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Passengers and Liability: What You Might Not Know


Thanksgiving has passed, and while many families are moving on excitedly to plan for Christmas and the New Year, a group of families in Polk County are grieving after losing their loved ones on Thanksgiving day to a vehicle accident on Highway 17. Eighty-one year old Earl Williams was driving north in his 4-door sedan when he attempted to turn west onto Earnest M. Smith Blvd. He was struck by a passenger van, driven by Jose Acosta. While Acosta and Williams was left with non-life threatening injuries, Williams’ two passengers Dwayne Williams and Daphine Myers (both of Wauchula) were killed in the collision.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Oftentimes, the passenger(s) in a vehicle are the ones injured or killed, not the driver. If you are the at-fault driver in an accident such as this though, and your passengers are the ones who end up injured or deceased, you could have some serious repercussions. Things you might not know about liability for your passengers are…

  • YOU are responsible for seat belt usage in your car. If someone is killed from not buckling up, you could be held liable, even if they’re of an adult age. If you have a friend that refuses to buckle up, don’t put yourself at risk. Either they buckle up, or they don’t ride in your car.
  • If a passenger is injured, you could be held liable for their medical costs if you are the driver at fault in the accident. That means even if they are insured, your insurance will be the one paying out toward their hospital and doctor costs.
  • Likewise, if a passenger is injured while in your car, you could be held liable for compensation. Just because they are a friend (or even a family member), when injuries and money are introduced to a situation, don’t assume you will not be at risk of a lawsuit or personal injury claim against you.
  • You could be held liable by a victim’s family if you were the at-fault driver. Again, don’t assume that family and friends will not step in and take you to court in the event of their loved one being lost in an accident that is your fault.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, or if you are attempting to file a claim against an at-fault driver for yourself, or on behalf of a lost loved one, give us a call. Sessums Law Group provides top-quality representation for our clients throughout the greater Lakeland area, and we can help guide you step-by-step.

Our condolences go out to all of the families involved in this Bartow crash over the Thanksgiving holiday. Accidents like this are never expected, and they’re even worse when they happen at a time when we are supposed to be celebrating with the ones we love. When the unexpected happens, WE STAND FOR YOU!

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