Guest statute

A guest statute is a term used in the law of torts to describe a statute that makes it significantly more difficult for a passenger in an automobile to recover damages from the driver for injuries received in an accident resulting from ordinary negligence on the part of the driver. Instead, passengers are limited to suits based on gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. The statute may also place a cap on the damages to be awarded, or limit damages to compensation for actual physical injuries.

The original purpose of the guest statute was both to protect drivers from frivolous litigation and to protect insurance companies from collusive and fraudulent suits (wherein the passenger sues the driver in order to collect from the driver's insurer). For the same reason, some states also passed aviation guest statutes, which limit the liability of non-commercial airplane passengers. Many guest statutes now appear to have been abolished.[1] For example, Nebraska's guest statute was repealed in 2010 following a court case upholding its constitutionality.[2] Oregon maintains a guest statute applicable to non-paying passengers in aircraft or watercraft limiting claims for injury, death or loss in case of an accident, unless the accident was intentional on the part of the owner or operator or caused by the gross negligence or intoxication of the owner or operator.[3]


  1. Ala. Stat. Sec. 32-1-2
  2. Neb. Rev. Stat. Sec. 25-21,237
  3. "ORS ยง 30.115".

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