Passengers Liability for Causing an Accident

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In most accidents, there is some form of liability that will be changed to one or more of those involved.  Accident and insurance liability have existed throughout history, providing some way for people to guarantee to help each other through difficulties or disasters.  In recent years, in part due to the high cost of medical care and auto repair, the evolution of accident liability has resulted in nearly every state in the U.S. requiring drivers to have liability insurance.  However, there can be limits to that liability insurance and to what an insurer will be required to pay if an accident occurs.

Liability of Passengers

In most states, a guest passenger has the right to sue the person held liable for the accident for any costs due to the accident.  However, a few states have guest passenger statutes.  These generally do not apply to passengers who are paying for their ride, such as bus and taxi riders.  In those states, it is against the law for a guest passenger to sue a driver for compensation unless the driver exhibited intentional recklessness or misconduct.

In rare cases, the driver of a car who is found at fault for an accident may sue the passenger for vicarious liability.  There are only a few circumstances in which this claim would apply:

  • If the passenger negligently caused the driver’s accident by offering the driver alcohol or drugs prior to the collision
  • If an owner allowed someone to drive their car who is known to be irresponsible and reckless
  • If the driver followed a passenger’s advice about an action that resulted in the accident, such as reporting that an area was clear when it actually was not

Getting Compensation and Lawyer Help

The evolution of accident liability has made it difficult to solve accident claims without some type of accident release liability.  In most state, passengers may file claims against a driver for injuries in an accident, but if the driver is a friend or relative, they can often settle the claim between themselves.  However, it can be wise to obtain an accident release liability in addition to a verbal claim, prohibiting the victim from filing a claim later, when the evidence is less clear.  It can be wise to consult a car accident attorney before making any agreement final, to protect your interests in both the short and long term.