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Who Pays if Your Passenger Causes a Car Crash?

Who Pays if Your Passenger Causes a Car Crash?
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

What happens when a passenger in a vehicle causes a car crash? Are they liable for the resulting damages? Does the driver’s insurance still cover the damages?

The laws of negligence determine who is liable for a collision, which could mean the responsible party is the passenger in a vehicle.

In this article, we will discuss when a passenger is liable for a car wreck and who pays, including:

  • When a passenger is liable for damages after a car wreck,
  • How to prove the passenger caused the crash, and
  • When the driver’s insurance policy pays for damages caused by the passenger.

Who is Liable if Your Passenger Causes a Car Crash?

The rules of negligence determine who is liable for an auto accident in SC. The responsible party could be anyone, including the driver of your vehicle, the driver of another vehicle, a passenger, a business, homeowner, or municipality that created a road hazard, or a manufacturer of a defective auto part.

There may be more than one at-fault party, each of whom is liable for the damage and injuries caused.

The passenger could be the negligent party who caused the crash, or they could be one of several negligent parties who contributed to the crash…

How Do You Prove a Passenger Caused the Accident?

How do you prove that a passenger, whether it was your passenger or the passenger in another vehicle, caused the crash?

Using witness testimony, video or audio evidence, expert testimony from an accident reconstructionist, or any other admissible evidence, you must prove the three elements of negligence:

  1. The passenger owed a duty of care to the people who were injured – for example, a passenger in a vehicle owes a duty of care to other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists to not cause their driver to crash,
  2. The passenger breached their duty of care – for example, by grabbing the steering wheel as a joke, and
  3. The plaintiff’s damages were proximately caused by the passenger’s actions – for example, but for the passenger’s grabbing of the steering wheel, the driver would not have crashed head-on into the other car.

How Can a Passenger Be Liable for a Car Crash?

The person behind the wheel is in charge of driving and safety, right? How could the passenger be liable for a car wreck?

There are many scenarios where a passenger, intentionally or unintentionally, can cause a car crash, including:

  • Grabbing the wheel – the passenger might be angry and out of control, or they might be trying to have some fun with the driver by grabbing the wheel, but they are liable if they grab the wheel and the vehicle loses control or ends up in a head-on collision,
  • Punching or attacking the driver – whether they are angry and losing control or joking around, physical contact with the driver can cause a crash and serious injuries,
  • Any physical contact with the driver – interfering with the gas pedal, covering the driver’s eyes, spilling hot food or drink on the driver, or any physical contact with the driver may be negligence that results in a car wreck,
  • “Egging on” the driver – encouraging a driver to speed or to drive recklessly can also result in crashes,
  • Shouting or yelling at the driver – whether the passenger is angry and arguing with the driver about something or intentionally trying to startle the driver, if you are distracting the driver from the road, you are at least partially responsible for the crash that results,
  • Road rage – when a passenger is yelling out of the car window, attempts to open a car door while the vehicle is moving, or engages with the driver or passenger of another vehicle it can cause a crash, or
  • Getting out of the vehicle at an intersection or while the vehicle is still moving can cause an accident.

Will the Driver’s Insurance Pay if the Passenger Causes the Car Crash?

In most cases, the driver’s insurance will cover the accident victim’s damages, even when the crash was partially caused by the passenger in the vehicle.

This is a question that must be answered on a case-by-case basis, however, and you should immediately consult with your Myrtle Beach car crash attorneys so they can begin their investigation and determine 1) who was at fault and 2) all possible sources of recovery.

There may be situations where you need to collect from multiple sources and multiple insurance policies to cover the full amount of your damages. This could include:

  • The driver’s insurance policies,
  • The passenger’s insurance policies,
  • Other drivers’ or passengers’ insurance policies,
  • Business owners’ or property owners’ insurance policies,
  • Municipalities,
  • Business assets or personal assets of defendants, or
  • Your own insurance policies.

Depending on the sources of recovery that are available and the circumstances of the crash, you may be able to “stack” multiple insurance policies to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.

Got Axelrod?

If you have been injured in an auto accident in South Carolina, your Myrtle Beach car crash attorneys at Axelrod and Associates will investigate your crash, help you determine who is liable, and identify all possible sources of recovery.

Schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team today. Call us at 843-353-3449 or fill out our contact form to set up a free initial consultation about your case.

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