Passenger Negligence & Liability in Auto Accidents

Passengers are typically just that, someone who is along for the ride as the driver makes his or her way to a destination. Therefore, it stands to reason that in most accident scenarios, a passenger will not impact liability. However, it is important to note that some passenger actions will impact personal injury claims. For this reason, we have created a list of situations where a passenger’s choices can impact negligence and liability in a lawsuit.

Passenger Duty

While a passenger who is involved in an accident is typically not liable for the crash, he or she may be unable to recover damages from the incident. If the driver of their car is the one who caused the accident, a passenger’s ability to make a successful tort is dependent on a variety of factors. For example, if a passenger willingly gets into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver, the traveler is unlikely to recover personal injury damages due to their “nonverbal consent” to the risk of injury.

Passenger nonverbal consent (and the possible forfeiture of recovery) can also pertain to:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Distracted driving (talking on the phone)
  • Drowsy driving
  • Failure to announce a foreseeable hazard

While passenger duty refers to a passenger’s ability to recover damages, passenger negligence is an entirely different situation.

Passenger Negligence

Passenger negligence does not exist, as only a driver can be found at fault for a car accident. However, suppose a passenger reaches out and grabs ahold of the steering wheel, resulting in a car crash. In this situation, who would be found at fault?

The reality is that any passenger who touches the steering wheel while the car is in motion has, in fact, turned into a driver of the vehicle.Therefore, a passenger will automatically “become” a driver if he or she touches the wheel, which can result in a successful tort claim against the passenger-turned-driver by other passengers or the initial driver.

Don't Wait to Get Help Today

As you can see, passenger duty and negligence can significantly impact someone’s ability to recover from a personal injury case. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident as a passenger, contact the Law Offices of Gerald Marcus now for a free consultation!

Call (800) 905-8777 to schedule a free consultation today!