Passengers are frequently injury victims in motor vehicle accidents. And when the negligent actions of a driver are the cause, other drivers and passengers alike may recover compensation from the negligent driver’s auto insurance up to the policy’s liability limit. This includes passengers in the negligent driver’s car as well. If you’ve been in an accident contact Redmond personal injury attorney.
While a handful of states have legislation in place — called guest statutes — that prevent a negligent driver from being sued by injured passengers in his or her car except in cases of gross negligence, the State Legislature repealed Washington’s guest statute in 1974. This opens another avenue of recovery for those injured in auto accidents. And while many injured passengers may recoil at the prospect of suing a friend, it is important to remember a few things. First, so long as your friend has adequate liability insurance, it will be the insurance company that pays. Second, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages can add up to substantial amounts over time and can be a huge financial burden in the absence of just compensation.
In addition, an injured passenger in Washington State may have access to benefits from one or more underinsured motorist (UIM) policies should the at-fault driver’s insurance be insufficient to cover his or her injuries. While every policy is different, a not-at-fault driver’s insurance policy often extends UIM benefits to the passengers in his or her vehicle. Moreover, an injured passenger may have access to UIM benefits under his or her own auto insurance policy, even if his or her car was in no way involved in the crash.