Car Accidents and Passenger Negligence

Stephen R. Hasner
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
May 10, 2024
Car Accidents and Passenger Negligence

Drivers aren’t the only ones who can be responsible for a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a crash in Atlanta because a passenger was negligent, Hasner Law PC can help you fight to hold that person financially accountable. Contact us a call today to schedule a free initial case evaluation with our Atlanta car accident lawyers to learn more.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help If You’ve Been Injured Due to Passenger Negligence in Atlanta

An unexpected car accident in Atlanta can have significant short-term and devastating long-term consequences. Medical costs can add up quickly. Those costs can be exacerbated by a sudden loss of income due to disability. The emotional trauma of a collision can affect you for years to come. If someone else is responsible for your accident, they must be held accountable for these (and other) consequences. That’s true, even if that person wasn’t driving the car at the time of the crash.

If a passenger is negligent or if their reckless actions contribute to a crash, they might be just as responsible as whoever was behind the wheel. However, cases involving passenger negligence can be difficult for many reasons. The parties involved typically know one another. Asking for compensation from or filing a lawsuit against someone you know can be particularly challenging. It certainly complicates things.

By hiring an attorney, you can get the help of someone who has extensive experience handling complex personal injury cases just like yours. At Hasner Law PC, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys will handle all negotiations and communications with the other parties in your case. You won’t have to worry about uncomfortable conversations. We’ll stand by your side every step of the way and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Negligence is a Leading Cause of Car Accidents in Atlanta

Negligence is a Leading Cause of Car Accidents in Atlanta

For the most part, motor vehicle accidents are a consequence of negligence. Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise a reasonable degree of care in a particular situation. 

Common examples include driving drunk, texting and driving, fatigued driving, or speeding. These are all behaviors when done by someone who is operating a motor vehicle, creates a dangerous situation. 

When you get hurt in a car accident and believe that someone else was negligent, you’ll have to prove that if you want to recover compensation. Here’s what you’ll have to prove:

  • Duty: The person you’re suing (the defendant) must have owed you (the plaintiff) a duty of care.
  • Breach: The defendant must have breached that duty in some way.
  • Injury: You’ve suffered some kind of harm (physical, emotional, financial).
  • Causation: This harm is a consequence of the defendant’s actions.

So, let’s take a look at the distracted driver, for example. If you were injured because of a distracted driver, you’d argue that they owed you a duty of care, breached it by not paying attention while driving, and, in turn, you’ve been injured.

However, it’s not just drivers who can be considered negligent and, in turn, financially responsible for an accident. Passengers can, too.

Can A Passenger Be At Fault For A Car Accident?

So, we’ve established that in order for someone to be negligent they must owe a duty of care to someone else. When you’re driving a car, you assume a responsibility to do so with care. You assume a duty of care to your passengers and other people on the road

Passengers also assume a duty of care. When you’re sitting in a car, you have a responsibility to not engage in behavior that puts the driver or others at risk. So, when a passenger’s conduct is questionable or dangerous, it might be considered negligent. 

Passenger negligence can take many different shapes and forms. Some examples of passenger negligence might include:

  • Pushing a cell phone, map, or magazine in front of a driver, blocking their view of the road
  • Putting their hands over the driver’s eyes and preventing them from seeing
  • Taking hold of the steering wheel and maneuvering
  • Distracting or annoying the driver
  • Yelling or making loud noises that startle the driver
  • Throwing objects out of the car window, or
  • Encouraging someone to get behind the wheel while they’re under the influence.

Even simply carrying on a conversation with the driver could be considered negligence if it distracts the driver and prevents them from driving safely. However, keep in mind that negligence is determined on a case-by-case basis. The facts and circumstances matter.

If you believe that you’ve been injured because a passenger in your car or another vehicle was negligent, you should consult with our experienced personal injury lawyers in Atlanta. Through a thorough investigation, our attorneys can determine the factors that contributed to your accident and, in turn, who might be responsible. 

Can A Passenger Contribute to A Car Accident?

Can A Passenger Contribute to A Car Accident?

When a passenger breaches a duty of care to others and causes harm, they can be held financially responsible for the consequences. That’s because Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state. So, following an accident, anyone who contributes to that crash or resulting injuries can be on the hook for damages. In other words, anyone who is negligent – including passengers – can share responsibility for the costs of a crash.

Does that mean that, following an accident, you could file a lawsuit against your passenger if you believe that their conduct contributed to the crash? Or, you could sidestep some or all liability for a crash if your passenger was negligent? Yes. If you could establish that your passenger’s conduct caused you to crash the car, you could potentially recover compensation or avoid liability.

For example, let’s say Steve and Jeff, roommates at Emory University, were driving down I-285. All of a sudden, Jeff grabs the steering wheel and begins to jerk it back and forth in a playful manner. Steve, who is driving, is not only unable to control the vehicle but becomes distracted. He fails to see that traffic has come to a screeching halt in front of them and slams into the back of the car in front of him.

The driver of the front vehicle files a lawsuit to recover compensation against Steve. Steve can, in turn, point to Jeff’s conduct and attempt to shift the blame for the accident to him. Additionally, Steve can file a claim of his own against Jeff to recoup compensation for the damage he sustained to his car in the crash.

Damages Available Following a Car Accident in Atlanta, GA

When a passenger is negligent and contributes to a car accident in Atlanta, they can potentially be on the hook for the resulting costs. This might include damages related to:

Valuing a personal injury case can be challenging. That’s why our attorneys aren’t afraid to bring in some outside assistance. We regularly consult with medical professionals, mental health experts, and vocational rehabilitation specialists as we navigate the cases we handle.

These experts can provide us with invaluable insight into the more complicated and technical aspects of a case. They can help us understand the severity and extent of injuries, as well as how those injuries affect our clients – today and in the future. By taking the time to really delve into the details we can be sure that we are fully prepared to leverage the best possible results. 

Common injuries in an auto accident may include:

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Negligent Passenger

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Negligent Passenger

Following a car accident in Georgia, you’ll have a short period of time in which you can file a claim for damages. To recover compensation from a negligent passenger, you’ll have up to two years from the date of your crash to act. You might have additional time if you didn’t discover your injury right away or if there are other extenuating factors. However, do not wait too long to assert your rights. You will lose out on valuable compensation if you don’t file your claim before the applicable statute of limitations expires.

Injured Because of a Negligent Passenger? Call our Atlanta Car Accident Law Firm

Have you recently been injured in a car accident in Atlanta? Do you believe that a passenger’s negligent behavior contributed to or caused the crash? Contact Hasner Law PC to discuss your legal rights and options. You could be entitled to compensation, and our accomplished Atlanta car accident attorneys can help you fight to get the money you deserve. 

We offer a free consultation, so don’t hesitate to call our law office or connect with us online. When you sit down with our team, we’ll carefully review your case and listen to your side of the story. We’ll explain what your legal options for recovery might be and help you figure out the best course of action. You have a limited amount of time to act, so call now.

Author Stephen Headshot
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
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Stephen Hasner is the founder and managing partner of Hasner Law PC. Since being licensed in Florida in 1997 and in Georgia in 1999, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help Georgia residents navigate the legal process following a serious injury. This includes injuries sustained at work, in motor vehicle accidents, and in cases of personal injury. The team at Hasner Law is dedicated to securing compensation for their clients who have been injured through no fault of their own.