Many California residents are injured when they are passengers in a vehicle that has been involved in an auto accident. Passenger claims are unlike driver claims because they typically have no assessment for personal fault unless there are unusual circumstances where they attempt to interact with the driver while in the vehicle. And even in these rare situations, they still can file claims under the California pure comparative negligence law.
Standard claimable elements
While passengers will not always have a claim for physical property damages in most car accident cases, they can file for financial reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages when they cannot work, and general damages for mental anguish due to involvement in the accident. Additionally, pain and suffering compensation can also be demanded for lingering issues with their validated accident injuries.
Possible punitive damages
Punitive damages could be available when passengers are involved in certain car accidents where negligent drivers have shown gross disregard for others while behind the wheel. This most commonly occurs in drunk driver accidents, but can extend to accidents caused by reckless drivers or intentional acts that cause a crash. However, punitive damages can only be awarded by a jury following a full trial where material gross negligence evidence is presented.
Injured passengers can also file claims against all negligent parties when involved in certain crashes. Not only do they have standing for claims against the owner of the vehicle in which they were riding, but they can pursue other negligent drivers as well in multi-car accidents. And when involved in commercial vehicle accidents, there could also be vicarious liability claims available in pursuit of whole financial damages. This especially applies in trucking accidents when shipment contractors failed to load cargo properly and the failure contributed to accident causation.