Is It Possible For A Passenger To Be Held Liable For A Motor Vehicle Accident?
Often, people assume that the driver of the vehicle that caused a crash is liable for the accident. The truth is, sometimes, passengers can also be held liable for motor vehicle accidents. Although passenger negligence is never an issue in most accidents, a passenger may be held liable in some unique circumstances. Generally, a special set of circumstances must be present for a passenger to be held liable for an accident.
Who Is a Passenger?
A passenger is an individual who travels in a vehicle while someone else drives the vehicle and has little to no responsibility for operating the vehicle.
Why a Passenger Cannot Generally Be Held Liable
Often, injured passengers are innocent victims of vehicle collisions and cannot be held liable because they have little to no control over drivers’ actions. Passengers are usually “along for the ride.”
When a Passenger Can Be Held Liable
While passengers are often not held liable for vehicle accidents, passengers can be held liable in some unique circumstances. For instance, if a passenger grabs the steering wheel, they could be held liable if an accident occurs because of their actions. Also, if a passenger attacks or interferes with a driver, the passenger could be considered negligent and held liable if their action causes a collision.
Can Passenger Negligence Prevent Recovery for Damages?
Even though passengers are rarely held responsible for vehicle collisions, some situations can prevent passengers from obtaining compensation. An example of when a passenger may not be able to obtain compensation after being in an auto accident is if they knowingly got into a vehicle with a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even when such a passenger is able to obtain compensation, due to Florida’s pure comparative negligence rule, the chances are, their monetary award will be reduced because of their percentage of fault for getting into the vehicle with a drunk driver. By getting into a vehicle with a drunk driver, a passenger gives the driver “nonverbal consent” that they are all right with the driver driving in their drunk condition.
Other situations that may affect a passenger’s ability to recover compensation or the amount of compensation a passenger recovers after an accident include:
- A passenger getting into a vehicle with an evidently fatigued driver
- A passenger failing to warn a driver about a hazard they see before the driver
- A passenger riding with a reckless driver
- A passenger riding in a vehicle with a driver who is driving over the speed limit
Contact Us for Legal Help
Cases involving passenger negligence can be complicated. So, if you believe your accident was caused by passenger negligence, you need to speak to an experienced attorney. Also, if you believe that, as a passenger, you are not at fault for the accident you were involved in or your percentage of fault should be reduced, reach out to a skilled attorney. Our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at The Pendas Law Firm can assess your case and offer you professional legal advice and help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Ocala, Orlando, Bradenton, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Daytona Beach areas.