Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. With this privileged
comes responsibility. One must obey the rules of the road and see what
there is to be seen. In legal circles, attorneys call this a duty to operate
a vehicle with reasonable care as would any other prudent driver under
the circumstances. But did you know that other individuals besides a driver
can be the cause of a
Poughkeepsie car accident?
Every driver can recall a time when a passenger was a distraction. In New
York, if a passenger distracts a driver and an accident results, the passenger
can be liable for all resulting injuries and damages so long as all the
essential elements of a negligence claim are present.
A proper suit founded in negligence must plead and prove several elements.
First there must have been a duty owed by the offending party that was
due to the plaintiff. Second, the duty must have been breached. The breach
must have been the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Lastly, the plaintiff must have suffered damages. Damages can be either
compensatory or punitive and they are a monetary figure representation
of the plaintiff’s loss.
New York courts have consistently found distracting or dangerous passengers
to create their own liability. For instance, in
Collins v. McGinely the defendant was sued by a passenger in his car. The plaintiff’s
injuries were alleged to have been caused by the driver’s failure
to stop at an intersection. Evidence was introduced at trial indicating
that the plaintiff-passenger distracted the defendant-driver at the time
of the accident. The jury gave this evidence full consideration and held
both the driver and the passenger liable, apportioning liability accordingly.
Good v. MacDonell, a passenger took control of the vehicle by pulling on the steering wheel.
This act caused the vehicle to run into pedestrians. The driver and the
pedestrians were injured in the collision. The court issued a strong decision
in this passenger negligence case, holding that the passenger took control
of the vehicle when grabbing the wheel and was therefore the
sole and proximate cause of the injured party’s injuries. As such, the
passenger was the only liable person involved in the crash.
Are you interested in learning who else may be liable for your car accident?
Find out more from
our latest article posted here. Or learn about the
permissive use doctrine and how it applies here. Also read our blog post regarding employer liability
for when anemployee causes a car accident here.
Our car accident attorneys at
Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of personal
injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious personal injury accidents,
particularly throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston, Poughkeepsie,
and Newburgh where we have offices. Hear
what our clients are saying about us here and learn about just some of our
successful results here. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident,
please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or
toll free at 866-440-4452, or by using the
convenient contact form here.