Any time you travel on Oklahoma’s roads, you take the risk of being injured in a car accident. That’s the case whether you’re behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.
When people get hurt in crashes that weren’t their fault, they can often sue the drivers of the vehicles that hit them. But what happens if someone is hurt in a crash and the at-fault driver wasn’t in another vehicle but was instead sitting next to them?
This is a common question that injured passengers ask after they are hurt in crashes, especially single-vehicle accidents, and we’ve got the answers you need if it happens to you.
You CAN Sue the Driver Unless You Did Something to Cause the Accident
Oklahoma is an at-fault state, which means that when people are found at fault for accidents and injuries, they can be held responsible for paying victims’ damages. If you were riding with a driver who was looking at their phone and then rear-ended the vehicle in front of them, for example, you can sue them for your damages, as their negligence caused the crash.
However, you may be unable to sue if it can be proven that you did something to contribute to or cause the crash. For example, if you were purposefully distracting the driver, interfered with their ability to drive (such as by grabbing the steering wheel), or even arguing with the driver, you may be found partially or fully responsible for the crash.
Even if you’re partially at fault for a crash, you may still be able to sue for the cost of your medical expenses if you’re less than half at fault for the accident. But if your level of responsibility equals 51% or more, you won’t be able to pursue a compensation claim against the driver, even if they were also at fault.
What If the At-Fault Driver Is a Friend or Family Member?
When you’re a passenger in a vehicle, there’s a good chance the person driving is a close friend or family member. Whether it’s a parent, sibling, spouse, or even son or daughter, you have to trust that they’re a safe and attentive driver. When any driver doesn’t take safe driving seriously and fails to uphold their responsibilities on the road, they can put themselves, other drivers, and their loved ones in danger.
If a family member causes a crash that injures you, you can file a compensation claim against them—even if you share insurance policies. It’s an uncomfortable situation and you may not even want to do it, but you may NEED to. Remember, it is often the only way to get the insurance company to pay, so you are forced to pay out of your pocket. However, you may run into difficulties if the at-fault driver is your spouse or child. Some insurance policies have exclusions that can limit how much compensation victims can receive if the at-fault party is a close family member.
It’s important to have an experienced legal team on your side from day one for these types of claims. They often require reading the fine print in insurance policies and even utilizing other options for compensation when exclusions apply, such as MedPay coverage.
What if the At-Fault Driver is a Coworker?
Another common example of single-vehicle crashes where passengers can sue are crashes caused by coworkers. Many professions involve crews traveling together to job sites, while other professions may involve only rare occasions where coworkers travel in the same vehicles. But no matter how often you ride with a coworker, you can sue them for your damages if their negligence causes a single-vehicle crash that injures you.
In addition to suing them directly, you also may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim if your injury occurred while traveling for work-related reasons. Discuss with a personal injury lawyer whether your best option is a lawsuit, workers’ compensation claim, or even both.
What if the At-Fault Driver is a Rideshare or Public Transportation Driver?
If you’re traveling on a bus or in a rideshare vehicle/taxi and are involved in a single-vehicle accident, you can sue for your damages. However, you likely won’t be able to sue the driver directly, especially if you were riding with them while they were “on-duty” and you were a paying customer.
Instead, you would sue their employer (for example, Uber or Yellow Cab) or even the government in the case of a bus operated by a city or municipality. These claims can be more complex than lawsuits filed directly against individuals, as there are often more layers of red tape and more resistance when trying to get fair compensation for victims. That’s why we recommend calling a lawyer to handle the claim for you.
Contact Us Today After a Single-Vehicle Crash That Wasn’t Your Fault
Single-vehicle accidents can be serious. They often involve vehicles leaving the roadway, rolling over, or crashing into stationary objects. A study by AAA found that 55% of traffic fatalities in the U.S. occur in single-vehicle crashes.
The expenses associated with these accidents can be significant, but many victims are hesitant to sue the drivers that caused them. That’s because they often know the drivers or may even feel partially responsible for the crashes. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma car accident lawyers work hard to help these victims get maximum compensation by collecting evidence and proving the drivers’ fault.
Contract us today for a free consultation. We want to help you get the money you’re owed.