Passenger Suing Driver of Vehicle After Accident
There’s a lot of literature out there about what to do if you’re in a car crash caused by a negligent driver. Most of that deals with you as a driver bringing claims against another, at-fault driver. What happens if you were a passenger in the vehicle? Are your rights the same with regard to other drivers? What if the driver of your vehicle was to blame? Read on to learn about suing the driver of a vehicle after an accident, and call an experienced Palmdale car accident lawyer at the Kistler Law Firm for help after a California car crash.
Suing the Driver Can Be Uncomfortable
Before we even discuss the merits of suing the driver, we should address the social concern. Unless you were injured in an Uber or a taxi, there’s a good chance that you know the driver. They might be a friend or even a family member. Even though it seems awkward, it’s still important to follow appropriate legal procedures to pursue your claims.
Remember: The driver (presumably) has insurance, and it’s the insurance company that will be paying your claim. The driver will likely not be paying out of pocket. They may try to assuage your concerns by offering some small amount, or they may beg you to not “get the cops involved.” For your sake and theirs, it’s important to file the claim properly and seek coverage from the insurance companies. You don’t know how serious your injuries may be right after the accident, and if you find yourself months down the line owing thousands or tens of thousands in medical bills, you’ll wish you hadn’t agreed to do your friend a favor and take a $1,000 check instead of filing a proper insurance claim.
Suing the Driver as a Passenger in California
Moving on to brass tacks: In California, you can absolutely bring claims against the driver if you were injured as a passenger in a car accident. As with any other traffic accident claim, you’ll need to identify the party who was actually responsible for the accident and bring your claims against that party.
If the accident involved another vehicle and that other driver caused the accident, you can bring claims against that driver just as you would have if you had been a pedestrian or another driver in the crash. Gather their insurance information, obtain the police report, and go through all of the other appropriate steps to take after a car crash. If that driver and/or the insurance company contest faults, you’ll need to be able to prove that that driver was negligent and that their negligence contributed to the crash. Traffic camera footage, witness testimony, the police report, photos of the vehicles and the surrounding area, and other evidence will be important in proving your claims.
If it turns out that the driver of your vehicle was to blame, whether or not another vehicle was involved, you can file claims against your driver. It’s unlikely that you shared any fault for the accident unless you did something reckless like grab the wheel or the driver’s hands; it’s almost certainly entirely the fault of the driver. As with any other case, you’ll still need to prove that that driver was negligent. If the crash was caused by something entirely outside of their control–such as an earthquake or other “act of God”–you might not be able to sue them. Barring such an unusual circumstance, however, you can file claims with their insurance company and pursue your case in court should the need arise.
If you were riding in an Uber or Lyft, a taxi, a bus, a limo, or otherwise riding with a professional driver, you might have additional defendants to pursue. The driver’s employer is responsible for their employee’s actions taken during the course of employment and any harm that results. It’s likely the company maintains specific insurance policies designed to compensate passengers who are hurt during a ride. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, for example, must maintain at least $1 million in coverage for injured passengers. Make sure to discuss your case with a savvy California auto accident lawyer to keep all of your options open, hold the proper parties liable, and maximize your recovery.
Working with a dedicated car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. At the Kistler Law Firm, our Palmdale car accident attorneys will work with you to assess your case, help you collect evidence, and pursue appropriate legal action on your behalf. Reach out to our Antelope Valley, California, personal injury legal team today to schedule a free consultation about your case.