In most car accidents, the driver is automatically assumed to be responsible for the related damages. However, there are cases where the driver's passenger is also held at least partially responsible for the crash. Here are some of the situations in which a passenger may be deemed to have contributed to an accident:
Getting Involved In Driving
The most direct way in which a passenger may cause a car accident is to become directly involved in the driving of the car. This includes getting involved in the braking, steering, or control of the car. For example, a passenger who decides to grab the steering wheel or step on the accelerator can easily cause an accident. The person behind the wheel should be the only one involved in driving the car at any time.
Letting an Impaired Person Drive
A passenger may also be the indirect cause of an accident when they allowed an obviously impaired person to drive. This may be the case, for example, when a sober car owner hands their car keys over to an intoxicated person to drive. Another example is when a parent allows their unlicensed teenager to drive them home from the mall as an informal driving lesson.
Startling the Driver
Every person behind the wheel needs to focus on their driving and nothing else. Startling a driver, for example, can take their attention away from the road and cause them to crash into another motorist or object. Therefore, when a passenger suddenly yells to a driver, startles them, and causes them to crash, the passenger will be deemed to have contributed to the accident.
Causing Injury to the Driver
Causing injury to a driver is also a sure way of making them lose control over their driving, and this can also cause an accident. For example, when a passenger slaps a driver they are in an argument with or when a passenger spills hot coffee on a driver, it can lead to loss of control of the car and a crash.
Encouraging Risky Driving
Lastly, a passenger can also be held liable for an accident if they encouraged the driver in a risky behavior that ended up causing the crash. For example, a passenger can encourage their driver to overtake in a dangerous section of the road or to exceed the speed limits. Such actions will make the passenger at least partially liable for the ensuing crash.
If you are injured in an accident, you can maximize your recovery of damages by identifying all the liable parties. This means you should not leave out the passenger if you think they could have contributed, in any way, to the accident. A car accident lawyer will help you determine whether any passengers in your car should be held partially liable for your accident and how to prove it in court.Share