When a Collision Occurs, Can a Passenger Sue the Driver?

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Can a Passenger Sue the Driver in an Accident?

can a passenger sue the driver

After a car accident, the driver is not the only person entitled to file a claim for their injuries. Passengers also have rights and can file a passenger injury claim–even if they don’t have their own car insurance coverage. But who can they file the claim against? And can a passenger sue the driver in an accident? Continue reading to find out. 

Common Injuries Suffered By Passengers in an Accident

Because many passengers are not as aware of when an impact will occur before a collision, they can be highly susceptible to injury. And the injuries they sustain can lead to costly medical treatments, lost income while recovering from their injuries, and other potential financial losses and damages. As such, they are entitled to file a passenger injury claim to recover compensation to help pay for such losses. 

Common injuries for passengers in a car collision include:

  • Shoulder pain, rotator cuff tears, and ligament injuries
  • Broken wrists and hand injuries from protecting themselves
  • Broken arms and injured elbows
  • Neck pain and neck injury, including herniated discs
  • Closed head injury, concussion, traumatic brain injury
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Low back pain and hip pain that goes into the legs

Can a Passenger Sue the Driver In an Accident to Recover Compensation for Their Injuries?

Yes. A car accident passenger claim or lawsuit can be filed against the negligent driver responsible for the accident. In fact, a passenger can file a claim for compensation and damages against various potentially liable parties after an accident in Michigan. This includes:

  • The driver of another vehicle involved in the accident
  • The driver of the vehicle the passenger was riding in
  • The owner of the vehicle 
  • The passenger’s car insurance (if they have no-fault car insurance coverage

If the at-fault driver was working at the time of the crash, then their employer can also be held responsible. This is because, under the law, the employer is responsible for the negligent acts of their employees when they are within the course and scope of their employment.

Besides the driver and owners of a vehicle, a passenger may also be able to sue a property owner or a city and municipality. But these cases are rare, and a Michigan passenger accident lawyer can help you see if this is a viable case or not. 

Can Passenger Injury Claims Be Filed Against a Spouse?

Believe it or not, the law allows a passenger to file a claim against a spouse or any family member for negligence. In fact, these cases are quite common. Cases against a spouse or another family member are treated just like a normal negligence car accident case.

However, many auto insurance companies have something called “step-down” provisions in their insurance policies. This means that the insurance company can drop the amount of money it has to pay for pain and suffering to the state minimum in Michigan, which is $50,000 (or $250,000 in some situations).

Can a Passenger Get No-Fault Benefits If They Don’t Have Their Own Car Insurance?

Yes. A passenger can claim no-fault benefits. Even if a passenger in a car does not have auto insurance, they are entitled to make a claim for Michigan no-fault benefits. This is because, under the law, so long as a person is not driving an uninsured car at the time of the crash, every person is entitled to no-fault PIP benefits. This includes passengers who don’t even have car insurance.

These benefits include things like:

  • The payment of medical expenses like hospital and doctors bills
  • Lost wages for up to 3 years
  • Reimbursement for prescriptions and co-pays
  • Transportation
  • Household replacement services for up to 3 years

Who Pays the No-Fault Claim if you are a Passenger Without Car Insurance?

If the passenger doesn’t have car insurance, then they must turn to the auto insurance of a resident relative. This means the car insurance of a person who lives with you who is also related. 

This typically includes parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Their insurance must pay the PIP claim even if their vehicle had nothing to do with the crash.

If no one in the passenger’s household has auto insurance, they can file a claim with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). The MACP is an organization administered by the insurance industry and the state of Michigan. Once an application is made with the MACP, it will assign an insurance company to pay no-fault benefits.

Proving Liability in a Car Accident As a Passenger

Establishing liability is critical if you want to pursue and get compensation for your injuries. This is true even if you are a passenger. A police report will help explain what happened, but police reports are inadmissible hearsay and are not allowed to be introduced as an exhibit during a trial. 

This is where a good Michigan passenger accident lawyer can help.

Through investigation and deposition testimony, the lawyer will help establish which vehicle caused the crash and why. Sometimes expert reports and testimonies are required. Then the insurance company for the negligent driver and owner will have to step in and pay for the injuries suffered by the passenger and anyone else involved.

Damages You May Be Able to Recover As a Passenger in an Accident

Some of the more common damages a passenger can obtain by filing a passenger injury claim in Michigan include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Compensation for anxiety, PTSD, depression
  • Emotional distress
  • Psychological trauma
  • Past medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket costs

What to Do If You’re a Passenger in an Accident

As an injured passenger, your number-one priority should be your health and wellbeing. If you are injured, you should call for emergency medical attention or have someone take you to the hospital if needed. If emergency care is unnecessary, you should still get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Medical documents that prove you were treated for an injury can help support your claim. 

You should also call the police after the accident to ensure an official police report is filed. However, you should never solely rely on the police to gather evidence. If you can, you should collect evidence yourself, such as photos and videos of the accident scene. Contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident can also help in case they are needed to give a testimony. 

Immediately following the accident, you should contact a passenger accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you determine who was at fault and who to file your passenger injury claim against. They can also protect your rights and ensure the insurance company pays you the full and fair settlement you deserve. 

The Lee Steinberg Law Firm: Michigan Passenger Accident Lawyers

At The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, our passenger accident lawyers have years of experience handling Michigan car accident passenger claims. We can help you navigate your claim, ensure the right party is held liable, and get you the full and fair settlement you deserve. 

Call our Michigan car accident lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). You’ll pay nothing until we settle your case.