Typically, when we speak about personal injury liability for car accidents, we are talking about the ability of one driver to sue another driver for failing to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. A scenario we don’t reflect on as much is when a passenger of a vehicle is harmed in a motor vehicle accident. This happens all the time, though.

An important question, then, is: can a passenger sue a driver of the vehicle that causes an accident? What about situations where the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was travelling is at fault—can the passenger sue that driver? Ultimately, an injured passenger may pursue damages against any liable party, including the driver of the vehicle in which he or she was riding, but there are some things to consider about these cases. 

First, there is the issue of insurance coverage. Here in Rhode Island, the tort system is used to settle losses stemming from car accidents, and insurance coverage is aimed at compensating those for whose injuries the policyholder becomes liable. When an accident victim is unable to be adequately compensated under an at-fault driver’s insurance policy, he or she may sue for damages in personal injury litigation.

Depending on how much insurance coverage the at-fault driver has and the extent of the injuries, it may not be necessary to pursue personal injury litigation. In cases where injuries are more serious, though, it very well may be necessary.

We’ll continue with this discussion in our next post.