Can a Passenger Cause a Texas Car Accident?
In most cases, the driver of a vehicle bears full responsibility for operating the vehicle safely and upholding their duty of care to other people on the road, and in the event of an accident, a negligent driver is often liable for any resulting injuries. However, sometimes a driver is influenced by the behavior of a passenger to the extent that there is a question of whether the passenger may be partially or even fully liable. In San Antonio, a recent accident, in which a fighting driver and passenger collided with a police car, illustrates the possible complexities of driver and passenger contributions to a crash. If you have been injured in a car wreck and you believe a passenger may have contributed, it can affect your options for recovering compensation.
Passengers and Distracted Driving
According to a 2018 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passengers are a significant source of distracted driving, which may result in the driver causing an accident. Passenger distractions could be as simple as a conversation that removes the driver’s focus from the road, or the behavior of children in the back seat that requires the driver’s attention.
However, some forms of passenger distraction or influence on the driver can be especially harmful. For example, a passenger could attempt to grab the steering wheel or interfere with other vehicle controls, physically attack or threaten the driver, or encourage or pressure the driver into risky behavior.
In determining whether a passenger may be liable for an accident, it will likely be important to settle certain questions such as:
- Did the passenger intend to distract the driver or disrupt the task of driving?
- Can a specific action of the passenger be identified as the cause of the crash?
- Could the driver have reasonably prevented or ignored the passenger’s behavior?
If you have been injured, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you seek evidence and witness testimony that provides insight into the answers to these questions.
Proportionate Responsibility in a Texas Car Crash
If a passenger is liable for an accident, it is also important to determine their responsibility compared to the driver, and potentially the driver of another vehicle. Under Texas’s proportionate liability statute, more than one party can share liability for injury damages, in some cases including the injury victim. The statute also bars a person from recovering damages if they were more than 50 percent responsible for their injuries.
As such, an injured third party could potentially pursue compensation from both a negligent driver and passenger. In a single-car accident in which a passenger contributed, it may be important to determine whether the passenger or driver bears a greater portion of responsibility to determine who is eligible for compensation.
Contact a New Braunfels, TX Car Accident Lawyer
Questions of passenger liability can greatly complicate a personal injury claim, but an experienced New Braunfels personal injury lawyer can help you resolve them. At The Bettersworth Law Firm, we will work with you to fully investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine the best path to the most possible compensation. Contact us today at 830-606-0404.