Have you ever gone for a drive with your friend who just picked up a sweet new ride? We’ve all experienced that situation, and it can be a real thrill. Unfortunately, it can also lead to tragic circumstances, as explained by the California Court of Appeal in the recent case of Navarette v. Meyer.
That case involved three friends who went out for a joyride in a residential neighborhood. Brandon Coleman was driving the car, and Hayley Meyer was in the passenger seat. As Coleman turned onto a side street, Meyer told him to step on it. Coleman complied, and the car accelerated to over 70 MPH in a 25 zone. The car lost traction, became airborne, and slammed into a parked car, killing a young father named Esteban Soto.
Soto’s wife and children sued Coleman and Meyer. Liability for Coleman, the driver, was virtually certain. But what about for Meyer, the passenger who encouraged Coleman to drive in an unsafe manner?
During the litigation, Meyer admitted that she knew that that particular street had dips that could cause the car to become airborne, and that it was her idea for Coleman to drive faster. The Court focused on these key facts to determine whether Meyer could be partially liable for Esteban Soto’s death. The Court concluded that it was a question of fact for a jury to decide this issue, and the Court suggested that the jury would probably find Meyer liable.
What’s the takeaway? Encouraging your friend to drive faster can make YOU liable for any damage or injuries in the event of an accident. It would be up to a jury to decide each case based on its own unique set of facts.
The next time your friend pulls up to take you for a spin in his new wheels, please think twice before encouraging him to gun it.
Stay safe, and for questions about your Los Angeles car accident case, the Rabbi Lawyer is one phone call away.