Car accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are very stressful events. The victims often sustain mild to severe injuries. Some collisions leave no survivors, however. For example, there were 3,332 accident fatalities on Florida roads in 2020. Fortunately, most car accident survivors can recover compensation following a crash. Firstly, however, they’ll likely need to find a car accident lawyer.
When people think of car accident claims, they usually imagine drivers filing claims against each other. However, vehicle passengers may also sustain losses in crashes. Therefore, it’s vital to know if such injured parties can sue the car’s driver. This is why it’s best to hire an attorney after a collision. An experienced lawyer will know whether you can sue the driver and can help you start the process.
Can I Sue the Driver if I Was a Passenger in the Car During an Accident?
Yes, car crash victims could sue a Florida driver if they sustained accident wounds in their vehicle. When people enter vehicles, they give control to the drivers. They also trust that the driver will handle the car carefully and safely. If the driver negligently causes an accident, Florida law allows a remedy for the injured passenger.
Firstly, suppose the passenger’s driver wasn’t responsible. Then, they can sue the at-fault driver. However, this article focuses on when the passenger’s driver was responsible for the crash. In this case, the passenger can file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable driver. Notably, though, the right to sue is subject to Florida’s no-fault rules.
Is Florida a Fault-Based Accident State?
No, Florida operates under a no-fault accident system. Therefore, suppose parties are involved in a Fort Lauderdale car crash. They’ll have to recover benefits from their insurance policies. Therefore, Florida law mandates that vehicle owners carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
Florida road users also call PIP insurance “no-fault vehicle insurance.” When an accident occurs, the drivers don’t sue the at-fault party. Instead, they can recover from their medical and other bills from their PIP insurance. At this stage, the responsibility of the collision is irrelevant.
Can the Passenger Receive Compensation Under PIP Insurance?
Yes, PIP insurance is unique because it doesn’t only cover the policyholder. Rather, other parties affected by the accident can recover compensation under the policy. For example, PIP insurance covers:
- Passengers of vehicle drivers with PIP insurance
- Household members of PIP policyholders
This means that a Fort Lauderdale car driver involved in a car crash can cover a passenger’s medical and other bills with their PIP insurance.
When Can Passengers Sue the Driver of the Vehicle?
If the car driver’s PIP insurance covers the injured passenger, they have no reason to sue the driver. However, there are certain limited instances where the passenger can validly file a lawsuit. We explain some of these instances below.
When the Accident Losses Exceeds the Policy Limit
All insurance policies have coverage limits. This refers to the maximum sum the insurance company can pay out upon the insured incident. For PIP insurance, the limit is $10,000. Therefore, if the passenger’s losses exceed $10,000, they can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
The recoverable sum for medical bills also differs under PIP insurance. In this case, the passenger may not receive more than $2,500. Being eligible for higher compensation depends on whether the passenger had an emergency medical condition following the accident. Finally, Fort Lauderdale collision survivors can be compensated up to $5,000 in disability and death benefits, if merited.
Where the Passenger’s Treatment Procedures Aren’t Covered Under PIP Insurance
Insurance policies may also specify covered injuries and medical procedures. For instance, PIP insurance doesn’t cover massage and acupuncture. For example, suppose the injured passenger had to undergo massage or acupuncture treatments. This means that the driver’s PIP insurance cannot cover the cost of such procedures. In this instance, they can sue the fault driver for these bills.
When the Passenger Receives Late Treatment
Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers advise that collision victims should receive immediate medical care. This is because such treatment increases their chances of recovering fully from their wounds. Additionally, urgent health care also affects your chances of successfully seeking compensation.
Accident victims who want to benefit from PIP insurance must obtain medical care within 14 days. Therefore, if a survivor receives treatment later than 14 days, they will lose their right to have their medical bills compensated under the driver’s PIP insurance policy. It is highly recommended to receive medical attention as soon as possible.
Proving the Driver’s Liability
Imagine that an at-fault driver’s PIP insurance cannot cover the passenger’s losses. Then, they’ll have to resort to the courts for compensation. This is where the principle of negligence applies. They must then prove that the driver was responsible for the collision. This is the only way they can successfully recover damages.
Plaintiffs must prove the following:
Duty of Care
The injured passenger must show that the driver owed them a duty of care. This isn’t a challenging requirement. All drivers have the responsibility to drive carefully and not cause crashes.
Breach of the Duty of Care
The collision victim must show that the driver breached their duty of care. They must identify the particular negligent conduct that amounts to a breach. For example, they can show that the driver was speeding or driving under the influence.
The next step is to show how the breach caused the accident. For example, a driver may have been negligent. However, such negligence may not be the exact cause of the crash.
Finally, the passenger must show that they suffered harm from the collision. This harm could be bodily injuries or property losses.
After proving these essentials, the court can award a sum of damages to cover the victim’s losses.
What If the Accident Occurred in the Injured Party’s Vehicle?
Many vehicle owners have drivers, thus making them passengers whenever their employees drive. Unfortunately, however, some of such drivers drive recklessly and cause accidents. Another driver can also be responsible for the collision. Suppose the victim’s driver was responsible for the crash.
Then, the injured party can recover compensation from their vehicle’s PIP insurance coverage. Similarly, suppose another party causes the collision. The injured passenger will still have to rely on their insurance policy. It’s only in the circumstances where PIP insurance doesn’t apply that they can sue the fault driver.
Hire the Best Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers Today
Were you injured in a car accident? Were you the passenger and the driver negligently caused the collision? If you answer both questions in the affirmative, you may be eligible for compensation. First, however, you’ll want the best Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney. This is because filing a Fort Lauderdale car crash lawsuit can become complicated without the guidance of professional advice.
Fortunately, you can find the best attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers. Our lawyers have spent several years helping car crash victims. We’ve also helped our clients seek compensation for their accumulated expenses due to an accident. We have all it takes to help you through the legal process. Call us today at (561) 800-8000 for a free consultation.