Being involved in a Florida car accident is not merely a frightening experience. It can also be a costly one. You could need medical care if you sustain injuries in an accident. You also may lose income if your injuries keep you from working.
Hopefully, this will never happen to you. That said, it’s important to remember that even the most responsible drivers can be involved in collisions due to others’ negligence. It’s possible to be in an accident when you’re not driving. You may deserve compensation if this ever occurs.
Maybe you’ve been injured in a Florida car accident as a passenger. If so, you may wonder what your options are for seeking financial compensation. The following overview should help answer your questions on this topic. Consider speaking with an attorney for more information.
Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident in Florida? What You Need to Know About Florida’s No-Fault Laws
Most states are at-fault or “tort” car accident states. In a tort state, when a negligent party causes an accident, victims may seek compensation by filing claims with the negligent party’s insurance. Victims may file a lawsuit against the negligent party if they’re uninsured or their insurer won’t offer a fair settlement.
Florida is different. Florida uses the no-fault model for car accidents.
Motorists in Florida must buy car insurance offering Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP offers up to $10,000 in benefits when a policyholder is injured in a motor vehicle accident.
This means it doesn’t matter whether someone else causes an accident in Florida. An injured driver would still seek compensation by filing a claim with their own insurance.
PIP also covers passengers of a vehicle. As such, if you were injured as a passenger in a car accident, you may receive compensation through the driver's insurance. This is only an option if you don’t have your own insurance. The next section of this blog will address this in greater detail.
The law requires victims to file claims within 14 days of their accidents. Don’t delay if you believe you have reason to file a claim.
When a Passenger Has Insurance in Florida
A common misconception is that a passenger injured in a Florida car accident should always seek compensation through the driver’s PIP. That’s not necessarily the case.
If you own a vehicle, you should also have your own insurance so your PIP may compensate you. The PIP of the driver of the vehicle you were in when the accident happened will pay you only if you’re not insured.
Someone who doesn't own their own vehicle might also be insured under the insurance of a family member with whom they live. The PIP of a child's parents, for example, will typically cover them if they're hurt in an accident as a passenger in someone else's vehicle.
When PIP Doesn’t Pay Enough
There are instances when PIP fails to pay enough to fully compensate a victim for their medical bills, lost wages, and related losses. In Florida, if someone's injuries after an accident meet a certain threshold, they can seek additional compensation from the negligent party who caused their accident.
This may be an option if a victim’s injuries:
- Cause them to significantly or permanently lose an “important bodily function.”
- Are likely to be permanent.
- Consist of major or permanent “scarring or disfigurement.”
- Result in a victim’s death.
A passenger injured in a Florida car accident may also be able to seek compensation by suing the driver who caused it. This will require gathering evidence to prove who caused the accident.
You don’t have to investigate an accident to gather evidence on your own. It’s likely you don’t have the resources needed to do so. Instead, you may hire an attorney to handle this task on your behalf.
Comparative Fault in Florida Car Accidents: Important Information
Florida has a comparative fault law. This law can affect how much money a car accident victim may receive when seeking compensation.
It’s not always the case that one party is fully responsible for causing a collision. Sometimes, multiple parties may play a role in an accident. If someone is partially to blame for causing their own accident or injuries in Florida, their compensation may decrease.
Suppose someone files a lawsuit seeking $10,000. Perhaps it is shown that they are 30% responsible for the severity of their injuries. If so, the most they could recover would be $7,000.
There are ways a passenger may be negligent to a degree when an accident occurs. Examples include:
- Not wearing a seatbelt.
- Distracting the driver.
- Attempting to interfere with the driver by pretending to grab the wheel, manipulate vehicle controls, etc.
It’s uncommon for passengers to be found negligent when car accidents occur. It’s also not unheard of.
This highlights an important point. A passenger is still responsible for their own safety and the safety of others when riding in a motor vehicle. Passengers need to avoid creating dangerous situations that could lead to accidents.
How a Florida Car Accident Attorney Can Help if You Were Injured as a Passenger
Determining how to proceed when you’ve been injured in an accident while riding as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle can be challenging. This is one of many reasons to strongly consider reviewing your case with a lawyer.
A Florida car accident attorney may assist you in the following ways:
- Reviewing your case and explaining your legal options.
- Determining if you have justification to file a lawsuit.
- Investigating the accident if doing so is necessary to prove negligence.
- Completing and submitting all paperwork.
- Estimating how much compensation you may be eligible to receive.
- Managing all correspondence with the insurance company.
Focusing on your health should be your top priority after being harmed as a passenger in a car accident. This is easier to do when someone else handles your claim or lawsuit.
Hiring a lawyer gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have someone on your side. Learn more about what a lawyer can do for you by finding one in your area and scheduling a consultation today.