Whether you had one too many to drink, you felt too sleepy to drive home, or because your friend or another person was simply the first to grab the keys to a car, you are riding as a passenger in a vehicle when suddenly you are involved in a serious car accident. It is unknown who is at fault, but you can already tell while you are waiting for emergency help at the scene that you have suffered significant injuries that will require a considerable amount of medical care and treatment. Do you have the ability to seek compensation for your injuries?
Injured Passengers Have the Same Rights to Seek Compensation as Injured Drivers
South Carolina law makes no distinction between passengers who are injured in a motor vehicle crash and drivers who are injured: both are subject to the same laws and both are able to recover the same types of damages (so long as these damages are proven, of course). Just as a driver can recover compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, for example, an injured passenger who suffers these losses can seek compensation for them as well. The difference for a passenger, however, is that while a driver will be limited to recovering in situations where the driver of the other vehicle was at fault for the collision, a passenger may recover even where the person who caused the action was the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was riding. Interestingly, passengers may have a right to recover under South Carolina law, even where the at-fault driver is a family member, such as a spouse or parent.
Similarly, just as an injured driver’s own negligence can result in a reduction in his or her compensation award, any careless behavior you committed that contributed to the crash can lower the amount of compensation you would otherwise receive. For example, if you are distracting the driver with conversation or sudden movements, this can be used to reduce your compensation award.
You Should Retain Separate Counsel
If you are injured in a car wreck in which you were the passenger in a vehicle being driven by a friend or distant family member, it may be tempting to “split” the cost of an attorney by having one attorney represent the two of you. While this may sound like a good, cost-saving idea, seriously consider the potential ramifications of taking this course of action before agreeing to such an arrangement. If an investigation into the causes of the car accident reveals that your driver’s own negligence played a role in the crash, your “joint” attorney will not be able to assist you in recovering compensation from your driver due to a conflict of interest. This would prevent you from receiving the full amount of compensation to which you would otherwise be entitled. In order to recover against your driver, you would need to retain your own attorney to represent you, thus increasing the amount of time it takes for you to recover a compensation award.
If you were a passenger in an injury accident in Greenville or elsewhere in South Carolina, contact David R. Price, Jr., P.A. right away for assistance in pursuing compensation for your injuries and expenses. David R. Price, Jr. is committed to ensuring his clients have the best opportunity for recovering financial damages for their injuries by thoroughly investigating the cause(s) of his clients’ car accidents and moving aggressively to hold those at fault responsible. Call his office today or contact his office online for assistance.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.