Can the Passenger in a Utah Car Accident Sue the Driver for Damages?
April and Barbara are carpooling to work on a rainy September day. Barbara has a lead foot, but they always get to work on time, so April rarely complains about her driving habits. Suddenly, a deer runs out in front of Barbara’s car and she is unable to stop in time, but in a knee-jerk reaction to avoid striking the deer, Barbara swerves the car violently, causing it to spin out of control and into a ditch on its side.
Both April and Barbara are seriously injured in the one-vehicle crash, and they have to miss over a month of work for their recovery. Now April is undergoing occupational therapy to regain use of her right leg, which was crushed in the collision. She considers Barbara a friend but is concerned about the growing cost of medical bills and lost wages attributed to the collision. Can a passenger sue the driver in a car accident?
What Comes After the Car Accident?
If you were in a multi-vehicle accident, and you believe the driver in the vehicle you were in is liable for the crash, you might feel conflicted. If you make a statement to the other insurance companies, your friend could be sued. On the other hand, not doing so would be omitting crucial facts about the cause of the accident and what you saw as a witness and a passenger. Because Utah is a comparative fault jurisdiction, it is possible that both drivers in a two-car collision could be held liable, but for different amounts.
However, it is crucial that as a passenger you report the accident and what you witnessed in detail to the authorities and that you seek emergency medical treatment if necessary. You should not have to pay out of pocket for medical bills attributed to the accident. You also should not let the driver in the vehicle try to pressure you into not seeking help or not being honest about what occurred just prior to the collision.
What if the Passenger is Blamed?
In a single-vehicle collision, it is not out of the question that a driver might try to blame the passenger for the crash to try to cushion the blow. Maybe the passenger screamed, “watch out for the deer” or suddenly shouted. However, it is highly unlikely a passenger would be held liable for a collision for warning the driver of a dangerous condition or obstruction in the road. A passenger would have to be intentionally negligent or reckless for a driver to try to blame them. For a passenger’s behavior to be a contributing factor to an accident or deemed reckless, they would have to cover up the driver’s eyes or field of vision or actually strike the driver. This is why it is so crucial for the passenger in an accident to report the accident to police and seriously consider retaining a personal injury attorney to protect their claim.
Contact Our Logan Car Accident Attorneys
Car collisions are traumatic for everyone involved. Passengers are powerless in an accident, regardless of which vehicle they may have been in. However, that does not change the likelihood they will suffer serious, debilitating injuries after a collision. While it might be awkward to sue a friend or relative after an accident, if you are still dealing with an injury, you deserve compensation for your losses. Our car accident attorneys are licensed in Wyoming and Utah, with offices conveniently located in Logan Utah. We specialize in plaintiffs’ personal injury and are available to give you a free legal defense strategy. Call today to schedule your free consultation.