Can Passengers Be Held Liable for Causing a Crash in Savannah?

rowdy passengers distracting the driverWhen a collision occurs, typically fault will be assessed against one or more of the drivers involved. However, is it possible for a reckless or dangerous passenger to be held liable for causing a crash?

This article from Roden Law Firm explains the circumstances under which a passenger might be assessed with at least some liability for a crash.

Were you injured in a car crash caused by someone else? If so, our experienced car accident lawyers in Savannah may be able to help. Contact our law offices to discuss your situation and learn whether you may have legal options.

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How Can Someone Who Is Not Driving Cause a Crash?

The majority of the time, one or both drivers will be at fault in some way. However, if a passenger engages in unsafe or reckless behavior, then yes, he or she could be held liable if their actions lead to a crash.

Drivers hold the primary duty of care to follow traffic laws and take reasonable measures to avoid causing harm to others. However, passengers in Georgia also have a legal responsibility. Their duty includes not creating dangerous distractions or acting in a way that could cause the driver to lose control. Whether they are riding in someone else’s car or driving their own, that law applies.

What Behaviors Could Lead to a Passenger Being Liable for a Crash?

Passengers could be held liable for doing things that make driving unsafe through various actions. Common risky behaviors include:

Interfering With the Driver’s Ability to Operate Safely

This behavior includes things like covering the driver’s eyes or suddenly grabbing the steering wheel. Passengers have been known to press down on a driver’s foot while it is on the accelerator. All of these actions are extremely dangerous and could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Something quite common among younger teens riding as passengers is to incite the driver to go faster or run a red light. This behavior could result in someone getting injured or killed.

Distracting the Driver in Dangerous Ways

Younger, immature passengers may also think it is funny to do things that startle or distract the drivers, such as:

  • Shouting or startling the driver
  • Opening the door while the vehicle is moving
  • Deliberately spilling hot food or liquids on the driver

But these actions could cause a dangerous reaction, especially around other traffic. In residential areas, there is always the risk a child, pedestrian or cyclist might be in the road and get hit as a result of that passenger’s antics.

Being Aggressive Towards Other Drivers and Inciting Road Rage

Some passengers may think it is funny to gesture rudely or shout out the window at another driver. However, that is dangerous behavior that could quickly incite the other party to road rage. Other examples of behaviors that could incite road rage include:

  • Assaulting the driver or another passenger
  • Running around the vehicle at a traffic light
  • Inciting the driver to speed or race
  • Shouting out the window to cause trouble
  • Engaging with an aggressive driver in another car

These actions are dangerous and can cause drivers to lose control, leading to severe crashes.

Can a Passenger Cause a Driver to Crash?

Yes, a passenger’s behavior can cause a driver to crash. For example:

  • Grabbing the wheel on a highway can cause loss of control, especially on wet roads.
  • Punching the driver can lead to rear-end, sideswipe or other serious collisions.
  • Inciting the driver to speed can result in liability if injuries or deaths occur.

How Could a Driver Prove a Passenger Caused a Crash?

Proving a passenger caused a crash in Georgia can be challenging. Drivers are usually the liable party for crashes. However, a passenger could be at least partially liable if his or her actions led to the crash. To prove negligence, the victim must show:

  • The passenger owed a legal duty of care.
  • The passenger violated that duty.
  • The violation caused the crash.
  • The victim suffered damages.

Will Insurance Cover a Crash Caused By a Passenger?

Typically, the driver’s liability insurance covers the crash victims’ damages, regardless of the passenger’s involvement. In Georgia, drivers are responsible for not carrying reckless passengers. In some cases, a passenger could be partially liable and personally sued for damages. If the passenger is a minor, the claim might extend to a parent’s auto insurance policy. Discuss these situations with an attorney on a case-by-case basis.

Call Our Trusted Law Firm to Learn If You May Have a Case

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