Passengers get hurt, too - should they sue?

It's good to remember that drivers aren't the only people injured in car crashes. Passengers get hurt, too - often worse than drivers, who have the steering wheel to hold onto in a collision.

Passengers can be friends of the driver, family members, children, or (as happens in cases involving Uber drivers) complete strangers.

A stranger will feel comfortable including you, the driver, among the people he or she is suing for compensation.

Family members are unlikely to sue you - though they may have to, if they have no other way to pay medical bills and stay alive until they go back to work.

Your children will definitely not sue you - although, there probably are cases of this happening.

Then there are your friends. Your friends face a difficult choice, whether to sue you or to eat the expenses themselves - out of friendship.

How do you sue your friend?

Injuring a friend riding in your can will likely be a real test of your relationship. Isn't it rude and unfriendly to sue your friend? Won't their premiums go up if you sue?

You both need to assess the situation. Can either one of you afford the costs from this injury? There is always the option of giving your friend an agreed-upon amount of money, and keep the problem private. But in any moderate to serious injury we are talking about many thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. That kind of money puts a strain on the most fervent friendship.

What we see most often is the injured friend going ahead and filing the claim. After all, this is what insurance is for - to make difficult moments like this a little easier to get through.

If you find yourself in this kind of situation - as the culpable driver or the injured passenger - don't be afraid to pursue your rights. After all, if your friend can't understand this very rational fact - what kind of friend were they all along?

What Tennessee law says

Under Tennessee law, a passenger may sue you for compensation, but only if your negligence led to the injury. If you were lighting a cigarette and drove into a telephone pole, your passenger has the right to sue you.

If another driver was the negligent party, the passenger will have to sue that party. This holds true if the culprit was a bad tire (defective product), or if the city did not clear the street of fallen debris (dangerous roadway).

Another factor to consider is the friend's own auto insurance policy. Some, but not all, insurance policies indemnify the holder against accidents happening in other cars. The friend may need a lawyer to negotiate the insurance payout - insurance companies don't like writing checks - but the problem can be resolved on that level.

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