Were you recently involved in a car accident in Houston, TX? Did the accident occur because of something your passenger did? If so, contact Attorney Brian White & Associates for immediate legal assistance. Our Houston car accident lawyers will fight to prove that your passenger was negligent and that they are at least partly responsible for the collision. This can be critical if you’re sued by other parties or if you’ve suffered any injuries because of the crash.
Give our Houston law firm a call to arrange a free initial case evaluation to learn more. It’s important to get started quickly, so connect with us today.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer If My Passenger Was Negligent?
Just because you were driving a car at the time of an accident doesn’t necessarily mean that you are (totally or partly) responsible. Car accidents are complex and can happen for a lot of different reasons. When one of those reasons involves your passenger’s conduct, injury claims can become complicated.
You and the passenger probably know one another. This fact, on its own, can create a very uncomfortable situation. It’s hard to point fingers and cast blame. However, sometimes it’s necessary, especially when you’re being sued or have suffered injuries in a collision.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take on an injury claim on your own. By hiring an attorney, you can take a step back, focus on getting better, and know that your case is in good hands. At Brian White & Associates, our Houston personal injury attorneys understand the unique challenges of a case involving passenger negligence.
So, we’ll do our best to navigate the situation delicately and with as much tact as possible. At the same time, we will work diligently to make sure that your rights are protected and that we are able to secure the best possible outcome for you.
As we handle your car accident injury claim, we will:
- Handle all communication with your passenger, insurance companies, and other parties
- Investigate the circumstances of the crash
- Defend you when third parties attempt to hold you personally and financially responsible for the crash simply because you were the driver
- Gather and analyze evidence that helps to establish how your passenger was negligent, and
- Work with experts as we determine exactly what your injuries and case are worth.
Our attorneys have more than 45 years of experience representing crash victims in Houston, Texas. We’re not afraid to invest the time, manpower, and financial resources that are necessary to get the job done. Give us a call today to learn more about how we might be able to help you secure the settlement or award you deserve.
How To Establish Negligence in Your Car Accident Case
Negligence, in very simple terms, means that someone has a responsibility to behave in a certain way, but doesn’t. A person can be held financially accountable for their negligence when it causes someone else to get hurt.
When you’re driving in Texas, you assume a responsibility to yourself and others on the road. You have a duty to follow the law and drive with caution. When you speed, operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or text behind the wheel, you fail to fulfill this responsibility. That’s why should you cause an accident while doing any of these things, you could be sued by the people who get hurt.
In a negligence case, four things have to be established:
- Duty: The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- Breach: The defendant must have breached this duty of care in some way.
- Causation: The defendant’s conduct has caused the plaintiff to get hurt.
- Injury: The plaintiff must have suffered some type of injury.
When each of these elements can be established, the defendant (person being accused of negligence) can be on the hook for the damages they’ve caused the plaintiff (injury victim) to suffer.
Can Vehicle Passengers Be Responsible for A Car Accident?
Just because someone isn’t behind the wheel doesn’t mean that they don’t have a duty to behave responsibly. In fact, when we’re out in the world, we all assume a general duty of care to act reasonably and in a way that doesn’t put at others in harm’s way.
So, when someone is sitting in the passenger’s seat or in the back of a vehicle, they have to behave in a way that doesn’t create a dangerous situation. If a passenger breaches this duty of care in some way, they could potentially be financially accountable for any harm they cause.
Examples of Passenger Negligence
What does passenger negligence look like? Some common examples of conduct that might be considered negligent include:
- Grabbing the steering wheel
- Asking the driver to look at a map, cell phone, or another object while the vehicle is in motion
- Forcing something into the driver’s eye-line while the car is motion
- Putting their hands over the driver’s eyes
- Making loud, startling, or disruptive noises in the car
- Throwing things in the car or out of the vehicle’s window
- Opening the car door or getting out of the vehicle in traffic
- Encouraging a driver to operate a vehicle under the influence, or
- Engaging in conversation with the driver.
Keep in mind that some of these behaviors might not always be considered negligent. The conduct would have to be unreasonable, under the given circumstances. To determine if the conduct was negligent, ask yourself the following question. Would a reasonable person under similar circumstances have acted differently? If the answer is “yes,” the conduct might rise to the level of negligence. In that case, the passenger could potentially be financially liable for an accident and resulting injuries.
What If More Than One Person Contributed to My Accident?
In Texas, more than one person can share responsibility for the consequences of an accident. Under the state’s modified comparative negligence rules, fault can be assigned to anyone who plays a role. This includes negligent passengers.
The bigger someone’s role in an accident, the more fault (and financial responsibility for damages) they’ll assume. For example, if you’re allocated 25 percent of the blame for an accident, you’ll find that:
- Your damages are reduced by 25 percent, AND
- You are financially responsible for 25 percent of damages sustained by other victims in the crash.
So, after an accident, it’s common for everyone involved to (a) deny responsibility and (b) point fingers. By shifting blame to others, a person can increase the amount of money they’re able to secure and minimize how much they have to pay others.
It is incredibly important to make sure that the crash is investigated thoroughly so that responsibility is allocated appropriately. This is particularly true when a passenger’s negligence contributes to or causes a car crash.
As the driver, you’ll probably be singled out and blamed for the crash. While you might know that your passenger is really to blame, you’ll have the burden of proving this. If you are successful in proving this, you can sidestep financial liability to others and potentially hold the passenger accountable for the costs of your injuries, too.
Let’s say Jim is driving down the road. His buddy Jack is in the passenger’s seat. All of a sudden, Jack shoves a newspaper into Jim’s face and blocks his view of the road. Jim struggles to see, but can’t. Since he can’t see the road, Jim doesn’t know that a pedestrian is crossing the road. When he strikes the pedestrian he swerves and hits a fire hydrant. The pedestrian is catastrophically injured and Jim is pretty banged up, too.
The pedestrian files a lawsuit against Jim, accusing him of negligently operating the motor vehicle in Manhattan. Jim, however, knows that the accident happened because of what Jack did. Fortunately, his lawyers are able to get security camera footage from a store near the scene of the collision that showed that Jim’s view was obstructed by the paper. Jim uses this to shift responsibility for the crash to Jack. Now Jack will be faced with injury claims from Jim and the injured pedestrian.
Injured Because of Passenger Negligence? Our Accident Lawyers Can Help
Were you recently involved in a car accident in Houston? Did a passenger’s negligence contribute to the crash? Contact Brian White & Associates for assistance protecting yourself and fighting to get the money you deserve.
You’ll only have a limited time to file an injury claim or lawsuit. If you miss the statute of limitations that applies to your case, you could miss out on valuable compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, suffering, and more. So, it’s important to assert your rights as soon as you can after a collision.
Contact our Houston law office to schedule a free consultation with our accomplished legal team today. We’ll carefully review your case, help you understand your rights, and answer any questions you might have.