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Can a passenger sue both drivers?

About 4.4 million Americans were injured in car accidents during 2019, according to the National Safety Council. It can be a frightening, traumatizing experience to be involved in an auto accident. The mental, physical, and financial costs for many people can be overwhelming. You may have lost wages from your job and have significant medical expenses.

If you were a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident with another vehicle, you want to know how you will be compensated for your loss. Key points to help you are discussed below.

Where the Accident Happened

The laws of the state where the accident occurred can limit your ability to sue. Twelve states and Puerto Rico are considered “no-fault” states. If your accident occurred in one of these states, your right to sue can be limited based upon the severity of your injuries. If your diagnosis or the amount of your medical bills does not meet the threshold, you may not be able to sue at all.

In comparative negligence states you must prove that another party was more than 50% at fault in the collision. As a passenger, you most likely would not have any fault in a crash. Your settlement amount will be affected by this.

The rest of the states are considered to be “tort liability” states, meaning there is no legal restriction on your right to sue. If the accident occurred in one of these states, you have the option to sue any of the parties involved in the accident regardless of your injuries.

How the Accident Happened

The facts of the accident are very important in deciding whether legal action against one or both drivers is appropriate. If you were a passenger that was injured when your driver rear-ended another car stopped at a red light, you likely would not sue the second driver since they were not at fault.

You may want to sue them both if the accident was likely due to the acts of both drivers. For example, if one driver makes an illegal left turn and is then hit by a speeding vehicle, suing both drivers would be appropriate.

Insurance Coverage and Availability

You should understand the different types of insurance policies that are generally applicable to car accidents. The four main policy types are:

  • Driver one’s auto insurance
  • Driver twp’s auto insurance
  • Your auto insurance
  • Your health insurance

You would make a claim against one of these policies to recover compensation for your injuries. Claims against either or both drivers’ insurance policies are called third-party claims. When you make a third-party claim against the policy, the company will determine if their driver is at fault and may offer you a payout.

If You’re Offered a Settlement

Before you take any payout, you should consult with a professional; a personal injury lawyer can help you ensure that you get a fair settlement. You should also know that insurance policies will only pay out up to their limit. For example, if your medical expenses from the accident are $150,000 and the policy limit is $100,000, you may have to sue the driver for the difference.

According to George Sink, an attorney who has helped passengers in vehicle collisions to get six-figure settlements, no matter what settlement amount the insurers are offering, you should not sign anything without consulting with a lawyer about your case because once you do, you won’t be able to back out of the agreement. You can click here to learn more about how a personal injury lawyer can help you make the most of your settlement.

If you live with or are related to one of the drivers in the accident, you may be prevented from filing a third-party claim since you are already covered due to the household or family exclusion in all auto policies.

Another source of possible compensation is your own auto and health insurance policies. You should always notify your insurers after being involved in an accident; they can often assist you in filing third-party claims in addition to a car accident lawyer.

Being involved in an automobile accident can be an emotional and physical ordeal. If you were a passenger in the vehicle, you should look into your options, which vary based upon the state, the facts of the accident, and the insurance coverage available. Consider consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer for the best advice.

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