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Injured passengers sue owner of stolen car they rode in

A recent news story about an incident in Oregon highlights the complexity of some personal injury cases. The incident began when an 89-year-old Oregon man returned home from shopping to discover that someone had stolen his 1991 Thunderbird. The driver, a 35-year-old man who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol, was carrying two passengers when he stole the vehicle.

The car was eventually involved in an accident in which both passengers were injured. Now, those two passengers, a man and a woman, have filed a lawsuit over their injuries, naming both the driver and the owner of the vehicle as defendants.

The lawsuit targets the driver, who was tried and convicted for stealing the car.

An attorney for the passengers said the owner is liable because he often let the driver have access to the car, thus equipping the driver with the car that injured the passengers. According to a news report, the driver had previously done a number of odd jobs for the owner of the car. However, the owner of the car emphatically stated he never gave the man permission to take the car when he was involved in the accident.

The news report says the two passengers may possibly receive compensation from the man's insurance company, because the vehicle was fully insured. The insurance company will likely opt to pay out the settlement rather than bring the case to court.

Although this situation is unique and probably quite rare, it emphasizes the complexity of some personal injury cases. Although the situation is individual in every case, those injured are entitled to seek compensation in civil court in order to cover long-term medical bills and possible lost wages.

Source: Seattle Weekly, "George Hinnenkamp, elderly Oregon man, has car stolen and crashed -- is now being sued by folks who crashed in it," Curtis Cartier, Nov. 14, 2011

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