Passenger Injuries And Lawsuits: 3 Factors That Influence These Cases

Posted on: 28 January 2016

People who are injured in an accident often have the right to sue the at-fault driver for damages. This is especially true in cases involving reckless driving. Speeding, disregarding traffic laws, and driving while under the influence are all examples of reckless driving. If you're a passenger in a car that is involved in an accident where the driver of the other car is at fault, you can sue the other driver. However, if you're riding in the car with the at-fault driver who just so happens to be related to you, things can get a bit trickier. Following are three factors that influence these types of cases. 

Family Immunity

In some states, such as Michigan, family members may have immunity under the law, which means that you can't sue them directly. So if you're riding with your spouse, your child, or a close family member, you won't be able to pursue them for damages in a court of law. However, that doesn't mean that you can't seek compensation at all; you just have to get your money from your family member's insurance company. Even if you don't press charges, your family member may be charged criminally if their actions were severely negligent. 

Insurance Claims

As mentioned, you can seek damages by suing your family member's insurance company. An insurance company cannot block you from filing a claim simply because you were riding in a car with a family member. When you sue the insurance company directly, you have a bit more control over how the suit will affect your loved one. If the insurance company will only pay out a certain amount in damages, you can sue only for the amount that the insurance will cover. This will greatly reduce the financial burden of your family member since the insurance company can turn around and sue them in order to recoup some of the money they paid out to you. 

Payout Limitations

There may be a limit to the amount of damages you receive if you're injured by a relative's reckless actions because you will be limited to the amount that the insurance company will payout. Your damages, including hospital bills and pain and suffering, may total more than the amount that you are ultimately awarded. 

It can be tricky to seek damages if you're injured as a passenger in the car of the at-fault driver. Since laws vary from state to state and may vary according to circumstances, it's vital that you consult a personal injury lawyer regarding your rights.