Many people believe that only the driver of the vehicle that caused a car accident is at fault. However, in some situations, passengers may be held liable for contributing to the car accident and the damages and injuries it caused. Here we explore a few instances in which passenger negligence can result in a car crash and what to do if you’ve been injured in an auto accident as a result of passenger negligence.
What is negligence?
Negligence is a term used to describe the act of behaving recklessly, carelessly, or thoughtlessly in a way that causes harm or damage. Negligence is a legal theory typically used in motor vehicle accident cases and most commonly is used to describe the driver who caused the accident. Proving that a person’s negligence resulted in a car collision enables the other party to seek compensation for damage and injuries.
Examples of negligence in car accident cases include:
- Running a red light
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Failing to yield
- Failing to stop for a pedestrian crossing the road
- Failing to use a turn signal when making a turn
- Not turning on headlights and taillights when driving at night
- Texting and driving
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substances
- Violating traffic laws
- Aggressively driving
- Driving while tired
Negligence can be highly dangerous and is a primary cause of auto accidents today. When negligence results in a car crash and the case goes to court, various elements must be proved by the injured party to receive compensation. These factors include:
- Breach of the duty of care
- Proof of damages caused by negligence
- Duty of care to the person or persons injured
- Injuries caused by the breach of the duty of care
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What is the duty of care?
Every person has a duty to enact certain care in their daily activities that helps prevent harming others and themselves. In terms of driving, this duty of care includes:
- Obeying traffic laws
- Staying alert
- Keeping an eye out for road hazards
- Taking proper care of your car
When a driver or passenger in a car breaches this standard duty of care and is involved in a car accident as a result, they may be held liable for the accident.
Can passengers be held liable for negligence?
In most cases, passenger negligence is not considered a viable factor when determining and arguing the cause of a car accident. However, in unique situations, a passenger may be held responsible for compensating the victim or victims of a car accident. For example, when a passenger’s actions such as reaching for the steering wheel causes a car accident. When the passenger puts their hands on the wheel of the car while it’s in motion, the passenger is taking the role of the driver. As a result, the passenger is seen as liable in the accident and can be held accountable for the injuries and damages that come as a result of the collision.
When can a passenger not recover compensation in an auto accident?
While passengers are rarely held liable for causing a car accident, there are situations in which a passenger isn’t able to recover compensation due to their role in the car crash. A good example of when a passenger would not be able to get compensation for damages or injuries is when the passenger knowingly gets into a car with a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. By doing so, the passenger gives the driver “nonverbal consent” that they are okay with the driver driving under the influence.
Other situations that may discount a passenger’s ability to get compensation after a car accident include:
- Driving with a driver who is participating in distracting behavior such as texting or eating food
- Getting in the car with a driver who is visibly fatigued
- A passenger’s failure to alert the driver to a hazard that they see before the driver
- Riding in the car with a driver who is driving significantly over the speed limit
- Driving with a reckless driver
- Factors that go into a negligence claim
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If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was the direct result of a driver’s or passenger’s negligence, you’ll be responsible for proving several elements during your negligence claim lawsuit. These elements include:
- Proving the duty of reasonable care: The law already requires drivers to take on a certain level of reasonable care, or in other words to be careful when coming across others on the road. This particular element is typically easy to prove.
- The negligence of the defendant: This element shows the court that the driver who caused the accident was acting in a way that violated their duty of reasonable care. For example, a driver who ran a red light or didn’t look out for pedestrians before driving would be considered negligent.
- That the negligence of the defendant caused the injuries: If you are seeking compensation for injuries, you must prove that the injuries were a direct result of the car accident caused by the negligent defendant. You can do this by obtaining documentation from a physician who treated your injuries. The goal is to prove that your injuries occurred during the car accident and are not pre-existing conditions.
- You suffered losses as a result of the accident: In order to claim compensation from a car accident, you must show that you suffered losses in some capacity. Common losses incurred from an auto collision include lost wages from missing work, costs associated with injuries (for example, medical expenses), and property damage.
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If you’ve been injured in a car accident and believe that the other driver or the driver’s passenger’s negligence is to blame for the collision, you may be eligible for compensation. To ensure you get the most compensation possible, it’s important to work with a trusted personal injury attorney who will take your case seriously and fight for your rights and needs. Feel free to contact the car accident attorneys at the Florin|Roebig law offices today for a free consultation. Our law firm has years of experience, and we’d love to stand by your side and ensure you get the compensation for your claim that you are entitled to.