Gary Bruce answers another viewer question, submitted via Facebook. This viewer would like to know if a passenger can sue the driver of a vehicle they are riding in. Furthermore, what if that person is a family member? Georgia law allows passengers to sue drivers who are negligent. However, Alabama law encourages people to share rides and guest passengers cannot sue drivers. General tort law also places restrictions on lawsuits between family members, like suits between husbands and wives or parents and children.
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Narrator: Now, answering your questions about the law and legal issues, this is Legal Break with attorney, Gary Bruce.
Maureen: Hello there, we’ve got a couple of questions Gary, we want to jump right to them. We have a question from a viewer on Facebook who asked, and I’m going to read it verbatim and make sure we get it right, “Can a passenger sue the driver of the car they are riding in?” And a couple of follow-ups are: “What if they’re related?” and “Is the Alabama law different from Georgia?”
Gary: Well, good questions the answer is generally yes. If you’re just riding with somebody and they’re negligent in Georgia you can sue them. Now, husbands and wives, no, there’s an immunity there, so that’s generally a problem, but there’s exceptions to rules. But generally that would be the answer husband and wife. We want to we don’t want people going against each other who are married like that. There’s a chance of collusion, there’s harmony, and the family. And that also applies to children, but there can be exceptions to when a child can bring an action against a parent who has caused serious injuries. So, I guess the answer is you need to talk to somebody every case is a little different. The interesting – if it’s just an aunt or a brother there’s no limitations on these things. But in Alabama everything’s different. There’s a ancient law that was enacted years ago to encourage people to share rides. And in that law, it says a guest cannot sue. If you’re a guest passenger, you can’t sue the driver. So, you’re limited in if you’re just socially both driving to the grocery together, or whatever, or you’re just going here for some reason together, there cannot be a lawsuit. But, again exceptions abound. So if there’s wanton conduct where someone is impaired, or drives recklessly, yes you can. If you’re paying for the ride, or sharing the cost of the ride yes, that situation allows for it, and if you become captive, you think you’re just going somewhere but they start taking a different route, then in that situation you can also bring an action. So, you’ll hear about that in Alabama, the guest passenger statute, it does apply but there are exceptions that take things out of it. A lot of times you just have to be kind of -you have to understand the law. So give us a call if you have questions about that, and you know we’ve run a little long on this question today, but I would say if you have questions please send them to us. Please let us know. Send them to Facebook at my Law Office of Gary Bruce Facebook page, or WTVM, or send us an email, or just call us and let us know. We’d be happy to take the questions and answer them here in this format.
Maureen: Oh very good. And information has been up on the screen the whole time while we’ve been talking, and you’re definitely willing to take the questions as they come.
Gary: Right sure. I get calls during the week you know, people call us and I’m happy to take it. And somebody actually called this one into me separate from the one we got, so it’s a big issue in our part of the world. So we’re glad to answer them, hope this helps.
Maureen: Great, thanks so much Gary, we’ll see you on the very next Legal Break.