An extra layer of complexities can be added to your car accident case if you suffered injuries as a passenger in a vehicle driven by a family member or friend. Unfortunately, the victims of an auto crash can be the innocent passengers in the vehicle. If you were hurt in one of these wrecks, you may have more options for filing a claim since your own negligence would almost never be a factor in the crash. However, these remedies could come with unnecessary guilt and worry about how your claim could affect your relationship with your family member or friend.
Who Could Be Liable for Compensating You If You Are a Passenger in an Auto Accident?
If you are a passenger in a car crash, you want to pursue claims against all possible parties. The reasons for this is that you increase the likelihood of receiving the full compensation you are entitled to when you sue any potentially liable parties. Depending on the facts surrounding your accident, you could have claims against the following parties:
- Other driver. If another driver was negligent in hitting a vehicle you were riding in, you could have a claim for compensation with his insurance company.
- Your friend or family member. The friend or family member who was driving the vehicle could be responsible for paying you damages if his negligence caused the crash. If he was partially responsible for the collision, he could be partially liable for paying you.
- Manufacturer of vehicle or vehicle parts. When a defective vehicle or part contributed to your injuries, you would want to pursue a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or the defective part.
- Municipalities. A city or other governmental entity could face liability if a defect in the road or a defective design caused or contributed to your accident.
- Repair shop. A driver could lose control of his vehicle, fail to be able to stop, or engage in other unsafe driving practices due to a defective repair of his vehicle. If this caused your injuries, you would want to file a claim against the repair facility and mechanic that made the repair.
- Owner of the vehicle. In some situations, the owner of the vehicle is not the negligent driver. If he gave the driver permission to drive his car, he could face liability for compensating you.
- Employer of negligent driver. If a driver was driving a company car or driving for his job, his employer—and its insurance company—could be an avenue of compensation.
Why Not to Let Guilt Prevent You From Pursuing a Claim Against a Friend or Family Member
You may be worried that pursuing a claim for compensation from a family member or friend could hurt them financially or damage your relationship. You need to remember that you are filing the claim with their insurance company, not asking your loved one or friend to pay you. In addition, you will not be alone in pursuing a claim if other passengers in the vehicle were also injured.
While it is true that your friend’s or family member’s insurance rates may go up because of your claim, chances are that this would happen anyway when he files a claim for his own property damage or the other passengers file a claim. In addition, you could be cutting off possible sources of compensation if you do not pursue this possible claim. Here’s how this could hurt the total amount you receive:
- While you may not believe your friend or family member was at all negligent in causing your crash, the negligent driver’s insurance company could argue he was in an effort to deny or reduce your claim. If you do not pursue a claim against the driver of your vehicle too, you could only receive a portion of what you owed if he is ultimately found partially to blame.
- If the other driver’s insurance coverage is not sufficient to compensate you or he had no insurance, you may need to file a claim under your driver’s uninsured or underinsured insurance policy.
- You could miss the deadline to file a claim with your friend’s or family member’s insurance company if you wait to file a claim—and not have the right to compensation. Even if you initially believe you will receive all you are entitled to from the negligent driver’s insurance company, you could later discover this will not be the case and want to pursue other liable parties, including your driver.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you identify all the liable parties and negotiate your settlement so that you receive what you deserve. Having an attorney handle your case also enables you to avoid awkward conversations about compensation with your family member or friend. Review our Client Testimonials to see how we’ve helped other people like you and then start an online chat to schedule your free consultation.