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If a Passenger Distracts a Driver Verbally or Physically, Who is at Fault?

Unruly passengers can be held liable for car accidents, but these cases present unique challenges.

When an accident occurs between two vehicles, it is natural to assume that one of the drivers is at fault. In most cases, this is true. Drivers are typically responsible for ensuring they are driving in a safe manner, and that individuals in their vehicles are also acting responsibly. However, there are times when a passenger in a vehicle could be to blame.

It is often difficult to prove that a passenger in a vehicle caused a wreck. Anyone in this situation should speak to an Oklahoma car accident lawyer.

When Drivers are Considered Negligent

Even when passengers are causing certain distractions, drivers are typically held liable for paying damages if they are in an accident. This is because in most cases, drivers are expected to remain in control of their vehicles and drive responsibly to avoid an accident.

In the instance that passengers are acting unruly, being excessively loud, or otherwise preventing the driver from paying full attention to the road, drivers are expected to pull over. They then must wait until the distraction has stopped before they can resume driving again.

When Passengers are Considered Negligent

It is rare that passengers are held liable for an accident, but it does happen. If a passenger encourages a motorist to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or otherwise drive recklessly, the driver will still likely be held liable for his or her own behavior. However, due to the fact that the passenger influenced the driver to act in a certain manner, the passenger can also share some of the liability.

In instances in which a passenger has directly interfered with the motorist’s ability to drive, such as grabbing the wheel from the driver or pressing the gas or brake pedal, the passenger may be found completely to blame. This is because in these situations, there may have been nothing the driver could have done to prevent the passenger from acting in that manner.

Proving Negligence When Passengers are to Blame

Cases that involve passenger negligence are extremely difficult to prove. The passenger is likely to deny any wrongdoing because he or she does not want to be held liable for paying damages. If there were other passengers in the vehicle who can testify about the negligent behavior of another passenger, that is very helpful to a case. Unfortunately, often these passengers are friends or family members of both the negligent passenger and the driver and so, they often do not want to get involved.

If a driver can take video with their smartphone of the passenger’s negligent behavior, that is also helpful to a case. This is not always possible, though, as a phone is not always within a driver’s reach, or the passenger may stop the driver from taking a video. However, most drivers in Oklahoma are allowed to hold their phone while they drive, even though they are not allowed to text, so taking a video is not a violation of the law.

Were You the Victim of a Negligent Passenger? Call Our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyers

All car accident cases have the potential to become complex, but this is especially true of cases that involve negligent passengers. If you have been hurt by someone traveling in your car, call our Tulsa car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of BDIW Law. We know how to prove accident cases, so you can claim the full amount of compensation you deserve. Call us today at (918) 728-6500 to schedule your free consultation.

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