Just because you are a passenger in a car or other vehicle does not mean that you are immune from injury in a Los Angeles car crash. In fact, depending on the angle of impact, a passenger can sometimes suffer more severe injuries than the driver. Just like drivers, however, passengers are entitled to seek compensation for their injuries from any at-fault party who caused or contributed to the crash.
Identifying the Responsible Parties in a Car Crash
One of the most important tasks with which an attorney can assist an injured passenger is in identifying all of the individuals or entities responsible for causing or contributing to the crash. Of course, the driver who struck the car in which the passenger was riding may bear some responsibility, but so too may the driver of the car in which the passenger was riding. The passenger him- or herself may bear some responsibility as well if, for example, the passenger was distracting the driver just before the crash.
How Long Does an Injured Passenger Have to File a Lawsuit?
Like an injured driver, an injured passenger has two years from the date of the crash within which to file a car accident lawsuit seeking damages. Failure to do so will usually mean that the injured
passenger will not be able to recover any compensation for his or her injuries, no matter how severe. As a passenger, you do not have to wait until the driver of your car files a lawsuit: in fact, you can file a lawsuit for damages even if the driver of your car never files a lawsuit to seek damages as well.
If The Driver of My Car Files a Lawsuit and Wins, Does That Mean I’ll Win My Case, Too?
If the driver of your car files and wins a car accident lawsuit, this could set a strong precedent for your own case as well. If your lawsuit is against the same individual and alleges the same facts, you could very well win your car accident lawsuit as well. You should not wait until the driver’s lawsuit is resolved before filing your own suit, however. The driver’s suit may end up settling out of court (in which case the driver’s suit would be of no value to you for the sake of precedent), or the lawsuit may not resolve until long after your statute of limitations has run.
Is There Anything I Should Do if I’m the Passenger in a Crash?
Like an injured driver, a passenger injured in a crash should first summon medical assistance and make sure he or she is in a safe location. The passenger should be sure to collect the name, contact information, and insurance information for every driver involved in the crash, even the driver with whom he or she was riding. You should also collect the name and contact information for any eyewitnesses who are at the scene and indicate they observed the crash occur.
Can I Use the Same Attorney as the Driver I Was Riding With?
Sometimes two parties can use the same attorney – even be named as plaintiffs in the same lawsuit – if their legal interests are not opposed to one another. If your driver was even partially to blame for your injuries, however, you will not be able to use the same attorney as the driver as this would create a conflict of interest. Car accident lawyers are generally cognizant of the potential for a conflict of interest and should inform you if a conflict of interest prevents the attorney from representing you.