Can You Sue the Driver if You Were Injured as a Passenger in a Washington Car Accident?

Passengers in a vehicle at the time of a car accident could suffer significant injuries. These crash victims may face expensive medical bills, lost wages and earnings, or permanent disability due to the negligence of their drivers. Fortunately, in Washington, state law permits injured passengers to file claims against drivers to pursue financial compensation for their losses.

An at-fault driver will be responsible for paying for the medical bills, lost wages and vehicle repairs of all injured victims, including the driver’s passengers. Anyone who was riding in the driver’s car at the time of the accident will be eligible for compensation from the driver’s car insurance policy.

All motor vehicle drivers in Washington are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance for bodily injuries and property damages. The minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage is $25,000.00 per person and up to $50,000.00 per collision.

Proving Negligence as an Injured Passenger

A passenger who makes a claim against the driver must prove that they caused or contributed to the car accident, such as through an act of negligence (the failure to act with ordinary care). If you wish to make a claim as an injured passenger, you or your car accident attorney in Vancouver will need to prove that the driver of the vehicle was at fault. Evidence of driver negligence may include:

  • A police report
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Photographs of the crash scene
  • Traffic camera footage
  • Cell phone records
  • Accident reconstruction
  • A confession from the driver
  • Testimony from those involved in the crash

The four elements of driver negligence that must be established are a duty of care, breach of the duty of care, causation and damages. All drivers in Vancouver have a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent car accidents. A breach of this duty can refer to any act or omission that a prudent driver would not have committed under the same or similar circumstances; for example, driving while drunk, texting and driving, speeding, or running a red light. If the driver is guilty of a negligent or reckless act that caused the car accident, he or she are likely responsible for paying for a victim’s injuries.

Filing a Third-Party Claim as a Passenger

The person who was driving the vehicle at the time of your car accident may not be your only option for holding someone liable as an injured passenger. Third-party liability may also be a possibility, depending on the scenario. If you were a paying passenger in a taxi, Uber or Lyft that crashed, for example, the company will have insurance that may cover your medical bills and losses.

If a vehicle defect contributed to a crash, the manufacturer of the item could potentially be found liable for passenger injuries. A car accident in Washington caused by a road defect, on the other hand, could lead to government liability for failing to maintain a safe roadway. Discuss all of your potential legal options with an attorney after being injured in a car accident as a passenger. Contact NW Injury Law Center to schedule a free case consultation.

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