Drivers are responsible for the vast majority of car accidents in New York. However, a passenger could cause an accident just as easily as a driver. If a passenger tries to take control of the vehicle or interferes with its operation in a significant way, the law might hold them accountable for the accident.
How could a passenger cause a car accident?
Passengers can cause motor vehicle accidents by distracting the driver. This doesn’t apply to everyday forms of distraction like talking or listening to music. However, a passenger could cause an accident if they were to scare the driver completely unexpectedly, physically assault them or start yelling at them, causing them to lose control of the vehicle.
A passenger could also cause an accident by trying to get out of a car while it’s moving, putting other drivers on the road at risk. They’re likely to cause an accident if they suddenly grab the wheel or try to take control of the vehicle away from the driver. Even spilling a hot drink on the driver might make the passenger liable for the accident.
If you get involved in a car accident, it might seem easy to assume that the driver is responsible. However, your car accident attorney could gather more information about the case and determine whether a passenger caused the incident.
How do you prove that a passenger was responsible?
To hold the passenger accountable, your attorney may have to prove that the passenger had a duty of care toward other people on the road. This means that they should have refrained from doing anything to cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. While a minor distraction probably won’t result in a lawsuit, your attorney might sue the passenger if they engaged in unreasonable behavior like hitting or yelling at the driver.