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Can You Sue the Driver if You Were Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

A car accident claim is confusing enough as a driver. If you suffered injuries while riding as a passenger in an auto accident, the question of liability may be even more difficult to answer. You know you were not responsible for causing the accident, but you may still have to work to prove your right to compensation. Most passengers will file third-party liability claims against one or more parties in pursuit of compensation for their car accident damages in San Bernardino.

What Is a Third-Party Claim?

As a passenger in a car accident, someone else will pay for your damages. The only scenario in which your auto insurance company might pay is if neither driver had adequate insurance, or if your insurance also covered the person who was driving. Otherwise, the at-fault party’s insurance company will be responsible for paying your medical bills, property damages, and other expenses post-accident. As the victim of a car crash, it is up to you to file an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurer.

A third-party car accident claim is one against someone else’s auto insurer, not yours. A claim with your own company is a first-party claim. A third-party claim goes to someone else’s car insurance company, such as the person who was driving the vehicle you were in, or the driver of the other vehicle. A third-party claim could result in compensation for your damages as an innocent, injured passenger. You may, however, have to prove that driver’s liability for the wreck.

How to Prove Driver Liability

An insurance company will need proof of driver fault before accepting a claim. It will be up to you, or your attorney, to prove the defendant’s liability for the accident or your injuries. This may take gathering evidence and building a case against the driver or another party. Your lawyer will have the burden to prove four main elements.

  1. The defendant owed you a duty. All drivers owe a duty of care to drive responsibly. This duty of care involves obeying traffic laws, not driving drunk, and staying in control of the vehicle at all times.
  2. The defendant breached a duty of care. Your lawyer must show that the defendant breached his or her duties to you by failing to fulfill the standard of care. A breach of duty could be any action or omission a reasonable driver would not have made.
  3. The defendant’s actions caused the car accident. The defendant’s negligence or recklessness must be the proximate cause of the accident that caused your injuries.
  4. You suffered damages. As a vehicle passenger, you must have suffered damages such as personal injuries or medical bills to have grounds for a case. Your lawyer can prove your damages with evidence such as medical records.

You will only have a successful case against the driver as an injured passenger if you have these four main elements of a claim. The insurance company has a right to request evidence and inspect medical records. Your lawyer can help you prove your case and negotiate a fair settlement amount during your third-party insurance claim.

When to Contact an Attorney

Navigating California’s car accident claim laws as an injured passenger takes help from a legal professional. Hiring an attorney can make the entire process much easier on you and your family while you recover from your injuries. An attorney can determine the at-fault party, file your insurance claim, and fight to obtain fair compensation for your damages. Most personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations so you can discuss your case without any financial obligation. You have rights as an injured vehicle passenger. Learn them with help from an attorney.