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The Rights of a Passenger in an Auto Accident

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When we talk about car accident liability, we often talk about it in terms of one driver against the other. But what about the passengers in those cars? What are their rights in terms of recovery? Lots of car accidents have long-lasting effects on more than just the drivers of the cars involved and those other injured people have an interest in recovering as well.

A recent high-profile car accident reported by ESPN brings this issue to the forefront. The accident in question happened to be a one-car accident. The driver of the vehicle was Detroit Lions player Ndamukong Suh. On Saturday, he was traveling with three passengers when his vehicle hit a car in Portland, Oregon. Now those two of those passengers are claiming they were injured during the accident.

While it’s unclear what exactly will happen in Suh’s case and whether the passengers are filing any type of claim, it is a good illustration of the importance of a passenger’s right to recovery. Specifically, passengers can seek recovery not just against the driver of the other car (if there was one), but may in fact have a case against the driver of the car in which they were a passenger. That is, if you are a passenger in a car and the driver acts negligently behind the wheel, then filing a claim against that driver's insurance company—or even a lawsuit—is an option available to you.

As with any car accident, it is important for passengers to cooperate fully with the police investigation, providing the facts and information that you know about the accident and the driver’s actions leading up to the accident. This enables the police to complete an accurate accident report and make a proper determination of fault. Those reports will be a crucial part of any claim that you might make as a passenger.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, Eastern Shore Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service.

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  1. keitha barber says:
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    i was in a car wreck on 12/23/11.women pulled out in front of me looking the opposite way as she accelerated she ran into me damaging the front and side of my car..i filed claim and sent in my fr-10.now her insurance company is giving me the run around about my damamges to my car..i need to know my rights.