Passenger Car Crash Claims – Could Multiple Drivers Be Liable?
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on April 19, 2022 in Car Accidents
When riding in someone else’s car you are entrusting your safety to the driver of that vehicle. If that driver is involved in a crash, you may wonder what your legal rights are for recovering the damages you sustained.
Do you seek compensation from the driver you rode with? If the other driver is at fault, can you file a claim against him or her? Can a passenger sue both drivers after a crash?
PKSD understands you have many questions after a crash, especially if you were a passenger. Our Milwaukee car accident attorneys are ready to help answer those questions and determine your legal options. We encourage you to contact our law offices to seek legal help as soon as possible.
Timing is critical when you need to seek compensation after a crash. Having a qualified attorney on your side could greatly benefit your claim. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs to get started or while we work on your case.
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What Are a Passenger’s Legal Rights After a Crash?
Passengers often wonder whether they have any legal rights for recovering their damages after a crash. The answer is yes. Even if you were the sole passenger in another driver’s car, you have legal rights.
Before you can file a claim, however, investigators must figure out which driver or drivers caused the crash and your damages.
As you can see, cases involving passengers and multiple vehicles are often complex. An experienced attorney not only understands your rights as a passenger, but also how to deal with insurance companies who may try to get out of paying for your damages.
Who is Liable for the Crash That Injured You as a Passenger?
In a two-vehicle crash, liability could fall on one or both drivers. When more than two vehicles are involved, the possibility of two or more drivers sharing fault increases.
Wisconsin follows a modified comparative negligence system, meaning multiple parties can be held liable for a crash. Each party involved in the crash will be assessed a degree of liability from zero fault to 100 percent liability.
Drivers who did nothing to cause a crash, will not have to pay for any of the damages. The at-fault drivers will split the costs of the damages according to their degree of assessed fault.
In a multi-vehicle crash where two drivers are liable, and one driver shares no fault for the crash:
- Driver one: Zero fault assessed. He or she is not responsible for any of the damages.
- Driver two: 30 percent at fault. This driver is liable but less liable than the other driver. He or she is responsible for 30 percent of the damages.
- Driver three: 70 percent at fault. This driver carries the most fault for the crash. He or she will be responsible for the largest percentage of the damages.
How Do Passengers Seek Compensation for Their Injuries?
As an injured passenger, you could attempt to seek compensation from the at-fault driver or drivers on your own. However, victims with legal representation often recover far more than those who file a claim without a lawyer. Attorneys understand the legal process and how to protect your interests, even in complex claims.
If you are working with an attorney, he or she will seek compensation through each at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
One Driver Fully At Fault for the Crash
Your attorney would seek to recover 100 percent of your damages from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
Multiple Drivers Share Fault
When there are two drivers or more, such as in a chain reaction collision, your attorney would seek compensation from all drivers involved. The total compensation awarded to you would be split by each driver’s insurer according to his or her percentage of liability.
Joint and Several Liability
If one of the at fault parties cannot pay or fully pay, things get even more confusing. The total amount awarded would be shared by all liable parties. The legal term for this is called joint and several liability. Under this law all liable parties in a lawsuit can be held liable for up to the full amount of damages awarded.
Sometimes the insurance company may try to shift some blame onto a passenger. Insurance companies are always looking for ways to limit what they have to pay on a claim. While passengers could contribute to the cause of a crash, that is a rare circumstance.
What Types of Compensation Can Passengers Seek in an Injury Claim?
Once investigators determine liability and the injured passenger reaches the maximum medical improvement point (MMI), his or her claim can move forward. At this stage, your attorney can begin the legal process of recovering your damages.
Eligible passengers may sue drivers to seek compensation for the following damages:
- All reasonable and necessary medical costs related to the car crash
- Pain and suffering damages, such as disfigurement, emotional distress, etc.
- Lost wages for time you missed from work during your recovery
- Loss of future earnings; diminished earning capacity
- Mobile assistance devices needed to aid your recovery (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.)
- Transportation, including emergency transportation, to medical appointments
- The cost of any prescription and over-the-counter drugs needed for pain management
Could Passengers Have a Hard Time Seeking Compensation for Their Injuries?
It depends. Few car crash claims are straightforward. While passengers can sue multiple drivers, several challenges could arise. This could make it harder for a passenger to recover the compensation they need.
He Said She Said
When liability is uncertain and both drivers try to shift all the blame to the other driver, it could take longer to determine liability.
Multiple Injured Passengers
When there are two or more passengers involved in a car crash, there may be insufficient insurance coverage available. If that happens, you could end up with too little compensation to cover all of your damages. Sometimes, an underinsured motorist policy may be available to help provide additional coverage. Regardless, this is a complicated claim that requires help from a knowledgeable attorney.
What Steps Can You Take If Injured as a Passenger in a Car Crash?
There are multiple steps you can take after being injured as a passenger in a car crash. We encourage you to get familiar with these steps, so you can protect your interests if the need arises.
- Contact 9-1-1 to get help to the crash scene more quickly
- Take pictures of the crash scene, including vehicle damage, road debris, your injuries and more.
- Get the names of the involved drivers, as well as their license and insurance details
- Seek medical attention for your injuries immediately after the crash
- Follow up and continue your medical care until your doctor releases you
- Avoid posting or commenting on social media while involved in an injury claim
- Call an attorney as soon as your injuries have been stabilized to avoid making mistakes that could hurt your claim
Injured Passengers Can Contact PKSD for a Free Case Review
If you were injured as a passenger and need to sue one or both drivers, PKSD is ready to help. We have been helping injured victims throughout Wisconsin for decades. We have an in-depth understanding of the laws and how they apply to car crash claims. Our firm also has a long and proven history of success. We have recovered millions on behalf of our clients and are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
Get started today. You can contact our firm anytime, night or day. Our intake staff are ready to take your call and schedule your free, no-obligation case review. If we represent you, there is nothing to pay up front. We only get paid when you do.
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