Distracted Driving is a Real Problem. Who is At-fault?

Distracted driving is a widespread and commonly overlooked hazard that has resulted in thousands of injuries, car accidents, and in some cases, even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, a whopping 391,000 people were injured in car accidents that involved a distracted driver. Younger drivers are some of the biggest offenders of behind-the-wheel extracurriculars. In 2015, 42% of high school students admitted that they text or email while driving.ย 

Passenger-distracted-driving

Those are pretty shocking statistics. Even laser focused drivers need to be hyper aware of the dangers that surround them. Just because you donโ€™t personally text and drive, doesnโ€™t mean that others on the road are being as vigilant.ย ย 

If a driver is distracted by a passenger, and the passenger is interfering with the driverโ€™sย  ability to operate the vehicle, then both the driver and passenger may be held accountable for any injuries or damages associated with an auto accident.ย ย 

The blind assumption that the driver of a vehicle is automatically at fault when a car accident occurs isnโ€™t always the correct presumption either. There are rare moments when a passenger is responsible for a wreck, even though the driver may be the person at the helm.ย 

Before you speak to the insurance company, or make any official statements, you should contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney. To get the very best rental car accident defense in California, JUST CALL JACOB: 1.888.952.2952

Distracted Drivers Are a Real Hazard On The Roadย 

We have already established that cell phones are an all too common distraction for drivers as well. Whether texting, checking your GPS, scrolling through Instagram, or talking on the phone, cell phones should be safely tucked away or in hands-free mode while on the road.ย ย 

Merely having a conversation while driving isnโ€™t the crux of the issue. But what if that conversation was emotionally charged or even physical? Arguing while driving could prove to be dangerous, especially while hurdling down the Freeway. If a passenger is engaging with a driver in a verbally aggressive, or even physical manner, this could result in the passenger being held legally responsible for any injuries or wreckage.ย ย 

When is the Passenger Liable for an Accident?

Even if the motives arenโ€™t malicious, passengers who draw the driverโ€™s attention away from the road are responsible for about 7% of distracted driving accidents, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). There are a variety of ways that a passenger can distract a driver, no matter how innocent.ย 

  • Taking pictures of the person operating the vehicleย 
  • Trying to show the driver videos or media while drivingย 
  • Blocking the driverโ€™s line of sight
  • Hitting the driver
  • Grabbing the wheel while in motionย ย 
  • Speaking aggressively at the driverย 
  • Asking the driver to focus their attention to the backseatย 

A passenger is jointly responsible for causing an accident if they are interfering with the safe operation of the automobile, thus they could be on the hook for any damages.ย 

If The Passenger Was the Cause, is the Driver Still Liable?

In theory, the driver is solely responsible for maintaining focus and safely operating the vehicle. They are the ones technically in charge. Drivers are tasked with ignoring distractions to the best of their ability, and always staying in control of the automobile. In cases where a passenger grabs the steering wheel by way of force, and takes temporary control of the vehicle, then it could be argued that the driver was not at-fault for the events that follow.ย 

Every incident is different. Any honorable judge or jury will take extenuating circumstances into consideration before deciding on who is responsible. Depending on your case, a professional car accident attorney will be able to better explain the possible outcomes.ย 

Before you speak to the insurance company, or make any official statements, you should contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney. To get the very best rental car accident defense in California, JUST CALL JACOB: 1.888.952.2952