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Driver Responsibility for Passenger Safety and Passenger Injury

Picture of a person putting on their safety bet in a car

Drivers are responsible for injuries they cause. You have the right to make a claim for compensation if you’re hurt in a car accident where you were a passenger.

Drivers are responsible if passengers are hurt

Passenger claims are extremely common. A passenger who is injured in a car accident has the right to claim compensation against the driver of any vehicle responsible for the accident.

The accident may have been caused by the driver of the car you were riding in. For example, you may be hurt in a single-car accident in which the car you are in collides with a post. Or the driver of the vehicle you are a passenger in may lose control and cause an accident by colliding with another vehicle. All car insurance policies in Ontario cover passengers, so in these types of cases, your claim would be against the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger.

If the accident was caused by the driver of another vehicle, your claim would be against that other driver. For example, if another car runs a red light and crashes into the car you are in, causing you serious injury. In some situations, the accident may have been caused by both the driver of the vehicle you are in and the driver of another vehicle. If that is the case, your claim would be against both drivers, and a determination of fault must be made by the insurance companies, lawyers, or the courts.

Does that mean you have to sue your friend or family member?

Passenger claims are very often brought against friends or family members. If your friend or relative was driving when you got hurt in a car accident, and they were wholly or partially at fault, you will need to claim against their insurance policy and name them in your lawsuit if one is necessary. Don’t let that deter you from bringing your claim. You are claiming against the driver in name only, and you are legally required to do so. The driver’s insurance company will be the one to defend your claim on the driver’s behalf. You are not going after your friend or relative’s personal assets if they have insurance. The driver’s insurance company pays for any compensation and pays for legal fees to defend the claim.

Can a passenger be at fault for a car accident?

For the most part, passengers are never at fault for car accidents. The situation is different if you were involved in causing the accident (e.g., pulling the steering wheel) or you did something that caused or contributed to your own injuries (e.g., sticking your head out the window or sunroof or failing to wear a seatbelt).

As a passenger, if you were not at fault for the accident or your injuries, you are entitled to recover the full amount of your damages. If you were responsible for the accident or your injuries in some way, you are entitled to recover only the amount of your damages that were caused by someone else’s negligence. For example, the fault may be divided 75/25 between a negligent driver and a negligent passenger. In that case, the passenger would recover 75% of their damages. If the passenger was severely injured, that would still be a sizeable amount.

Is a driver responsible for ensuring passenger seatbelt use?

Our Lindsay car accident lawyers get a lot of questions about driver responsibility for safety vis-a-vis seatbelts. In Ontario, drivers are responsible for (1) wearing their own seatbelts, (2) making sure every person in the vehicle has their own working seatbelt, and (3) ensuring that passengers under the age of 16 wear their seatbelts properly in the vehicle. So, if you are over the age of 16, it is your responsibility to buckle your seatbelt. Failure to do so can impact your personal injury claim. The amount you receive is reduced by the percentage you are partially responsible for, but only if the fault or contributory negligence is proven against you.

Are you an injured passenger? Consult with a car accident lawyer

Lindsay and Oshawa car accident lawyers from Kelly Greenway Bruce ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you get fair compensation for pain and suffering, wage loss, medical bills, and more. It’s important to connect with our car accident lawyers in Lindsay or Oshawa as soon as possible so we can gather evidence, guide you through the complicated insurance claims process, and start a lawsuit if necessary. Contact our dedicated team for a free case evaluation today.


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