General Auto Insurance And Guest statutes

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Another purpose of “guest statutes” is to prevent collusion between car owners and their passengers, who often are relatives or friends. Compare general auto insurance quotes now.

Confusion results from the variety of terms used in “guest statutes.” “Willful negligence/’ “wanton misconduct/’ “heedlessness,” “recklessness/’ “reckless disregard or indifference to the rights of others” are strong words. You would almost think a man would have to be a criminal to be guilty of such conduct.

Yet the. courts give the passengers a break even under the harsh “guest statutes.” They use such soft language as to say that to be willfully negligent, “one must be conscious that his conduct will naturally or probably result in injury.” “Gross negligence” need only be “great” negligence. Wanton misconduct must be accompanied by “actual knowledge of the peril to be apprehended.” All that is pretty general—with enough latitude to allow juries to bring in verdicts in favor of passengers.

A passenger is not a “guest” under the “guest statutes” if he pays for the ride. Sometimes close questions arise as to whether a passenger who shares expenses is a guest. The purpose of the trip and previous arrangements for the trip may be important.

Common-law rule. In nineteen states and the District of Columbia, the “guest statutes” do not exist. These states which stick to the old-fashioned common-law rule of “ordinary negligence” are:

Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee
West Virginia, Wisconsin

(The courts of Georgia and Massachusetts say that for a passenger to collect, the driver must be guilty of gross negligence.) The common-law rule favors the passenger. In the nineteen states which have the common-law rule, claims of passengers arising from accidents involving two or more auto¬mobiles are generally regarded by insurance men and lawyers as “foolproof.” The only questions should be (1) the amount of the damages allowed, (2) which car owner or driver should pay. Find general auto insurance quotes online.

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