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Rights of Injured Passengers in Auto Accident Cases

Passengers injured in automobile accidents have a right to recover compensation for their losses. It does not matter whether the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was riding or the driver of another vehicle was at fault for the accident. In fact, a number of automobile insurance policies may be available to compensate an injured passenger. Of course, under some insurance policies, the passenger may be an excluded person. For instance, an automobile insurance policy with a passenger for consideration exclusion clause would not cover the passenger, who routinely paid the driver to take the passenger on errands or to an airport.

In most cases, insurance exists that will cover the passenger’s loss. In a two-car collision, in which the passenger is riding in car A, automobile insurance policies can be in effect for the drivers of both cars A and B. Further, the passenger may also be covered by his or her own policy. If car B was not insured, in most states, the insurance company of vehicle A has primary uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for the passenger. The insurance company of a passenger in vehicle A has excess coverage for that passenger.

If a driver and his or her passenger want to sue another driver for negligence in an automobile accident, the driver and passenger may be able to use the same attorney. So long as the interests of the driver and passenger are not adverse, the dual representation is fine. However, if their interests are adverse, they cannot be represented by the same attorney, unless the nature of their interests are such that the attorney does not believe that they will affect the attorney’s duties to the passenger and driver and each of them consents after full consultation. Obviously, an attorney cannot simultaneously represent a driver and a passenger in automobile accident action if the passenger is pursuing a claim of negligence against the driver.

An automobile passenger can sue an insurance agent, who failed to obtain uninsured motorist coverage for a driver as the agent was contractually obligated to do. The passenger claimed that the agent’s breach of duty caused her to suffer directly as a third-party beneficiary of the breached obligation.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.