passenger in a car accident

Dealing with a car accident can be challenging, especially when you’re a passenger who has been injured. In Los Angeles, a busy city with a high rate of vehicle accidents, it’s important to understand what your rights are in case you become a victim.


This guide provides essential information and potential legal actions if you find yourself injured as a passenger in a car accident in LA.



Liability for Injured Passengers
in a Motor Vehicle Accident

California is a state that adheres to at-fault insurance laws, which means the party proven to be responsible for an accident is obligated to compensate all injured victims.


For passengers, this can be a relief as it implies that you can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. This includes seeking compensation up to the limits provided for in the policy and covers both injuries and property damage.


Yet, motor vehicle accidents are rarely straightforward. Multiple drivers can make errors simultaneously, leading to complex scenarios where several parties share the fault.


In such cases, the doctrine of comparative negligence comes into play. According to the California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), when multiple drivers contribute to causing a collision, a passenger in a car accident may be eligible to receive compensation determined by the comparative degree of fault.

Gathering Evidence to Support Your Claim
in an Accident Case

Clear evidence is vital to establishing fault in a car crash. Relevant information about the accident case includes photo and video proof from the car you were riding, witness statements, and details in the police report. Other documents, such as medical records and bills, can also support your claim for damages. As a passenger in a vehicle that figured in an accident, you have the right to request these from both drivers involved.


In addition to physical evidence, gather any information about the circumstances leading up to the accident. This can include details about road conditions, weather, and any other. Document any injuries or symptoms you experience as a result.


All these are essential to assist both the courts and insurance companies in understanding the circumstances of car accident cases to determine responsibility and the settlement you may be entitled to.

What are My Rights as a Passenger in a Car Accident? Case Study

my rights as a passenger in a car accident

In a notable case, an Uber passenger became quadriplegic after his ride ended in a crash. The passenger, who was returning home from work, was injured when the Uber vehicle hit a parked car.


With the help of an Uber accident lawyer, he sued the company for $63 million, claiming that the rideshare firm failed to adequately screen and supervise its drivers, particularly highlighting the driver’s history of moving violations.


The lawsuit underscored the debate over ride-hailing companies’ responsibilities and the safety of passengers, spotlighting the need for accountability and protective measures for users of such services.

Passenger Rights in California Car Accidents

In the context of passenger injury after being involved in a car crash, California law enforces the right to seek compensation without the excessive burden of proving one’s case. As a passenger, you were not handling the vehicle, which typically places you free of fault unless specific exceptions apply.


Such exceptions that may place you at fault for an accident include interfering with the driver’s operation of the vehicle, such as grabbing the steering wheel or causing a distraction. However, most passengers are not in control of the car and may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.


Aligning with state laws on passenger rights, an injured party may recover damages for medical treatments, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Some of the laws that protect passengers in car accident claims include:

  • California Vehicle Code §17150: Imposes liability on vehicle owners for any injuries caused by the operation of their vehicles, including car collisions.
  • The Guest Statute (§1714): Prohibits drivers from suing anyone offering them a free ride except where gross negligence occurred.
  • Permissive use laws: These allow passengers to file an insurance claim against the driver’s policy, regardless of who was at fault for the automobile accident.

Got Hurt in a Car Accident as a Passenger: Who Can You Sue?

If you’ve been hurt in an accident as a passenger, determining who you can sue is critical for receiving compensation for your injuries. The potential defendants when you file a claim might include:

  • The driver of the vehicle you were in, especially if their negligence or recklessness led to the auto accident. If you were in a car with a drunk driver, the value of your claim may be higher. 
  • The driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident, if they are found to be at fault, through, for instance, distracted driving or violating traffic laws.
  • The owner of the vehicle, if different from the driver, under the principles of vehicle owner liability.
  • The employer of the driver, if the driver was operating the vehicle within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident.
  • Vehicle manufacturers, if a defective vehicle or part contributed to the accident.
  • Government entities, if the accident was due to poor road maintenance or design, though this can be challenging due to sovereign immunity laws.

Work with an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer who can navigate the maze of California personal injury law and ensure car accident victims identify all possible sources of compensation. Having an auto accident attorney by your side can help strengthen your claim as a passenger and increase your chances of getting the maximum settlement amount.

Injured as a Passenger in an Auto Accident?
File a Claim Now. Call RTM Law Vehicle Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation.

What are my rights as a passenger in a car accident? It’s understandable to feel unsure about your next steps, especially if you were badly injured.


The legal process in Los Angeles can seem complicated. But with the help of an experienced legal team, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected and you’ll receive the compensation you deserve.


The personal injury attorneys at RTM Law Firm specialize in automotive accident claims across California. Our expertise can help you navigate your claim, whether in dealing with insurance settlements or potential litigation.


The road to recovery and fair settlement does not have to be an obstacle course. If you have been injured as a passenger in an accident, know your rights, act promptly, and explore your legal options with our team.


Reach out to the Los Angeles car accident attorneys at RTM Law Firm to ensure your rights are protected and you get the medical care you need and money you deserve. Our injury lawyers won’t charge any fees until we win your case.


Call us at (323) 990-8853, or fill out our contact form.




    We Help Accident Victims File
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