What Are my Rights as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

what are my rights as a passenger in a car accident?

Alabama law, Section 32-1-2 states that when you are a passenger in a car and are injured in an accident, you will not be compensated.

This may sound unbelievable. You rode with a friend to go to the movies and were broadsided at an intersection. You suffered life-altering injuries, which may be permanent. You have medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, lost wages, and experienced pain and suffering.

Still, you are considered a “guest” in the vehicle.

Alabama is one of the few states that relies on a 1935 law, established way before major roadways accommodated millions of cars. The law protects the driver over the passenger.

Guest Passenger Statute

The law was created to immunize the person just doing a favor for a friend and not holding them liable for any accident. It is seriously outdated and gives far too much latitude to reduce liability for drivers who are not exercising care on today’s crowded roadways.

While the law affords reasonable protection for the driver, an injured passenger may find they have few remedies to recover their losses, even when the at-fault driver is identified.
Exceptions

Thankfully, there are some exceptions to this antiquated law. If you paid the driver for the ride, such as an Uber, you could still file a personal injury claim to recover your losses. Your lawyer should check with coverage offered by the rideshare program. 

In another exception to the law, if the driver exhibited wanton and willful misconduct that led to you becoming injured, you may be compensated.

The definition of wanton and willful will be important. The conduct must be reckless in nature. For example, if the driver was intoxicated, speeding excessively, and/or driving recklessly which led to an accident that caused your injuries, this might be the basis for a claim.

This is the time when it is vitally important to speak with an Alabama Car Accident attorney such as Chip Nix. He will consult with you on the accident to explore avenues of recovery for your losses.   

At-Fault State

Alabama is an at-fault state regarding auto accidents meaning the driver who caused the accident, and his insurance company will be responsible for the losses experienced by the other driver. It will be up to the injured party to prove the other driver was to blame, however.

At-fault could conflict with a driver’s rights transporting a “guest.” As different aspects of personal injury law may apply here; you require an experienced Alabama auto accident attorney on your side.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you are injured in an auto

accident, you can:

  • File a claim with your own insurance company. They will try to collect from the other driver’s company
  • File a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy
  • File a civil personal injury lawsuit

With a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, the cost of rehabilitation, medication, the time off work, pain and suffering, as well as any long-term disability.

The at-fault driver’s insurance policy will have a clause that refers to passenger injuries, but it may be less than what the driver can obtain. Your attorney will review the coverages that may apply to your accident.

Attorney Chip Nix will determine the at-fault driver with the help of evidence, witness statements, photographs, a police report, and whatever evidence is available from the scene.

Expect the insurance company for the at-fault driver to blame you, the passenger, or “guest.” You should have known the driver was intoxicated or mad at the world and likely would drive recklessly, for example.

The law offices of Chip Nix invite you to a complimentary consultation to discuss the various laws that may apply to your accident. We want the best outcome for your case and, because the law is confusing if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, allow Mr. Nix to strategize how we can best seek you the compensation you deserve.

Call our Montgomery office at (334) 203-6669 to schedule a complimentary consultation on your auto accident. We look forward to serving you!

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