If you are a passenger and the driver of the car gets into an accident and your property is damaged, who is liable?

UPDATED: Apr 9, 2011

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If you are a passenger and the driver of the car gets into an accident and your property is damaged, who is liable?

I was riding with a co-worker and she pulled into the rode without checking the rode causing a car to strike her vehicle in the front driver side. I was getting a ride to get my son when this happened and I had to find another ride to make it on time to get him from daycare, so I was not included in the police report. When I got home I realized my laptop that was with me was broken. When I later asked my co-worker I file it with her insurance she said that the insurance company wasn’t paying for the damage so she didn’t think they would do it for me. Can I make her pay for laptop repair?

Asked on April 9, 2011 under Accident Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue your coworker: if someone drives negligently and causes damage to another person's property, including a passenger's property, that person may be liable for the damage and have to pay repair or replacement cost. The fact that the insurer won't pay the driver for damage to her car is irrelevant in two ways:

1) If she was negligent, that may well obviate any responsibility under the terms of the policy to pay for her damage. However, that may not apply to obligations, under the terms of any policies, to other persons. You and she are different people, in different situations, claiming on different grounds (as insured, or as third-party).

2) Even if he insurance won't pay for your claim for some reason, nothing stops you from suing *her* if you think she's responsible and trying to get her to pay. You could even look to bring the action in small claims court and/or represent yourself, to reduce the cost of suing.

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