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Can a passenger sue for a car accident?

February 11, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Today, I received a question from a woman who was terribly injured in a car accident. She was a passenger, and was hit by a car that was literally going the wrong way on I-94 three weeks ago.

It reminds me that I often get questions from people who have been in car accidents as passengers. I also get similar related questions from other parents who ask about their children riding as passengers in other peoples’ cars.

Here’s a good example of what happens in a lawsuit involving the passengers after a car accident.

Q. If “Driver A” causes a car accident and “Driver B” accepts the insurance settlement, can “Driver B’s” passengers still sue?

A. Yes, an injured passenger of a motor vehicle that was involved in a car accident or truck accident caused by another driver may sue the at-fault driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle.

And in Michigan, the passenger as an auto accident victim is also entitled to Michigan No Fault insurance benefits, which include medical expense reimbursement, lost wages, attendant care (in-home nursing care) and replacement services (help with child care and household chores).

The order of priorities under our No Fault law for an insurance company to provide PIP (personal injury protection no fault insurance benefits) would be as follows:

  1. Insurer of a resident relative.
  2. Insurer of a spouse.
  3. Insurer of the owner or registrant of the vehicle occupied at the time of the crash.
  4. Insurer of the driver of the vehicle occupied at the time of the crash.
  5. Michigan Assigned Claims Facility (ACF). The ACF ensures that auto accident victims receive No-Fault benefits by assigning the case to a participating No-Fault insurance company. This fund was created by the state for accidents involving uninsured drivers.

There will be additional important issues you will want to investigate, including:

  • Whether you as a passenger have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your own policy;
  • Whether the owner/driver of the car you were in has it, and whether that covers you as a passenger;
  • And how the tort settlement will be divided if there is more than one person injured.

As an attorney, I realize much of this may be confusing to most people who don’t read insurance contracts or practice No Fault insurance litigation for a living. Insurance issues involving passengers of car accidents can sometimes be complicated and somewhat confusing.

If you have questions, feel free to call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028 for free advice.

Related information:

Car insurance coverage issues: What are your rights?

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