Unfortunately, these are questions that are often not asked until it is too late. Baltimore personal injury lawyers have successfully argued that a non-driving owner is responsible for the conduct of a non-owner driver in causing where that owner is present in the car.
Maryland law provides that if the owner asks another to drive, while still in the car, the owner has the obligation and duty to make sure the vehicle is operated safely.
If the person driving is negligent, it is assumed the owner agreed to the conduct, and is responsible for it. Powers v. State, 11 A.2d 909 . Of course, a question arises about the extent of the owner's obligations. Certainly, if time permits, they must insist the driver cease engaging in dangerous conduct. Is there an obligation to use physical force to stop dangerous actions? What if the application of physical force actually makes the situation more dangerous? But what about a non-owner passenger under those same circumstances? Do they have to stop the driver from driving negligently? Do they have to stop that driver from causing a car accident? Are they contributorily negligent if they do not? A non-owner passenger is not necessarily negligent for riding with an intoxicated driver, or failing to complain of excessive speed, but they might be. It depends on the unique facts and circumstances of each case.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 5/22/19.
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