Can you be sued for damages regarding a car accident if you were just a passenger?

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Can you be sued for damages regarding a car accident if you were just a passenger?

I was a passenger in a car that was involved in an at fault accident. I do not own or insure the car I was in. I gave my contact information and left it at that. Now a few months later I received a letter from an attorney representing the other driver stating I may owe damages since the car I was in may be uninsured. I have no idea if it is or isn’t. Can they legally make me to pay for the damages I as a passenger did not cause?

Asked on November 17, 2011 under Accident Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A non-owner passenger would NOT be liable for injuries or damages caused by the vehicle unless it can be shown that the passenger in some way caused or contributed to the accident: for example, that you grabbed the wheel, spilled hot coffee on the driver's lap, distracted the driver at the moment of accident, etc.

Liabilty arises from either 1) fault (causing the accident in some way) or 2) being responsible as an owner of the vehicle, an employer (e.g. the driver worked for you), or contractually (e.g. you'd agreed to indemnify the driver) for the costs or damages. Without fault  or one of those other grounds to impose reponsibility, you should not be liable.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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