Can a Passenger Recover Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident?

drunk driving accident

Drunk driving is a serious offense that can lead to devastating accidents. When damages and injuries are sustained from an Indiana drunk driving accident, injured victims have a right to take legal action against the drunk driver, including individuals who were passengers in an affected vehicle. However, understanding your rights as a passenger and navigating a personal injury claim can be confusing, especially after you’ve been injured and are focusing on your recovery.

In Indiana, there are laws that allow passengers to file claims against negligent drivers to recover damages. Generally, anyone who is injured in an accident has the right to file a claim against an at-fault party. However, as a passenger, who you can hold liable depends on the individual situation and how the accident occurred.

If you have questions or concerns about a personal injury claim as an injured passenger, contact a local DUI accident attorney. At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, we can review your case and offer you guidance on the best course of action to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages. 

Who Can Be Held Liable For a Passenger’s Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident?

As mentioned above, who you can hold liable and how you recover damages as a passenger will depend on the situation. Generally, you will have two options for who you can file a claim against: 1) The drunk driver of the other car that hit you OR 2) The drunk driver of the car you were riding in.

In Indiana, passengers have a right to file a claim against the negligent driver of another car. If that driver hit the vehicle you were riding in, and they were responsible for causing the accident, you can file a claim against them to recover damages.

You may also file a claim against the driver of the car you were riding in if their negligent actions, such as driving drunk, caused an accident to occur. However, Indiana code does restrict passengers from filing a claim against certain parties with whom they are familiar. If the person driving the car was your parent, spouse, child, or sibling, you cannot file a claim against them to recover damages. If anyone else was driving, such as a friend or a cousin, for example, you will still be able to file a claim against them.

How Indiana’s Comparative Fault Laws Can Affect Your Claim As a Passenger

While you do have the legal right to file a claim against a negligent drunk driver as a passenger, it’s important to understand that you could also be held partially liable. Indiana is a comparative fault state, which means if you contributed to the accident in any way, the damages you can recover will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.

For example, if you knew the driver of the car you were riding in was drunk and impaired, you may be seen as having voluntarily put your own life at risk knowing what could happen. In this case, you will likely still be able to file a claim and recover damages, but the amount you are awarded will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.

Proving Fault After a Drunk Driving Accident as a Passenger

Personal injury claims are based on negligence, meaning you must be able to show that another person or driver acted negligently to recover damages when you file a claim. Drivers owe passengers a “duty of care,” or in other words, they have a responsibility to operate their vehicle with reasonable care so as not to cause harm to others. When you file a claim, you have to prove that the driver acted negligently by breaching their duty of care.

This is done by showing:

  1. That the drunk driver owed you a duty of care
  2. That the driver breached that duty by acting negligently and driving drunk
  3. That you as the passenger were injured
  4. That the drunk driver’s breach of duty was the cause of your injury

Proving that a drunk driver was at fault and breached their duty of care is not always as easy and straightforward as it seems. The insurance company of the drunk driver could try to reduce the settlement amount by claiming that you were partially responsible. This is why it’s crucial for injured passengers to work with an attorney. A personal injury attorney can advocate for your rights and guide you through the case to ensure the drunk driver is held wholly accountable and responsible for paying your damages. 

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery — Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are injured as a passenger by a drunk driver, our team of legal experts can help. At Poynter & Bucheri, our attorneys are dedicated to helping injured passengers like yourself file a claim to recover the damages they deserve. Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.