When passenger injuries are sustained in an accident or a passenger dies in a crash, the victim or his family may pursue a civil case for compensation. Passengers are in a different position than drivers because in virtually every case, someone else is at fault for the crash. In some circumstances, multiple other parties could be liable for passenger losses. When a person is driving and gets into an accident, on the other hand, there can sometimes be questions about whether the motorist was to blame for his own injuries.
Since passengers are helpless to control their fate and are depending upon others on the road to keep them safe, passengers should be able to obtain compensation from at least one other party after most passenger injuries or accident fatalities.
Every accident is different and a decision on who is liable for passenger injuries has to be made based on the specifics of a particular accident. However, four defendants who passengers could potentially hold accountable include:
- The driver of the car the passenger was in: If the driver is negligent and makes careless choices, the driver endangers his passengers. Those passengers can hold the driver accountable for the unsafe actions resulting in the crash.
- The driver of another motorist who hit the car the passenger was in: Other motorists also have to exercise reasonable care. If they fail to do so and a collision happens, the victims who suffer passenger injuries or fatalities can hold those other motorists liable for the losses traced back to the crash.
- The employer of the driver of a car involved in the accident: Sometimes, passengers are hurt while they are on a bus or in a commercial vehicle. If and when this happens, the injured passengers can potentially make a claim not just against the bus driver but also against the company employing the driver. This isn't the only situation where a company could be held liable for employee driving actions either. Any time someone on-the-job causes an accident, it is possible his employer could be made to compensate victims if the employee who caused the accident was doing work duties at the time.
- The manufacturer / dealer of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident: A recent case shows when and how victims can make claims against manufacturers. Star-Telegram reported a lawsuit has been filed against Kia and against a used car dealer when airbags failed to deploy in a Texas accident. The crash was described as survivable, but the passengers died after the airbags failed to function properly. If vehicle defects like this occur and cause or exacerbate harm, victims and families can pursue claims arising from the product defect.
It can be difficult to determine which defendant, or combination of defendants, should be sued in order to recover compensation for passenger injuries. An experienced auto accident attorney can help.