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Can Passengers Be Liable for Car Accidents?

Can Passengers Be Liable for Car Accidents?

shapiro.admin May 27, 2021 Car Accidents

Vehicle accidents occur regularly in and around Scottsdale, Arizona. In most cases, we will find that accidents are caused by the careless or negligent actions of one or more drivers on the roadway.

However, is it possible for a passenger to be held responsible for a vehicle accident?

Determining liability is incredibly important, particularly when it comes to deciding who gets what type of compensation in the aftermath of the incident.

Passenger Liability After a Scottsdale Vehicle Accident

When a vehicle accident occurs in Scottsdale or the surrounding areas of Arizona, law enforcement officials will usually investigate what happened to determine the cause of the incident. Liability must be determined. Usually, responsibility for a vehicle collision falls to one or more drivers involved in the incident. However, there are times when passengers take actions that cause a driver’s carelessness on the roadway. In these situations, accident victims could potentially recover compensation from that passenger.

Okay, but how could a passenger be held liable for an accident in Scottsdale?

When a person has a passenger in their vehicle, this significantly increases the chance that the driver will become distracted at some point on the trip. These types of distractions can occur in a variety of ways, including a child that causes their parent’s attention to shift from the roadway to the back seat. This could also include a heated or serious conversation that causes the driver to lose focus.

Usually, when an accident occurs because of these types of situations, it is not likely that the passenger will be held liable for the incident. For instance, even if a parent tries to make the case that their crying baby was the cause of the collision, the parent is still going to be held responsible for distracted driving.

However, what happens if a passenger does more than just distract the driver?

Scenarios Where the Passenger May be Liable

In order to look at how passengers may be held liable for a collision in Scottsdale, we want to set up some theoretical scenarios for you to imagine.

First, we want to imagine that there are a group of five or six people in a vehicle, and they are all teenagers. Statistically, we know that individuals in this age range will be more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, particularly when they are in a group. What would happen if a passenger or a group of passengers decided to encourage the driver to do something dangerous? Some of the dangerous activities we can think of in this situation include racing other vehicles on the roadway, riding a vehicle on the sidewalk, going fast over a bump or hill, and alcohol inside the vehicle. In these situations, it may be possible to hold the passenger or group of passengers responsible for the incident.

Now, even though the driver is still likely going to be held primarily responsible for any accident that occurs, there are others in the vehicle that could share blame for the incident. Anytime a passenger encourages the drive to do something dangerous or illegal, they should be held responsible for their actions.

There may also be times when passengers take actions that directly cause the accident. For example, we can imagine a scenario where a passenger decides to grab the steering wheel and turn it quickly, causing a vehicle to spin out of control and crash into others on the roadway. There could also be times when a passenger stomps on the brakes or the accelerator or even switches gears without the driver’s consent.

Holding passengers accountable means that it has to be proven that their actions caused or contributed to the incident. This can be difficult. After a vehicle accident, it can be challenging to prove that a driver caused a collision, so imagine how hard it would be to show that a passenger played a role in the crash. If you or somebody you love has been involved in an accident and believes that a passenger contributed to the incident, you should speak to a skilled Scottsdale vehicle accident attorney who can use their resources and investigate the entire incident.

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