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Orange County Car Accident AttorneyWhen you think about a car crash, you automatically believe that a driver is at fault. However, not all car accidents are created equal. In some unique situations, a passenger in one of the cars may actually be responsible for the collision. Overall, a special set of facts must be in place in order for a passenger to be at fault for a motor vehicle accident. 

Having a passenger in your car can be distracting, especially if the individual is likely to engage in high-risk behavior. If your passenger encourages you to engage in dangerous behavior, he or she may be held accountable for their actions.

 

Duties of a Passenger in a Car

 A passenger is merely a person who is riding in a car that another person is driving. In other words, a passenger is simply someone who is going for a ride to a location or is along for the ride with the driver. Having passengers in a car can increase the risk of the driver becoming distracted. For example, a crying child can divert your attention from the road, or a serious conversation could cause you to lose your focus. These types of situations are generally not likely to result in a case against the passenger.

However, the passenger can engage in certain types of actions or behavior that can actually cause an accident. That is, if the passenger did more than just distract the driver, that individual may be held liable for any resulting crash or injuries.

 

What Ways Can a Passenger Be Held Liable for a Car Accident?

Although a passenger is typically not held liable for a car accident, there are certain facts that can come into play that can hold a passenger totally or partially liable. One prime example is if the passenger knowingly and willingly enters a vehicle with a driver who is under the influence of a controlled substance, like alcohol or drugs. This is considered “nonverbal consent” to the risks to their safety.  

Another situation where a passenger can be held liable for a crash is when the individual forcibly reaches for the steering wheel.  In such a situation, if the passenger puts their hands on the steering wheel while the car is being driven, it automatically turns them into a driver as well. As such, if an accident happens when a passenger lunges for the steering wheel, they can be held responsible for compensating a victim who suffers injuries and damages.

Other actions that rise above the level of a passenger merely distracting a driver includes:

  • Attempting to jump out of the car
  • Spilling something on the driver
  • Suddenly shouting or yelling
  • Encouraging the driver to engage in reckless or dangerous behavior such as drag racing
  • Frightening the driver
  • Assaulting the driver or another passenger in the vehicle

The bottom line is that if a passenger is found to have committed an egregious act, he or she may be found partially or completely at fault for the motor vehicle collision. Those injured in the crash can seek financial compensation from the passenger who caused the accident.

 

Steps Drivers Can Take If a Passenger is Causing a Disturbance

If you find yourself in a situation where a passenger in your car is disturbing you and you feel that their actions are distracting and creating a dangerous situation, you must take extreme caution to handle the situation properly.  You should immediately demand that they stop their actions and if they fail to listen to you, it is best to safely pull over and stop your car until the situation is resolved. If you are unable to fix the problem, you should either tell your passenger to leave your car, or in extreme cases, you may have to call the police to intervene. It is best to take these steps than to have to deal with an accident.

 

Types of Compensation a Passenger Can be on the Hook For

If you or your attorney can successfully prove that your passenger caused the crash, he or she may be on the hook for compensating the other parties involved and injured in the collision. Some types of damages that your passenger may be liable for include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional and mental trauma
  • Out of pocket expenses related to the accident

 

How Can an Attorney Prove an Accident Was Caused by a Passenger?

Passenger duty and negligence can have a considerable impact on what happens after a collision. If you believe that the passenger in your car had any degree of fault in having caused the accident, you should immediately contact an experienced Orange County car accident attorney to prove the claim and protect your legal rights.  

Since motor vehicle collisions caused by passengers can be complicated and difficult to prove, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney to:

  • Thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding the accident
  • Advise you on any options you may have under the law
  • Work tirelessly to achieve the best possible results in your injury case

The bottom line is that with the help of an experienced Orange County auto accident attorney who specifically deals with these types of cases, you can be confident that you are protecting your legal rights and making sure the correct party is held liable for the accident and resulting injuries. However, you should note that it is best to consult with an accident attorney sooner rather than later, as you have only two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit and certain key evidence in proving fault may not get lost or not be available as time goes on.

 

Contact an Experienced Orange County Car Accident Claim Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another party, you should discuss your legal options with a personal injury lawyer as you may be entitled to compensation. 

The Orange County car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates advocate for their clients’ full financial recovery through hard work and an aggressive approach. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 949-727-9300.