When Could a Passenger Be at Fault for Causing a Car Accident?

passenger distracting driverWhen insurers assess fault for a car accident, the focus is generally on the drivers involved. There are many reasons a driver may be to blame: speeding, distracted driving, drowsy driving or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

But what if a passenger distracted the driver or interfered with his or her ability to operate the vehicle in a safe manner?

When passengers act recklessly, they may be held responsible for a crash. Depending on the situation, the driver and passenger could share fault. 

If you have been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, a licensed Green Bay car accident lawyer at our firm is here to help. Find out if you may have a case during a consultation at no cost to you.

The initial consultation is free. (877) 888-5201.

Responsibilities of a Passenger in a Car

Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely, as they are the ones at the wheel. A driver’s duty includes following traffic laws, maintaining a safe distance between his or her vehicle and others and being aware of his or her surroundings.

While passengers are not in control of the vehicle, they can take steps to help the driver, such as looking out for unsafe conditions or bad habits the driver engages in. For example, passengers can remind drivers to wear a seatbelt or ask them to slow down if they exceed the speed limit.

It is important for passengers to allow drivers to stay focused on the road. That means not creating any kind of dangerous or distracting situation that may cause the driver to get into an accident. 

Ways Passengers Can Distract Drivers

Passengers who divert the driver’s attention away from the task of driving can cause a serious car accident. Some passenger behaviors that may distract a driver include:  

  • Arguing or fighting with the driver
  • Blocking the driver’s line of sight
  • Taking photos or video of the driver
  • Showing the driver a text message or social media post
  • Messing with the stereo, navigation system or another electronic device

Proving Passenger Liability for a Crash

It is important to note that drivers have an obligation to safely operate their vehicle, even if a passenger starts to act out of control. The driver will still be held liable if a car accident happens. In these situations, it is best for the driver to pull over to the side of the road to prevent a crash.

However, in other situations, a driver may not be able to ignore the passenger’s actions or avoid a car accident. Examples include a passenger grabbing the steering wheel, opening the car door or pushing the gas or brake pedals while the vehicle is in motion. 

If a passenger purposefully or recklessly created a situation in which the driver was forced to take his or her eyes off the road, the passenger could be legally liable for the crash and resulting damages. Proving liability in these cases be complicated without an experienced lawyer by our side, especially when it is your word against the only other passenger traveling in your vehicle.

What Happens if the Passenger and Driver Share Fault?

If the driver could have disregarded the passenger’s actions or avoided a car accident, both parties can share fault. Each party may be assigned a percentage of fault.

Under Wisconsin’s comparative negligence system, a party may be able to pursue compensation as long as they are not more at fault than the other party. Otherwise, you will be ineligible to recover damages. 

Our Firm is Ready to Protect Your Legal Rights

Sigman Janssen is here to help you after being injured in a crash due to negligence. If we validate your case and you work with our firm, we are ready to conduct an accident investigation to collect the evidence needed to build a strong case on your behalf. Our firm has recovered millions in compensation for Wisconsin residents.

Read what some of our clients have to say about us. The initial consultation is 100 percent free without any obligation to move forward. If we do represent you, we charge nothing up front for our services and only receive payment if we help you obtain compensation. 

Find out if you have a case. Ph: (877) 888-5201