Unfortunately, distracted driving is a widespread and commonly overlooked hazard that has caused thousands of car accidents, injuries, and in certain situations, even fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2015 alone, an astounding 391,000 people were injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver. Some of the most common offenders of practicing distracted driving are younger drivers. 42% of high school students in 2015 admitted that they email, text, or otherwise swipe on their phones while driving.
These statistics may be very shocking. Even drivers who are laser-focused should be extremely aware of the dangers that plague them on the road. Just because you personally don’t text and drive, it doesn’t mean that you can expect everybody else on the road to be as responsible as you are. So what happens if you get into a car accident due to the other party’s distracted driving?
Who Is At Fault For Distracted Driving Accidents?
If a passenger distracts the driver, and the passenger is disrupting the driver’s ability to drive the vehicle, then both the driver and passenger may be held liable for any damages or injuries associated with an auto accident. Many people assume that when an accident occurs, the driver of the vehicle is automatically at fault. This is not necessarily true- there are situations when a passenger may be responsible for a wreck, even if the driver is the person responsible for operating the vehicle.
Distracted Drivers Are Dangerous
We’ve discussed above that cell phones are such a common distraction for drivers on the road. No matter if you want to check a text, scroll through Instagram, answer a call, or respond to an email, wait until you get off the road- cell phones need to be safely put away or in handsfree mode at all times. Simply having a conversation while driving usually won’t cause a distracted driving accident. However, what if the conversation turns into a heated argument, or becomes emotional? Having an emotionally charged conversation while driving can be extremely dangerous, particularly when driving fast down the freeway. If a passenger is engaging with a driver in a physical manner, or even being verbally aggressive, the passenger may be held legally liable for any wreckage or injuries.
Is The Driver Still Liable If The Passenger Caused The Accident?
The driver is solely responsible for staying focused and operating the vehicle safely. The driver is the one technically in charge, and is supposed to ignore distractions to the best of their ability to stay in control of the automobile at all times. However, in situations where a passenger grabs the steering wheel by force and takes temporary control of the vehicle, there is a case that the driver may not be at-fault for the events that happen.
Contact Us Today
Every driving accident is different. Any honorable judge or jury should consider the full range of extenuating circumstances into consideration when establishing who is responsible. If you or somebody close to you was involved in a car accident where the other driver was distracted, you should consult with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your legal options. Call Mantia Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation today.