According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, almost 70,000 car accidents in the State of Florida resulted in a personal injury. Almost 42% of those injuries happened to passengers. Drivers in Florida have the responsibility for the safety of their passengers. They must operate the vehicle without negligence.
If you were a passenger of a vehicle involved in a car accident, you may be able to recover damages from the driver’s insurance company for your injuries.
Which Driver Can I File a Claim Against
As a passenger, you can not be at-fault for a car accident. However, if you have been injured in an accident, you have some options regarding filing a claim for compensation for your damages.
The Driver of Your Vehicle
You can file a claim against the insurance company of the driver of your vehicle, even if they did not cause the accident. Additionally, if the driver did not own the car, you can file a claim against the insurance of the owner of the vehicle you were in during the car accident. Remember that if you are a friend or a family member of the driver, you are receiving the money from their insurance company, not them personally.
Any Other Driver Involved
You can file a claim against the drivers, or the insurance companies of the drivers of any other vehicle that was involved in the car accident.
Your Own Insurance Company
If you owned the vehicle but were not driving, you can file a PIP (Personal Injury Protection) claim. But you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.
Florida requires all drivers to have PIP coverage, which pays 80 percent of all medical bills and also 60 percent of lost wages. Typically, the PIP insurance will cover your damages. But if it doesn’t, then you may have to file against both the driver of your vehicle and the driver of another vehicle. The amount of compensation you can get for your personal injury will relate to how much PIP insurance coverage they have.
The minimum insurance coverage for Florida drivers is as follows:
- $10,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $20,000 for bodily injury to more than one person
- $10,000 property damage liability
The PIP coverage is first to pay on an insurance claim. Therefore, it is important to check initially with the driver’s insurance company regarding the amount of PIP coverage they have.
What If Drivers Have No Insurance Coverage?
While drivers in Florida are required by law to maintain car insurance, the reality is that sometimes people drive without insurance. If you, as a passenger, have car insurance, you should check to see if you happened to include extra coverage on your own insurance called “Uninsured Motorist Coverage” or “Underinsured Motorist Coverage.”
These types of insurance protect you by providing you coverage if the at-fault driver does not have enough coverage (or any coverage) to pay for your personal injuries related to the accident.
As a passenger, you can not be at-fault for a car accident. However, there are circumstances under which you will not receive full compensation for your personal injuries due to your comparative fault. In a situation that involves comparative fault, you took on risk by being a passenger in that specific situation.
For example, if you make a decision to ride with someone who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or that you knew was for some reason unable to drive safely, your compensation for damages may be reduced or eliminated due to the fact you assumed the risk.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
In most cases, a driver has already opened a claim with their insurance company after the accident. You will need to contact the insurance company of the driver of the car you were a passenger in and discuss your personal injuries, and all of the damages you are seeking.
Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you negotiate with insurance companies. Insurers rarely have the passenger’s best interests in mind regarding payment of claims.
Make Sure You Know Your Rights
If you have been injured as a passenger in a car accident, you have the right to receive compensation for your injuries and lost wages.
Make sure to contact the driver’s insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, and your own insurance company to ensure that you receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.