident, which affect who is liable for injuries that occur. In some cases, an injured passenger can seek damages from both drivers involved.
Passengers are never at fault in an auto accident. The driver assumes responsibility for the vehicle, even if they become distracted or impeded by something that the passenger did. In this way, a personal injury claim for the passenger is less complicated than that of the driver, as the passenger does not have to establish their own innocence. When an accident occurs, passengers should collect insurance information from both drivers and file a third-party claim.
Determining Each Driver’s Liability
Drivers often share liability for an accident involving two or more vehicles, with some exceptions. For example, if a vehicle is rear-ended, the driver in the front vehicle is almost never held responsible. Unless one driver is completely absolved of responsibility, passengers can sue both drivers to recover compensation for their injuries. The amount covered by each driver’s insurance will depend on their responsibility for the accident; if a jury finds both drivers equally responsible, they will split coverage evenly.
It is in both drivers’ interests to accept as little liability as possible. This can lead to nasty disputes, with passengers caught in the middle. The passenger is entitled to have their entire claim covered, either by one driver’s insurance or by a portion from each, but it can be difficult to get insurance companies to agree on their responsibility. Naming both drivers in the same lawsuit can help ensure that the jury is seeing the complete picture and can assign the appropriate liability to each.
Limits to Passenger’s Compensation
There are certain situations where a passenger’s right to collect damages may be limited. For example, if the passenger knew that the driver was under the influence and chose to ride in the car anyway, insurance companies could argue that they knowingly accepted the risk of injury and lower the amount of compensation.
Passengers in no-fault car insurance states can only sue a negligent driver if their injuries meet a certain level of severity; below that, there is a prescribed order of who is required to pay damages, starting with the passenger’s own insurance. If there were multiple passengers in the car, the value of the passengers’ claims may exceed what the responsible driver’s insurance can pay out. Passengers will have to settle among themselves of who will receive what, or file suit to have the court decide.
St. Clair County Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Fight for the Rights of Injured Passengers
With so many competing interests, it can be difficult for passengers to receive the full compensation they are entitled. The experienced St. Clair County car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC are dedicated to getting you the maximum compensation available so you can focus on your recovery. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.