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A Passenger's Guide to Drunk Driving Accidents

Most people understand that they can claim compensation for damages from a drunk driver who causes a collision with their vehicle. However, many victims don’t know their rights as a passenger injured in an accident — particularly if they are riding in a car with a drunk driver.

Even if you were traveling in the drunk driver’s vehicle at the time of the accident, you maintain the right to claim damages from the liable driver — in most cases. Any driver that gets behind the wheel is responsible for a “duty of care.” That means they are required to behave in a way that you would expect any reasonable person to act under similar circumstances. 

When a driver neglects their duty of care — for instance, when they get behind the wheel while intoxicated — and that negligence leads to an accident with another vehicle, passengers in either vehicle may pursue compensation for injuries and other damages in an insurance claim or civil action. This is known as a third-party insurance claim, and it can be made against either or even both drivers’ liability insurance policies.

However, any time there are multiple parties and insurance policies involved in an accident, it can complicate your case and potentially limit the amount of compensation you can recover. Consulting with a drunk driving accident lawyer and educating yourself is the best way to build a strategy to obtain any compensation allowed under the law. Read on to learn more about drunk driving accident claims for passengers.

What to Know About Third-Party Passenger Claims

In order to sue for damages in a third-party passenger claim, you will need to be able to prove that the individual driving you is liable for the accident. You will also need to clearly document your injuries, expenses and noneconomic losses sustained in the accident.

Proving liability in drunk driving cases is sometimes more difficult than you might assume. This is because both drivers may be partially liable if it can be shown that they each contributed to the collision in some way. For instance, if the other driver was texting at the time of the accident, they may be found to be partially liable for the accident, even if they were hit by a drunk driver. 

In Texas, assigning each drivers’ level of responsibility for an accident is a key part of proving an accident claim. This is because a claimant’s right to secure damages is impacted by the responsibility they share in an accident. For instance, a claimant who is determined to be over 50 percent responsible for the incident is not allowed to claim any damages under the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code.

Typically, passengers are not assigned blame for an accident. However, when there is unclear or shared liability, it is easier for either party’s insurance to partially or fully deny third-party accident claims. For this reason, many individuals choose to engage a drunk driving accident lawyer to help them with their claim. An experienced attorney can help you prove liability in an accident and advocate for your right to recover compensation as allowed under the law.

A lawyer can also help you document your injuries and prove damages and losses associated with your accident. They can even help you obtain care and identify ways to pay for treatment while you wait for your case to be resolved.

You May Have Trouble Filing an Insurance Claim Against a Relative

Although passengers can file an insurance claim against a driver transporting them at the time of the accident, this action becomes more complicated when the driver and the passenger are related. In many cases, insurance providers will try to disclaim any insurance coverage for injured family members. However, such disclaimers have been deemed invalid in Texas. Instead, in Texas, if your family member was the driver who hurt you, the maximum you can likely recover from their insurance will be $30,000.

Recovering compensation in any accident can be difficult, but is even more complex when there are multiple parties claiming damages. You will need to understand how insurance providers operate and how you can hold liable parties responsible for damages. To help you with this, FVF offers a free case evaluation for all accident victims. In your consultation, our drunk-driving car accident lawyers will outline your rights and options and help you decide how best to move forward with your case. Contact us now to get started.



Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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