What's a passenger's liability in a drunk driving accident?

by Charles
(Detroit, MI)

If a drunk driver and a drunk passenger are in an accident, and someone is injured, what is the potential liability of the passenger? Both are under 21, unfortunately. They were out at a party together, and the driver drove home in the passenger's vehicle.

Is the passenger/vehicle owner's insurance responsible for paying for the damages? What about the drunk driver's liability and auto insurance? Does the fact they are both under age affect the outcome? Thanks for any information you can provide!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "What's a passenger's liability in a drunk driving accident?":

Charles (Detroit, MI):

The owner and driver of the car are both liable for the accident and resulting property damage to the other driver's car. Property damage can include personal items such as cell phones, computers, jewelry, etc.

However, the State of Michigan is a no-fault insurance state. Under Michigan's no-fault law, drivers who are injured in car accidents must first turn to their own car insurance companies for compensation for medical bills and related damages after a car accident.

While no-fault insurance pays for an injured person's medical bills and resulting costs, the law does not allow compensation for pain and suffering. This is true regardless of who caused the accident.

To read more about Michigan's no-fault law read:

Brief Explanation of Michigan No-Fault Insurance

There are exceptions to Michigan's no-fault insurance law. Under special circumstances, a victim in a car accident may pursue the negligent driver, and the driver's insurance company when the injured person meets sustains a "threshold injury."

In the State of Michigan, a Threshold Injury is defined as:

- A serious impairment of body function. Serious impairment is "an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects that person’s ability to lead his or her normal life."

- A closed head injury. A closed head injury is a trauma to the brain caused by a blow to the head, or a sudden, violent motion which causes the brain to collide with the skull.

- Permanent serious disfigurement.

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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