I’m Ed Smith, a Modesto auto accident attorney. If you are a passenger involved in an auto accident, you may have the right to bring a claim or personal injury lawsuit against the motorist who crashed into you, or the person driving the car you were in, or both. Anyone who by their inattentiveness or carelessness causes you to be hurt is responsible for your injuries and can be held responsible.
What if I was Injured While Riding as a Passenger in a Vehicle?
If the driver of the car you were in was at fault for causing the collision, you have a claim against that person and any insurance carrier who provides a policy of insurance for them. If the driver of the vehicle that collided into you was at fault for the accident, then your claim will be against that person and their insurance carrier. If both motorists were partly at fault, i.e., each was 50% at fault, then your claim should be filed against both drivers. Further, under California law whoever owns one or both of the vehicles may also be held responsible.
Determining Liability (Fault)
So you’ve been in an accident and suffered injuries while riding as a passenger in a car. How do you find out who is responsible? What are the appropriate parties to file your claim against? This is where accident attorneys can help as there will be some investigation necessary. Normally, you will contact an attorney who will begin investigating your case. Your attorney would typically request a copy of any traffic collision reports, interview people who may have witnessed the crash, take photographs of the accident scene as needed, send a special legal request to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for current owner and vehicle information (because the registered owner of one or both of the cars could be held accountable for your losses), find out whether one of the adverse drivers were acting within the scope and course of employment, and take other crucial steps to protect your rights and preserve evidence.
Registered Owner Liability
With respect to liability of the owner of the vehicle, under California law the registered owner is responsible for injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s use of their vehicle. Liability is typically limited to $15,000 per person under the provisions of the California Vehicle Code. But, if the registered owner of the car was independently negligent, i.e., they let an intoxicated person drive their car, then they can be held responsible.
Negligent Driver in the Course of Employment
Also, if one of the drivers was in the course of employment and their vehicle belonged to their employer, that employer may be held responsible. Under California law, if a person is driving a motor vehicle as an agent for the employer or during the course and scope of employment, then the employer can be held responsible for your injuries and other losses, including medical bills, financial damages and pain and suffering.
Understanding Who is Responsible for your Injuries
As we’ve outlined, if you were a passenger in a car that was involved in a traffic collision there are multiple parties that may potentially be held responsible for your damages and from whom you may recover financial compensation. There may be more than just one driver who is liable, and there may also be an employer or registered owner who you can file a claim against . It is crucial that you conduct a diligent investigation as early as you can in order to determine and identify all potentially responsible parties and take all necessary steps to protect your legal rights to bring forth a claim against them. If you have questions, contact a personal injury attorney.
Modesto Auto Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Modesto auto accident lawyer. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury as a result of a crash, please call me promptly at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice.
Visit my past verdicts and settlements page.
Photo Source of Injured Passenger – Wikimedia Commons public domain images