Are passengers who knowingly enter a drunk driver's car still covered?

by Tam

While driving down the road, I was hit out of the blue by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign. He had only liability insurance and I do not have under-insured motorist coverage. I sustained serious injuries requiring a long hospitalization.

The drunk's insurance company says the limited amount of medical coverage offered by his liability policy has to be split among me and the two passengers in the drunk's car, who were also injured.

However, investigation has revealed that both of the passengers were close friends with the drunk driver, knew he abused alcohol, were with him before the accident, knew he was drunk and still got in the car with him driving.

Are they still covered by the drunk's policy if they were deliberately negligent in this way? Is there any way I can get more compensation for my injuries? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Are passengers who knowingly enter a drunk driver's car still covered?":

Tam (Oklahoma):

The State of Oklahoma follows the 51% Modified Comparative Negligence rule.

The rule deals with an injured party’s contribution to his or her own injuries. Under the 51% rule, an argument can be made the passengers contributed to their own injuries by getting into the car when they knew the driver was intoxicated.

If they knew that, and it appears they did, then the court will have to decide whether their contribution to their own injuries equaled 51% or more. If so, they will be barred from receiving any compensation for their injuries.

Unfortunately, unless there is proof the passengers made alcohol available to the driver, facilitated his or her drinking alcohol while driving, or knew the driver was intoxicated when they entered the car, the passengers have as much right to compensation for their injuries as do you.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Explain the facts as you have here. If the attorney agrees with the 51% argument, he or she may accept your case. As a result, you may be entitled to the amount of compensation the injured passengers are seeking, and they would receive nothing.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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