Typically, when two cars are involved in an accident, one of the drivers is responsible. Sometimes both of them are. Passengers who are injured may be interested in compensation, even if they were riding with the driver who caused the crash.

But what if the roles are reversed? Is it possible for the passenger to be the one who is at fault in the wreck, rather than either of the drivers?

Grabbing the Wheel

Situations like this are uncommon. Even passengers who are distracting are not typically liable. If the passenger asks the driver a question, for instance, and the driver turns around to answer and crashes because he or she is not watching the road, the passenger is still not at fault. The driver didn't have to answer the question or turn around.

However, one situation in which the passenger could be at fault is if he or she actively interferes with the driver's ability to control the car. For example, a passenger and a driver started arguing earlier this year, and the passegner reached over and grabbed the steering wheel. The car careened out of control and flipped over, killing the driver and a child who was riding in the vehicle.

In that case, the passenger was arrested and given manslaughter chargers. She was also seriously hurt, and there may have been other factors in play -- like whether or not the driver was speeding -- which police attempted to sort out. Regardless, she was given charges for her role because the crash wouldn't have happened if she hadn't grabbed the wheel.

Seeking Compensation

Again, this is something that is very rare in car accidents, but this example is important because you must know all of your legal options. Never assume that a driver has to be at fault or that you have no ability to seek compensation. If someone else caused the wreck, even when he or she was not supposed to be in control of the vehicle, you may be able to get financial compensation for your injuries. When people are killed in these accidents, family members may also be able to get significant compensation.

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