Can A Passenger File A Personal Injury Claim Against The Driver Of the Same Car?

When most people think of a car crash or a personal injury claim, they tend to think of crashes involving two or more vehicles. 

For example, the driver of Vehicle 1 crashes into and causes personal injury to the driver and/or passengers of Vehicle 2. 

In that scenario, the injured parties of Vehicle 2 would have personal injury claims against the driver of Vehicle 1. Oftentimes, the injured parties of Vehicle 2 do not know the driver of Vehicle 1, so submitting an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit against the driver of Vehicle 1 isn’t awkward or personal.  In fact, most of the car accident claims that we see at Gold, Khourey & Turak involve these types of multi-vehicle accidents, which makes the decision to seek compensation less personal, given that the injured victims don’t know, aren’t friends with, and/or aren’t related to the drivers who caused the crash.

Does an Injured Passenger Even Have a Car Accident Claim?

But what happens when only one car is involved in a crash? 

By way of example, the driver of Vehicle 1 slides on ice and crashes into a tree.  You are a front seat passenger of Vehicle 1 and strike your head on the window when the car strikes the tree, thereby suffering a cut that needs stitches or worse yet, a concussion or traumatic brain injury.  Odds are, you know the driver of Vehicle 1 (otherwise, why would you be riding in the same car, unless you are in an Uber or other rideshare or taxi type vehicle).  And not only do you know the driver of Vehicle 1, but you are also probably friends or co-workers with or family of the driver of Vehicle 1.  Presumably, you know, like, respect, and/or are related to the driver of Vehicle 1, which can make the process of submitting a personal injury claim just that – more personal and, to be candid, awkward at times.

Are you sure, though, that you even have a personal injury claim against the driver of Vehicle 1? 

And if you did have a personal injury claim against the driver of Vehicle 1, would you even want to and/or should you even file a personal injury claim against that driver friend, co-worker, and/or relative of yours? 

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common amongst our clients at Gold, Khourey & Turak, and these are the exact questions and concerns we hear.  Rest assured that we take the time with each of our clients to answer these questions and discuss these difficult topics and concerns.  Not only that, but we also understand these concerns and work through them with you, in the way that you believe is best. 

Oftentimes, personal injury victims are nervous about contacting a lawyer at all in these situations because they don’t want to offend or upset their driver friend, co-worker, and/or family member who caused their injuries.

At the outset, yes, a passenger of a single car accident may have a personal injury claim against the driver that crashed and caused the passenger’s injury.  Notice that I said “may?”  That is because, as with most things, there are exclusions.  I won’t get into those exclusions in this article (see Part 2, the sequel to this article, coming soon to a theater, or blog post, near you soon…!).  Without talking about the exclusions, let’s talk generally about single car crashes resulting in injury.

To cut to the chase, YES, “most” people injured in single car crashes can file personal injury claims against the driver.  That is because anytime a driver is negligent and that negligence results in a crash and injuries or damages to a victim, that driver is responsible for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  Now, when I say that a driver is responsible to pay these damages, what it really means is that the driver’s auto insurance is responsible to pay these damages.  Because the auto insurance is responsible for these bills and damages, the personal injury claim isn’t as personal as it might seem at first blush. 

But What If the At-Fault Driver is My Friend or Someone I Know?

A personal injury victim of a single car crash is not, in most instances, seeking compensation directly from his or her driver friend, co-worker, or family member; rather, the victim is entering into what is essentially an arms-length business transaction with an insurance company.  In many instances, the driver will have little to zero involvement in the personal injury claim, as the insurance company will make decisions regarding when to pay and how much to pay.  To be clear, any compensation, in most instances, will come directly from the insurance company and not your driver friend, co-worker, or family member.  This should alleviate any worry or concerns that you may have about suing your friend, co-worker, or family member and avoid any awkward moments during your next outing together (where you drive this time, if you catch my drift).

Should an Injured Passenger File A Car Accident Claim?

Not only do you have the right to submit a personal injury claim as the victim of a single car crash, but you should submit a personal injury claim so that you can be compensated for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.  The claim goes directly to the insurance company and most, if not all, communications are with the insurance company only.   In other words, your driver friend, co-worker, and/or family member will have very little involvement in and/or knowledge of your personal injury claim and will not, in most instances, be affected by your claim.  In fact, these situations are exactly the reason they have insurance – to protect those who are injured by such drivers’ negligence. 

GKT is Here to Help You

Should you still have concerns about submitting an insurance claim against your driver friend, co-worker, and/or family member, call us, and we will be happy to meet with you, privately and confidentially so that your driver friend, co-worker, and/or family member does not even know.  We can guide you to the decision that you feel is best for your situation and discuss your options with you.  The only anxiety and worry truly comes from not knowing the answers nor taking the time to explore your options.  Contact one of our attorneys so that we can walk you through the options and alleviate any worry you may have in these situations.  GKT is here to help.  We can be reached 24 hours a day by phone or text at (304) 845-9750, or online at through our Live Chat or consultation form.  We offer free consultations on car accident claims and there is no fee until we obtain compensation for you.

Teena Miller

Teena Miller

Car Accident Attorney

Teena Miller is a partner and car accident lawyer at Gold, Khourey & Turak.  Her personal injury practice includes automobile and trucking accidents, DUI-related crashes, slip and falls, and wrongful death. Teena is particularly interested in serious accidents involving tractor trailers, and she has received training in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA). Teena graduated with her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. In law school, she was named Who’s Who Among American Law Students and received the Holderness Moot Court Gressman-Pollitt Award for Best Oral Argument.