Determining Liability when a Third Party Causes a Car Accident

Evaluating who is at fault for a motor vehicle collision is almost always a driver vs. driver argument. In most cases, determining the level of negligence contributed by each driver is the correct approach: Drivers are ultimately responsible for their actions that cause a car accident. However, in some cases, liability for a car accident can be attributed to a person who was not operating an involved vehicle: Passengers, vehicle manufacturers, and other third parties can be partially at fault if their actions were a factor in the cause of an accident.

Passenger Liability

A passenger can contribute to a car accident if they somehow cause a driver to drive recklessly or encourage the actions that caused the collision. Distracting the driver is a common reason why a passenger can be liable for an accident. A passenger may also be liable for an accident if they contribute to intoxication, either by supplying alcohol and drugs or by allowing an inebriated person to drive.

Accidents Caused by Defective Car Parts

Sometimes, car accidents occur because the vehicle has defective brakes, steering, lights, or other controls. In these cases, the vehicle manufacturer, parts manufacturer, a retailer, or mechanic can be liable for the collision.

Case Study

A car accident that occurred in Chico, CA in late June of 2019 presents a unique case of third-party liability. According to The Mercury News, a witness reported that a driver was killed in a car accident when she was waved in front of a truck by another driver. The other driver gave the victim the signal to go while they were both stopped, but a truck was driving in the other direction and crashed into the victim.

The liability for this collision could be questionable: Does the driver who waved on the victim share some responsibility for the events? That driver could be at least partially at fault, because if they had not waved the victim through (perceivably without looking for oncoming traffic first) the accident may not have happened. However, the victim and the truck driver had their own responsibility to stay aware on the road. The legalities of the third-party driver’s liability may be questionable, but this case certainly exhibits the different ways a third party can contribute to a car accident.

Evaluating liability can be complicated, especially if a third party is involved. For a free analysis of your case, contact B&D Law Group.

Free consultations with our attorneys are available via phone at (888) 977-2238, or you can use our form to schedule a future consultation or speak via email.