Can a Passenger File a Claim Against More Than One At-Fault Driver After an Accident?

Passenger in a vehicle checking his phoneIf you were injured in an accident as a passenger, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages. You may be able to file a claim against more than one driver if there are multiple parties at fault for the collision. For example, you may have a claim against the driver of the car you were in, and the drivers of other vehicles involved in the collision.

Below, we discuss the circumstances when a passenger may be able to file a claim with multiple drivers.

Call our Sacramento car accident lawyers today to discuss your claim if you were injured in a crash caused by another driver’s negligence. We offer a free consultation, and there are no upfront fees for our legal services.

When Can a Passenger File a Claim Against Multiple Drivers?

Generally, an injured passenger files a claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. This could be the driver of the vehicle he or she was riding in, or the driver of another vehicle involved in the crash.

Since most accidents are usually caused by one party’s negligence, the passenger would only pursue compensation from the one party.

However, there are times when more than one driver may be at fault for a collision. This could happen in a chain reaction collision involving more than two vehicles. It could also occur in cases where both drivers share fault.

If multiple drivers bear some fault for the passenger’s damages, the injured passenger may be able to file a claim against each driver responsible for his or her injuries.

Understanding Joint and Several Liability

Joint and several liability is a legal doctrine that means an injured party may pursue full compensation from all liable parties. As the injury victim, you have two legal options for pursuing compensation:

  1. You file a claim against only one party for all damages
  2. You file a claim against each party to pursue partial compensation from each that makes up the whole

In a joint and several liability case, a single party may also bear full responsibility for paying out compensation, even though he or she does not bear 100 percent fault for the accident.

Usually, if the driver paying out the compensation is only partially liable for damages, he or she may file a claim against the other liable parties to have his or her obligation to pay compensation reduced by the percentage of fault.

For example, the driver who bears 25 percent of fault can pursue the driver who bears 75 percent of fault to have the full compensation paid to the passenger who was injured in the crash. This way, the driver who bears less fault for the crash is not forced to pay out 100 percent of the compensation.

Some states follow a stricter joint and several liability doctrine, but California is one of the few that takes a hybrid approach to ensure the party who bears less fault is not stuck paying out full compensation.

What if One of the Drivers is Uninsured or Underinsured?

In cases when only one liable party does not have enough insurance to cover the costs of a passenger’s damages, the joint and several liability doctrine allows the passenger to pursue compensation from the one liable party that does have insurance.

In this, California differs from other states where the passenger may be forced to forego compensation for certain damages because one of the liable parties does not have insurance or assets to pay out the claim.

Therefore, if the driver of the vehicle you were a passenger in is partially at fault for the collision, but the other driver who is mostly at fault does not have insurance, then you can file a third-party claim with the driver of the vehicle you were riding in to pursue full compensation from him or her.

What Compensation Can I Recover in a Joint and Several Liability Claim?

It is important to note that California only allows accident victims to recover economic damages as part of a joint and several liability claim.

Economic damages encompass things such as:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages and income
  • Lost or diminished earning capacity
  • Property repair or replacement

You cannot recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Call an Experienced Attorney Today

Claims from vehicle passengers are often complicated enough since most people do not want to pursue compensation from a friend after a crash. It gets even more complicated when there are multiple parties who bear fault for an accident and you were a passenger.

Let our experienced attorneys handle the legal process for you. We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim, and there are no fees while we work on your case.

Call 916-777-7777 to learn more.