We usually think about two drivers getting into an accident and a driver recovering damages through an accident settlement. But, in many cases, there are passengers in the vehicle when an accident happens who may also suffer damages. If a passenger is injured, they may have expensive medical bills, lost wages, and other losses that they wish to be compensated for. The question is, can a passenger sue the driver in an accident?
If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident, whether you were in the vehicle of the at-fault driver or not, you could benefit from a free consultation with a local car accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights.
Can a Passenger Sue the Driver in an Accident?
The short answer is yes, depending on the circumstances, a passenger can sue the driver of an accident in Washington State.
Here is how that may look:
In Washington, which operates under a fault-based system for accident and insurance laws, the injured party has the option to file an injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the coverage provided by the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient or your claim is denied, you have the legal right to initiate a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the driver responsible for the accident.
Additionally, Washington follows a “comparative negligence” rule, where different parties can share varying degrees of fault for the accident. It’s rare, but there are circumstances in which a passenger can be found at fault or partially at fault in an accident. For example, if you are found to be 10% at fault, you can seek compensation for 90% of your damages.
Three insurance options:
If the other driver caused the accident, you can file a claim with their insurance company. However, bear in mind that Washington State requires drivers to have a minimum of $25,000 in injury insurance per person (or up to $50,000 total if multiple people are injured). If multiple occupants in the vehicle you were in were injured, this coverage might not be enough to cover all damages.
If your driver is at fault, or if both drivers share blame, you may need to file a liability claim against your own driver, either instead of or in addition to the other driver. Furthermore, if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance to cover your costs, your own driver’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) insurance can step in to cover the remaining expenses. If your driver has personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay coverage, these policies can help pay for medical bills regardless of fault.
Even though you weren’t driving, if you have your own auto insurance policy that includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or MedPay benefits, these coverages might apply to your situation. It’s advisable to consider purchasing UI/UIM and PIP/MedPay coverage, even though it’s not mandatory in Washington.
If you are a passenger involved in an accident and are considering legal action, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney who is familiar with Washington State injury laws. They can provide advice tailored to your specific situation, help you understand your rights and options, and guide you through the process of filing a claim.
Passenger Dead in Everson Crash
As reported by kgmi.com, a passenger is dead and a man is in custody following a crash in Everson. The driver and passenger were in a vehicle heading south on State Route 9 Saturday night, October 7th, 2023 when the car left the roadway near Hopewell Road. The car hit a pole, killing the passenger, and the driver was transported to Peacehealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham.
Troopers say that the 21-year-old driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. He was booked into the Whatcom County Jail on a vehicular homicide charge after being treated at the hospital.
Seek the help of a car accident lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!