Passengers Legal Rights in Car Accidents
Sacramento CA Accident Lawyer Explains Passengers Legal Rights in Car Accidents
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience with lingering physical and psychological effects. The shock may be even greater if you weren’t in the driver’s seat. Being a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in a collision can cause great physical injury and confusion about your rights. The below article aims to explain a passenger’s right to sue after a car collision in the state of California but any legal actions should be taken upon with the assistance of a Sacramento CA accident lawyer.
Passengers absolutely have the right to sue for compensation after a car wreck. Actually, passengers typically have an easier case than the driver or an individual with any other personal injury claim. This is because in almost all cases, the passengers have absolutely no liability and thus can’t be held responsible for any involvement in the wreck.
What Does a Passenger Have to Prove?
Since a passenger doesn’t have to prove their own innocence, what do they have to prove? The first is liability of the defendant. If there are two drivers involved, one or both will most likely be considered negligent and held liable for incurred costs. In the case of two drivers, it is just like any other car accident case but with two sets of information and defendants. The passenger should get car insurance and contact information for both drivers, and file claims with each defendant’s insurance company separately.
Even though it may seem obvious that one driver is more to blame than the other, the best course of action is to speak with a Sacramento CA accident lawyer and move forward with filing a claim against both drivers. It is impossible to definitively anticipate the response of insurance companies or the court. California is a comparative fault state. This means that both drivers can be considered liable for some part of the accident. How at fault one party is deemed to be affects what percentage of the compensation they are required to pay. For example, if a passenger is seeking $100,000 and one party is considered 80% at fault and the other 20%, one party pays $80,000 and the other pays the remaining $20,000.
If there was only one driver involved (such as the driver ran into a guardrail), it is most likely that the driver would be considered liable. Typically when a driver crashes into something, they are considered negligent.
There are some exceptions however:
- Unanticipated object: if an object falls off the back of a truck or a deer unexpectedly enters the road, there was nothing the driver could do.
- Mechanical failure: if something was wrong with the car that the driver could not control (e.g. not a worn brake), liability is with the manufacturer or designer, not the driver.
Essentially the accident must have been reasonably within the control of the driver(s) to prove fault. Regardless of the circumstance, if you were a passenger in a any type of auto accident, speak with a Sacramento CA accident lawyer for legal help.
The second proof are the damages incurred. The individual suing (in this case, the passenger), must prove the extent of injuries and the associated costs of medical treatment. Be sure to keep records of all costs, ranging from the cost of an ambulance ride to physical rehabilitation. Give all records and documents to a Sacramento CA accident lawyer.
Exceptions That Make a Passenger Liable
Though a passenger is almost never considered liable for an accident, there are certain cases in which this is not true. When a passenger agrees to get in the car of a driver that is inebriated, that individual can be considered partially liable. This is because that passenger is consenting to the associated risk of an intoxicated driver and thus taking some part in the liability. This can affect how much an individual is compensated. This doesn’t typically eliminate an individual’s right to compensation, but since the partial fault doctrine is used in California, the passenger could lose a percentage of the compensation.
When Should Action Take Place?
A passenger who is seeking compensation should file a claim with the insurance company of the driver(s) as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to seek representation or at least legal advice from a Sacramento CA accident lawyer as early into the process as possible. Having an attorney on your side can improve your chances of receiving the maximum compensation and can serve as a voice of authority as you move through the process.
After the passenger has completed all necessary medical treatment, the case can begin to be settled. Typically, the insurance company will try to negotiate with the injured party multiple times, dragging out the process and pressuring the individual to agree to an unacceptably low offer.
Speak with a Sacramento CA Accident Lawyer If You’ve Been Injured as a Passenger
Are you the passenger of a vehicle that was involved in a car collision? Seeking representation from a knowledgeable and dedicated Sacramento CA accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you need to cover medical bills after the accident. Call us at (916) 915-0446 for a free consultation.
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