Who Is Liable for a Passenger’s Injuries?
When you get into a car as a passenger, you are putting your life in the hands of the driver, as well as in the hands of the other drivers on the road. Sadly, drivers are not always responsible. There are always a few out on the roadways who have been drinking, who want to text their friends, or who just cannot keep their eyes open.
If you have been involved in a serious accident as a passenger, you may be searching for who to hold liable for your injuries. Thankfully, the liable party may be easier to find than you realize.
Your Rights as a Passenger
Passengers have just as much risk on the road as drivers. The biggest difference is that a passenger has very little control over what happens in a car. Where the car goes, and whether or not the car ends up colliding with another vehicle, is up to the driver. But even if you are not the driver or owner of the car, you still have rights as an injured passenger. The most basic right you have is to compensation for your losses. In order to get that compensation, you will need to file a claim, and the first step to filing a claim is finding the at-fault party.
The Other Driver
Most of the time – if not all of the time – drivers cause crashes. That other driver may have been drunk, distracted, or fatigued. Whatever the case, he or she was negligent, and thus caused your injuries. This means that the other driver is the one you should hold liable, and the one that you should file your claim against.
Sometimes, the trust you give your friends or relatives is misplaced. Even if you are confident that the person driving you will act responsibly, he or she may still cause a serious accident. In such a case, it would be your own driver that you would have to hold liable. If you were in a rideshare service vehicle, like Uber or Lyft, there should be an extensive liability policy that you can take advantage of.
If you were being driven by a friend, you may be tempted to drop the claim altogether. That would be a mistake. Remember, if your friend has auto insurance, then he or she will not be paying for your damages out of pocket. Instead, the insurance company will cover the cost of your damages. Neglecting to file a claim because you don’t want to hurt or upset your friend means that you will be left with the financial burden of your friend’s negligence, which is anything but fair.
Car accidents are not always caused by negligent drivers. Sometimes crashes are the result of negligent third parties. That could be a mechanic who neglected to fix an obvious safety issue in a car, or the manufacturer of a car part that put out a defective product. Even the local government could be considered liable if it neglected to provide proper road maintenance, and that neglect led to your accident.
Can You Be Liable?
You may be wondering if you can be held liable as a passenger, especially if it was your driver that caused the accident in the first place. First and foremost, passengers are very rarely considered to be in any way at fault for accidents. Passengers do not have control over the car. That responsibility lies with the driver. So, if an accident does happen, that driver is the one that would be considered liable.
But let’s say you, however unlikely it is, are found to be partially at fault. Maybe you distracted the driver right before the accident. Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that multiple parties can share responsibility for an accident. If any one party is found to be more than 50% responsible, then that party is not allowed to file a claim or receive compensation. So long as you are less than 50% responsible for the accident, you can legally file a claim.
If the at-fault party is trying to put the blame for the accident on you, don’t believe them. As a passenger, you are well within your rights to get the compensation you deserve. However, filing a successful claim is not easy, and you will need help. If you want to speak with an experienced Grand Junction car accident attorney, call our firm, Peters & Nolan, LLC, at (970) 243-4357. We are ready to help you.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.