We recently represented a woman who was involved in a one car accident. Her vehicle hit a parked car and she broke her arm.
During the initial meeting with the client we asked how the collision happened. She explained that she was driving a drunk friend home from a bar. The friend unexpectedly tried to climb into our client’s seat. While attempting to snuggle up to our client she grabbed the steering wheel. The vehicle driven by our client hit the parked car.
On the surface the case looked grim. Our client was driving. The steering wheel was grabbed by an intoxicated passenger who didn’t even have a driver’s license.
Fortunately, Washington has a surprising amount of case law about passengers causing accidents. If the passenger had auto insurance we could have sued her. Unfortunately she didn’t.
Undeterred, we submitted an uninsured motorist claim under our client’s own policy of insurance. Though uninsured motorist coverage typically comes into play when a person is hit by another vehicle, we saw no reason it shouldn’t apply in this case since the passenger (though momentarily) controlled the vehicle driven by our client.
The insurance carrier agreed with our analysis and paid its policy limits of $100,000 to our client. The facts were unusual. But a thorough understanding of the law and opportunities it presented allowed our client to receive full compensation for her injuries.