Motor Vehicle Accident-Can Passengers Be Held Responsible for Their Injuries?
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Three college aged roommates went out, for a night on the town, to celebrate their neighbor’s 21st birthday. The roommates played “Rock, Paper, Scissor” to see who would be the designated driver for the night. Alex lost and promised to stick to soda while Julie and Kristy indulged in shots and other mixed drinks. At the end of the night, Alex admitted to having a few drinks, but because he promised to be the designated driver, he drove Julie and Kristy home. The women, who drank well over the legal limit, knew that Alex had been drinking, but decided he was less drunk than them. A couple blocks from their apartment, Alex sideswiped a section of parked cars and hit a car in the opposite lane. Fortunately, no one was killed in the accident, but Julie was sent to the emergency room with severe injuries to her back and legs. Months after the accident and after Julie was facing a mountain of surgery and rehabilitation bills, she wanted to seek compensation from the accident for her injuries. Because Julie knew that Alex had been drinking, the night of the accident, she needed to hire a passenger injury lawyer to see if she was eligible for compensation.
Passenger Injuries: Depends on the Crash and Passenger’s Knowledge or Involvement
When passengers are involved in an accident, the repercussions can be scary, frustrating, and painful. Filing a compensation claim may touch a “nerve” with the driver of the vehicle, especially if he/she is an acquaintance, close friend, or family member. However, if passengers were injured and had no involvement or knowledge of the driver’s “condition” during the time of the accident, the injured passenger may be eligible for compensation towards mental, physical, and financial pain related to the injuries. On the other hand, if a passenger was injured in a crash and knew that the driver was impaired or responsible for the crash, the passenger may not be able to receive full compensation. Such exceptions may include, but are not limited to:
- Drunk Driving: According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSTA), one in three people (including motorists, pedestrians, and passengers) will be involved in a drunk driving related accident in their lifetime. Drinking and driving continues to be a prevalent issue in American society, even if the statistics have shown that education and strict laws have curtailed the problem. If you are a passenger, involved in a crash due to a drunk driver operating the car you are riding in, you may not be able to receive full or even partial compensation for any injuries you sustained. In order to receive compensation, you will need to prove that you had no idea of your driver’s intoxication level. Otherwise, you may be facing the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Drive” reality.
- Drugged Driving: While drunk driving incidents have decreased, the number of drugged driving accidents continues to baffle and frustrate law enforcement officials who are sent out to the scene of an accident. Evidence of drugged driving is more difficult to gather and prove, leaving victims waiting a lengthy period of time to receive information regarding the “state” of the driver. Like drugged driving, if you are a passenger in a car operated by a drugged driver and receive injuries, you may not receive compensation. It’s hard to deny any involvement or knowledge, if you are traveling in a car with someone smoking a joint or doing cocaine. If your driver friend is participating in recreational or illicit drugs, get out of the car and call a cab. You may save your own life.
- Seat Belts: In “modern times” of advanced airbags and seatbelts, it’s shocking that drivers and passengers, alike, fail to wear a seatbelt when the vehicle is in motion. Seatbelts are an almost surefire way to save lives and prevent injuries if an accident occurs. More than 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 driver and passenger injuries prevented if seat belt use was at least 90% in every state. However, for some reason, thousands of passengers disregard the need for wearing a seatbelt and the risk of injury is in their hands. If you are involved, as a passenger, in an accident and you failed to wear a seat belt, consider yourself lucky to be alive. If you are seeking compensation for your injuries, you might be out of luck due to your unlawful behavior. It’s against the law to travel without a seatbelt. Comfortable or not, wear it as it may save your life.
If you were involved in a car accident, as a passenger, several factors depend on whether or not you receive partial or full compensation for your injuries. If you were a “law abiding” passenger unaware of your driver’s irresponsible behavior, you may win a sizeable compensation. If you are fully aware of your driver’s illegal driving behaviors, you may become an accessory to any laws broken during the accident. Be a mindful and safe passenger, don’t let your friends drive while drunk, drugged, or without a seatbelt. Your life is worthy, isn’t your friendship?