Driving a car entails much responsibility. Motorists must protect their passengers. When there is an accident, passengers may sue drivers for damages. Can anything be done? At first impression, it may seem not much. After all, everyone knows that the passenger was not behind the wheel. Like a captain, the driver has to go down with the ship, right? Wait! Not so fast!
Here are some things that may reduce or negate damages awarded to passengers in accident claims:
- Failing to Wear a Seat Belt
The first thing that a car accident attorney will ask a driver is whether everyone in the car was wearing seat belts. In many jurisdictions, there are seat belt laws. Regardless of the legality, not donning this protective gear can amount to negligence on the part of the passenger. This is one reason why it is wise for drivers to request all passengers put on seat belts before departure. Doing so establishes the fact that the passenger bears a responsibility for his or her own protection.
- Distracting the Driver
Passengers can distract motorists. It is easy for them to forget that the driver has other responsibilities besides talking. Conversations can get deep and involved, resulting in that small fraction of a second needed to cause an accident. If they had any involvement in diverting the attention of the driver from the road, a passenger can be held accountable for their own injuries.
- Engaging in Reckless Behavior
Most actions that passengers engage in that contribute to an accident occur without malice. This means they do the deed rather innocently. However, there are times when someone in a car becomes reckless. These actions are dangerous and can result in serious charges against the passenger.
For example, attempting to take the steering wheel from the driver's hands is something that can lead to loss of life. Turning off the night-lights is another reckless behavior that may warrant disciplinary measures from the courts.
Any passenger who requests damages caused by their own dangerous actions could find it difficult to collect.
- Failing to See a Doctor Immediately After the Crash
Injuries sustained in a crash usually require a doctor visit as soon as possible. The courts need to ascertain whether the accident was the immediate cause of the injuries. Passengers who wait too long to seek medical attention can have their claims dismissed or reduced when the authorities believe that the cause is in question.
Get Help From a Car Accident Attorney
When a passenger files a lawsuit, the driver can feel betrayed, especially when the person was a friend. The best thing to do is speak with an attorney for legal consultation to decide if the passenger played a role in their own injuries. For more help, contact a company like Marquard & Associates with any questions you have.