What Are my Rights as a Passenger in an Auto Accident?
Whenever you get in someone else’s car as a passenger, do you think about how they drive? What if you find out they are a terrible driver, speeding, running through stop signs, and tailgating? You are held captive unless you tell them to stop the car and you get out.
Then they get into an accident. Now your question may turn to, what are your rights as the passenger in this situation?
Alabama’s Guest Passenger statute may apply in this case. It states if you are a passenger and the driver gets into an accident, and it was entirely his fault, you have no grounds to sue the driver, that is, unless he intended to harm you.
To prove intention, the driver would have to state, “I intend to kill you with this car today,” or something like that.
So, if the driver speeds and hits a school bus, you can’t sue. If he plows into the car in front of him because he was busy on his cellphone, you cannot sue. If he is speeding at twice the speed limit and veers out of control, you can’t sue him. Only if he shows his intention to harm you.
However, the driver can be sued if he makes a driving error that injures the items he is transported, whether that is big screen tv’s or cows.
Alabama Guest Statute
Under the Guest Statute, if the driver showed willful or wanton conduct that was likely to result in your harm, a personal injury attorney may be helpful in having that law waived in this case. Alabama Code Section 32-1-2 was passed in 1935 and it can serve to leave passengers with little recourse for recouping losses following an auto accident.
It does allow for a lawsuit if the injured was a passenger in vehicles such as an Uber or cab who is paying for the ride. The original intent of the law was to shield drivers who may be helping others by giving them a ride at a time when not everyone owned a car. Clearly times have changed but this law has not.
Meanwhile, drivers may still be able to file personal injury claims against the at-fault driver, or more likely, his insurance carrier. This covers medical expenses, lost pages, pain and suffering, and in some cases, wrongful death.
Taking a closer look at the driver’s insurance policy There is usually a clause that refers to coverage for passengers. You should be able to file a claim against that coverage and receive some compensation, but typically it is a lower amount than for the driver.
If you are a family member related to the driver, you may be covered under his policy.
You may also be able to sue if you are an extended family member or a friend. A personal injury auto accident attorney is best to help you understand Alabama laws and your opportunity for compensation in this case.
The other option is to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance. This supposes he is the at-fault party. In order to establish that as fact, a personal injury attorney can help you collect evidence, witnesses, experts, photographs, the police report, and whatever else is available from the scene to establish the at-fault party.
Blame the Passenger
While you as the passenger cannot be blamed for the accident, insurance companies are always looking for ways to avoid paying a claim.
For example, if you got into a vehicle knowing the driver was intoxicated, you may be held responsible for that decision.
This circumstance may allow the injured passenger to recover damages under the driver’s Uninsured Motorist coverage. These are questions and special circumstances that an Alabama personal injury auto accident attorney should address.
Your Alabama Auto Accident Attorney
J. Allan Brown has been representing individuals injured in personal injury from his Mobile office for decades. When you are injured and need help understanding your options, J. Allan Brown has the compassion and expertise to show you the best option to recover compensation needed to make you whole.
Unfortunately, auto accidents occur every minute. In Alabama you have a one-in-three chance of being injured in an auto accident. You don’t have to go it alone. Call J. Allan at his office to receive a complimentary consultation to understand your options under Alabama law. Reach out at (251) 220-3199 to start the conversation.