Passengers in a motor vehicle are at the mercy of the driver operating the car to protect their safety. Passengers need to be able to count on not only other motorists, but also the driver of the vehicle they are in, to drive in accordance with the law and to exercise reasonable care. When a collision occurs, a car accident lawyer can provide assistance to passengers in pursuing legal action against whichever motorist was responsible for the accident. Passengers injured in car accidents typically may pursue compensation from the driver of the vehicle they were riding in, provided they can prove the driver's lapse in following safety rules was a cause of harm.
Risks to Passengers in Motor Vehicle Accidents
The death of John Nash, a Nobel Prize winning mathematician, has drawn attention to the issue of passenger safety in motor vehicles. ABC News reports Nash and his wife were in a taxi when the vehicle's driver lost control. Neither Nash nor his wife were wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.
Studies have shown many passengers do not wear seat belts when riding in the back of vehicles, especially taxi cabs. One 2014 survey found 62 percent of taxi passengers do not wear seat belts. Almost half the states in the U.S. do not require seat belts for adult passengers who are in the back of cars, which creates a glaring exception to standard laws requiring belts for all front passengers. Many passengers assume the back seat is safer and do not feel the need to use a seat belt as a result.
In addition, many celebrities using car services have died when not wearing seat belts in the back of limousines or town cars. Princess Diana and her boyfriend did not have seat belts on in the 1997 motor vehicle accident resulting in their death, and a CBS correspondent Bob Simon was killed this year when a town car he was riding in became involved in a crash and he had no seat belt on. The New York Times cautions that passengers frequently assume nothing will happen when being driven by a professional driver (in a taxi or chauffeured car), even though accidents can still happen even when passengers are paying for a transportation service.
Unbuckled passengers can be thrown around the vehicle when an accident happens. In a taxi, facial injuries among unbuckled passengers are especially common because of the partition separating the passengers from the driver. Emergency room doctors call the injuries "partition face" because they are so customary after a collision in a taxi.
Transportation services including taxis and chauffeured cars need to provide working seat belts in vehicles for passengers. If no seat belts are provided, the car service can become responsible for resulting damages.
When passengers decline to use provided seat belts, this is not generally a defense to liability. If a driver is involved in an accident due to his negligence or carelessness and a passenger gets hurt, the driver should still be obliged to pay for losses the victim can prove occurred as a result of the accident.