If you are a passenger in a car accident, you sue the at-fault party or at-fault parties. This will require review of the police report, which a personal injury attorney can assist you with. You may have be able to sue both the driver of your vehicle and the other driver, depending upon the facts of the car accident, as well as how much insurance each party has.
If you’re a passenger in a car accident, and if you suffer injuries, you most likely have a right to a personal injury passenger claim. Your personal injury lawyer will work to establish liability with an insurance carrier for either your driver or another driver. Once liability is established, your personal injury lawyer will negotiate the claim based upon your injuries, medical treatment and billing, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our firm routinely files personal injury passenger claims and we hope this article is helpful.
Am I Responsible As A Passenger?
Generally, unless they contributed in some way to the accident, passengers are not responsible for the accident. An exception would be where the passenger contributed to the accident in some manner. North Carolina has a rule of law known as Contributory Negligence. Under Contributory Negligence, if you were deemed to contribute to the accident by as little as 1%, a jury would be instructed to award you nothing for your personal injury passenger claim.
Below, are some examples of Contributory Negligence of passengers in a personal injury passenger claim:
- Voluntarily riding with a driver you know or should know is impaired. An example would be getting into a vehicle with a friend whom you had been drinking alcohol with at a bar.
- Awareness that your driver is violating the law or has a history of doing so. An example would be that you are aware your driver has been cited for reckless driving numerous times, and you choose to ride in their vehicle. However, you will not be made responsible to warn an otherwise reasonable driver who is driving above the speed limit.
- Continuing as a passenger in a vehicle with a reckless driver after being given a chance to exit the vehicle. An example would be a driver is driving recklessly and at an excessive speed. The driver stops for gas. At that time you have an opportunity to exit the vehicle. If you remain a passenger in the vehicle and the driver later injures you, Contributory Negligence may bar your recovery. Bell v. Maxwell, 246 NC 257, SE 2nd 33 (1957).
Which Driver Is Responsible For A Passenger’s Injuries?
Whichever driver is the at-fault driver will be held responsible for the injuries to a passenger in a car accident. Additionally, if you exhaust the at-fault driver’s insurance policy proceeds, you may recover under your own auto insurance policy. Your under-insured motorist coverage will serve as a potential source of additional funds in this scenario.
Personal Injury Passenger Claims In Multiple Car Accidents
If you are a passenger in a multiple car accident or a “pile up” accident, you may recover from multiple drivers. For example, suppose your vehicle rear-ends the vehicle in front of you. Then, the vehicle behind you rear-ends the vehicle in which you are traveling. Most likely, your injuries from the accident will be a result of both the first and the second collision. Your personal injury lawyer will negotiate with the insurance companies for both your driver and the driver who hit you. Your driver is responsible for a failure to maintain a safe stopping distance from the vehicle ahead. The driver behind you is responsible for the same, as in most rear-end auto accidents. Typically, the two insurance companies will agree upon a percentage of your injuries for which that each insurance company is responsible. Your personal injury lawyer will negotiate a settlement with each insurance company, or file suit in the alternative.
Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have a personal injury passenger claim, speak with a Charlotte personal injury lawyer today. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call. You will speak directly with a personal injury lawyer. Part of our job is helping you understand your rights. We know you have choices, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us. Want to see what our clients have to say? Click HERE.