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Can a Passenger Be Responsible for Causing an Accident?

A lot of people mistakenly believe that only drivers can be held responsible for causing a car accident. This is true to some degree. Often, insurance companies do not even consider passenger negligence when investigating a car accident and establishing its cause. In some situations, however, passengers may be found partially at fault for a crash and liable for the injuries and damages resulting from it.

How Can a Passenger Be Held Liable for a Car Crash?

While most insurance claims and personal injury cases arising from motor vehicle crashes that involve drivers and passengers are normally filed against drivers, there are certain cases in which a driver, another motorist, or a passenger involved in the crash can recover damages from at-fault passengers. The following are common examples of situations in which passengers may be found liable for a car crash:

  • Enabling or encouraging the driver: A passenger can be held liable for a crash if they enable or encourage the driver to drive, knowing that the driver was unfit to drive. For instance, begging an obviously fatigued driver to get behind the wheel. Another example is a passenger pressuring or goading a driver to engage in dangerous driving behavior, such as racing with other cars, speeding, or running a red light, among others.
  • Distracting the driver – A passenger who diverts the focus of a driver from driving safely can easily cause a crash. Common examples include fighting or arguing with the driver, tinkering with the radio, showing the driver something on a cellphone, etc.
  • Trying to control or operate the car as a passenger – A passenger can be held liable for a crash if they push the brake or gas pedals while the car is moving or if they grab the wheel despite being a passenger.
  • Providing the driver incorrect information – This can include not notifying a driver of another car passing by as the driver was backing up and telling the driver that it was safe to do so. Also, this can include intentionally failing to warn the driver of obvious driving hazards.
  • Giving the driver illegal substances or alcoholic drinks before riding the car with the intoxicated driver – If the driver was willing to take the drugs or alcohol, liability for the crash may only rest on the driver. On the other hand, the passenger may also be found partially liable for the crash if they coerced the driver into taking drugs or alcohol.

Seek Legal Advice from a Clearwater Car Accident Attorney

A claim involving passenger negligence in a motor vehicle crash can be very difficult to prove. This is particularly true in cases in which only the passenger and driver were the only people in the vehicle when the crash occurred. If you have any questions about passenger negligence and potential liability in a car crash, do not hesitate to contact Tragos, Sartes & Tragos today for legal advice. Arrange a free consultation with our Clearwater car accident attorney by contacting us online or calling 727-441-9030.