Experiencing injuries in a car crash is a traumatic event, whether you are driving or riding in a vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a person passes away in a drunk driving crash every 50 minutes in this country. Intoxicated driving represents 33% of all deadly crashes and results in thousands of people facing serious injuries each year.
If you incur injuries in a drunk driving crash while riding as a passenger in the intoxicated driver’s car, you may be wondering if an injured passenger of a drunk driver can sue, and the answer is yes, you can; you have a right to pursue compensation. You also have a right to pursue compensation if you lost a loved one who was riding as a passenger at the time of the accident.
How Can an Injured Passenger of a Drunk Driver Sue for Compensation?
If you are riding as a passenger in a vehicle, you have a right to obtain compensation for various costs including lost wages, medical bills, and emotional suffering caused by the drunk driver’s negligence. You might also be able to pursue a claim with the insurance carrier of the driver of the vehicle you were in at the time of a crash.
Insurance carriers who are involved in crashes of this kind often argue that the other driver was either completely or partially responsible. As a result, each insurance carrier often files claims that the other driver has a responsibility to provide compensation.
Even if the operator of a vehicle in which you were riding was intoxicated, the driver might not bear complete responsibility for the resulting accident. Your claim will not be resolved until the involved insurance carriers come to an agreement about liability as well as the degree of fault held by each driver.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate various claims with multiple insurance carriers.
What Factors End Up Influencing How Much Compensation You Receive
No two drunk driving crashes are the same. Various factors can end up influencing how much compensation you receive. These factors might include what led to the accident and each entity’s role in the crash.
New York is considered a tort state. This means that New York utilizes a tort-based system for deciding liability in car crashes. Following the terms of this fault-based system, intoxicated motorists can be held responsible for costs faced by others due to drunk driving accidents.
The details surrounding drunk driving crashes are vital in assessing the degree of fault held by each party. Comparative fault is the degree of fault or negligence of each person involved in the accident.
Passengers are not often held responsible for a car crash, even if they were intoxicated at the time of a crash. Despite this, the other side might argue that you are partially responsible for any injuries or other types of damages you face. Insurance carriers might consider that you got into a vehicle with someone you knew was intoxicated and more likely to get in an accident. The insurance carrier might also determine the feasibility of you taking other types of transportation.
If you were not wearing a seatbelt or if you were acting in a way that distracted the driver to the extent that it ended up causing a crash, the other side will often emphasize these elements to show your contribution to the accident.
Passenger Rights for Compensation After Drunk Driving Crashes
A right exists for passengers following drunk driving crashes to receive compensation for medical bills, wages lost due to the accident, and other hardships caused by an accident. Passengers have various available options when pursuing claims for damage caused by an accident. If the other motorist was intoxicated and was the only motorist who operated a vehicle negligently, the passenger might pursue a claim with that driver’s insurance carrier.
When the operator of a passenger vehicle caused the crash, the injured parties should pursue a claim with the driver’s insurance carriers. Sometimes, both drivers bear responsibility for an accident and passengers in either vehicle involved in the crash must file and then negotiate settlements with both insurance carriers.
Passengers can also file claims against the driver of the motor vehicle in which the passenger was traveling through personal injury protection coverage that pays the passenger’s medical costs as well as wages lost due to the accident. If the driver acquired either underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, passengers can file claims under the coverage if insufficient insurance or no insurance exists to pay for losses.
In each of these nuanced situations, a skilled accident lawyer can help you navigate the situation to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Complications Faced by Passengers When Reaching a Settlement
Passengers might not need to navigate arguments about fault unless they are in the drunk driver’s vehicle. The settlement of passenger claims, however, often takes longer due to other issues. Some challenges that passengers face in obtaining compensation include:
- If a passenger is in a drunk driver’s vehicle, the insurance carrier might argue that they were partially responsible for causing their own injuries by driving with an individual who was intoxicated. A skilled lawyer often has strategies to minimize this defense.
- In some situations, insurance carriers for both drivers claim that the other driver was either partially or entirely at fault and bears the duty of compensating the passenger. One of the drivers being drunk does not mean that the driver was completely responsible for causing the accident. Until the insurance carriers agree on who is liable to compensate the passenger, a passenger’s claim cannot be resolved.
- When cases occur where there are multiple passengers or a passenger and injured driver who is not negligent, all of these entities could be pursuing claims for compensation with the negligent driver’s insurance carrier. No adequate liability coverage might exist to fully compensate each victim, which can make the terms of a settlement more complex.
Fortunately, an experienced personal injury attorney can fight for you to receive the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve.
Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you care about is involved in a car crash, countless complex issues can arise. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information and may not be applicable in your jurisdiction.