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Can Passengers Be Responsible for Accidents?


What happens if a passenger pressures you into reckless driving? What if they go further and cause an accident by grabbing the steering wheel? While it may sound unlikely, many people are hurt in passenger-caused accidents every year. If you ever find yourself in such an accident, you’ll want to know whether passengers can be responsible for accidents.

When is a Passenger Liable?

Passengers are liable under certain circumstances. Imagine a heated argument in the car. The passenger gets so riled up that they grab or even attack the driver. The driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes into a streetlight.

The passenger would be liable because their assault and recklessness caused the crash. This is also the case if the passenger were to grab the steering wheel or even exit the vehicle while in motion.

Reckless passengers may be held partially liable for encouraging reckless behavior, as well. For example, if a passenger pressures a driver to drive on the curb or swerve around construction, they would be partially liable for the resulting damage. Even though the driver made the ultimate decision, it was the recklessness of their passenger that created the idea and spurred them into action.

How You Can Prevent Accidents

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you are seriously worried that your passenger may cause an accident, you should pull over. Creating tension with a passenger will result in far less pain than the crash, the insurance claims, speaking to an attorney, and seeking medical treatment.

If your passenger is sufficiently distracting, if they are screaming or hitting you, don’t be afraid to pull over. Try to talk to them and let them know that the distraction makes it difficult for you to drive. If the passenger does not calm down, you are within your rights to ask them to exit your vehicle. When you pull over to address the passenger directly, you are significantly reducing your chances of getting into an accident caused by a reckless passenger.

If you or someone you love were injured due to passenger interference, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Southern California auto injury attorney from McGee, Lerer & Associates to evaluate your claim, please call (310) 231-9717 or send us an email.

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