Metro News reported recently on a deadly single vehicle car accident in West Virginia. It happened on a Thursday morning at approximately 3:30 AM on Route 817 shortly before the highway crosses underneath the Interstate 64 Nitro / St. Albans Bridge. The driver of the vehicle was taken to a local medical center for treatment, his 31-year-old passenger was fatally injured. The cause of the collision is still under investigation, but deputies indicate alcohol was likely a contributing factor in the single vehicle accident.
When car accidents occur and passengers are harmed or killed, the passenger or his surviving family members need to understand their legal rights. The passenger can sometimes take legal action against other motorists or the driver who was operating the vehicle.
Passengers Rights After West Virginia Car Accidents
West Virginia is a fault state, which means the victims of car accidents can pursue claims for compensation against any person who caused a collision to occur. When a passenger is riding in a car, they are not in control of a vehicle and unable to cause a crash. As a result, someone else is always at fault for any harm that occurs to the rider.
If the car accident was caused by a motorist in a different vehicle than the one in which the passenger was riding, the victim could pursue a case for damages from the other driver. If the driver of the car the passenger was riding in behaved in a negligent or unsafe way and caused a crash, this can result in the driver being held liable. Passengers and their families should not be hesitant to make a claim for compensation, even if the driver at fault was a friend of the victim. The driver has insurance and the insurance company will be the one who pays collision bills or wrongful death damages.
If a passenger is to pursue a case against the driver of the car they were riding in, it will be necessary to prove the driver's negligent or careless actions were the direct cause of the crash. In situations like this recent accident where the driver was intoxicated, the victim can demonstrate this led directly to the crash happening.
To try to avoid serious or fatal crashes, passengers should avoid getting into cars with motorists who have had too much to drink. Each year, approximately 10,000 people die in accidents because of drunk drivers, and many of those who are killed are either intoxicated themselves or in a vehicle with someone who has had too much to drink. To protect yourself, choose a designated driver before going out to drink and if your designated driver ends up consuming alcohol, do not get into a car with that person.