Most accounts of people suing other drivers after a car accident are drivers themselves. They are most likely to be the victims of someone else’s negligence and for that reason may instigate a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. But what about passengers who just happened to have been in the car that was hit? If they are injured, can they go ahead with a personal injury claim of their own or are they dependent on the driver claiming on their behalf?
It’s a legitimate question. There are different scenarios here and it is worth examining each one separately. The one scenario that is least likely of them all is that anyone involved in a car accident is going to sue the passenger, even if the passenger just happened to be in the same car as an at-fault driver. To give an example, say a driver collides with another vehicle while driving along a section of highway. When the question of fault comes up, the driver claims that he was distracted by the passenger in the same car as him. Because the passenger was a distraction, he claims that the passenger was at least partly at fault. Does he have a point? Can the passenger be sued?
In fact, it is highly unlikely that a passenger would ever be blamed for a car accident unless he or she actually physically attacked or wrestled with the driver. It is the driver’s responsibility to dictate how passengers behave in the vehicle he/she is driving. If a passenger is talking too much or being an annoyance or distraction, then the driver’s role is to tell them to stop.
Passenger in the same vehicle as the at-fault driver
If a passenger was in the same car as a driver whose negligent driving caused an accident and the passenger was injured, then that passenger has the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver. This might seem a sensitive and difficult issue if the passenger and driver are related or good friends, but when it comes down to a big medical bill, days or weeks off work without pay and other costs, it may be the best course of action to pursue legal costs against the driver. As long as the driver was properly insured, then the fact that he or she was a close acquaintance or relative should make the insurance claim a lot easier than trying to sue an unknown person.
Passenger in the car that was hit by another driver
This is just as likely as the last scenario. If you were in a car that was hit by another driver and you have suffered property damage or were injured, then you may have the same right to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver as the driver and anyone else in the same car as you. The same criteria apply to you as they do to anyone else who was in the vehicle that was hit. You must have proof that the other driver was at fault. You need to see a doctor or go to a hospital if you were injured. It will be important to obtain documentation showing that your injury has been assessed. Evidence of the cost of medical treatment must be made available with receipts, invoices etc. There are other ‘damages’ that can be claimed. The cost of replacing or repairing any damaged or destroyed property can be claimed. If you are off work because of your injuries and are likely to lose wages, then you should include this amount in your claim. You should also be able to claim a “pain and suffering”
Is Tennessee a no-fault state?
A no-fault state is one where it is compulsory for registered vehicle owners to take out personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in case they are injured. Unless the injury is serious and the damages are beyond what is covered in the PIP insurance policy, it is not possible for an injured driver to sue the at-fault driver. This is not the system in place in Tennessee, which is an at-fault state or tort state for car accidents. Anyone in a vehicle who was injured in a vehicle accident is free to sue the at-fault driver for damages as long as there is proof that the other driver was to blame. Even if you were injured in an accident in another state, the fact that it was a no-fault state doesn’t affect your right to sue if you were a passenger. It is not you who has PIP insurance. It is the driver of the car you were in.
Nashville Injury Attorney has over the years built a solid reputation for successful auto accident claims. Keith Williams and his team have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for their many clients. You can rely on Nashville Injury Attorney for their skill and experience in dealing with all types of car and truck accidents. Ring the office for an online or phone appointment at 615-965-6546.