Private Insurance as a Solution to the Driver-Guest Dilemm

The duty of the driver of an automobile to his nonpaying passenger, and liability arising from the breach of that duty, has long presented a troublesome area of litigation for the courts and the parties involved. Application of standards unsuited for the peculiar risks of automotive transportation has produced inadequate compensation in some cases and excessive recoveries in others. Meanwhile, trial calendars are overcrowded with personal injury litigation, and insurance companies must bear the awards of sympathetic juries and those resulting from collusion between passenger and driver. The over-all expense of this method of determination of liability, far too little of which actually goes to compensate the injured plaintiff, is passed on to the public in the form of higher insurance premiums. It is the purpose of this comment to review the approaches heretofore used in defining the driver’s duty, and to offer a solution which, by eliminating the inherent difficulties in these approaches, might afford a fairer and more workable means of compensating the injured guest.