What Rights Do Passengers Have in a Car Accident?

When someone enters a car as a passenger, they essentially place their lives in the hands of the vehicle’s driver and other motorists. The trauma of being a passenger in a car crash is not an easy feat, yet it happens more frequently than most people may realize. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), Florida has one of the highest rates of car accidents in the country. 

Car accidents are traumatizing events for everyone involved, including passengers. However, most passengers are unaware of the legal options after being injured in a car accident. Passengers involved in Boynton Beach car crashes should consult a Boynton Beach car accident lawyer. Legal representation can strengthen cases and increase the chances of a fair outcome.

Keep reading to learn about passengers’ rights after a Florida car accident.

What a Florida Passenger Should Do If Injured in a Crash

Under Florida law, a passenger in a car accident may qualify to file a claim for injuries sustained through personal injury. When filing a claim, one of the primary factors to consider is which driver was at fault. This is why it’s crucial to report accidents to the police and insurance companies soon after a crash.

All accidents are different. In some cases, only one party is at fault for the collision; in others, the fault can be shared. If more than one party is responsible for the accident, the passenger victim may potentially submit a claim against both drivers. 

Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. If both parties share the blame for the accident, you may be able to seek compensation from each of them. 

What Are the Passenger Rights in Florida Car Accidents?

Passengers have the same rights as vehicle drivers to seek compensation for their damages. They can file insurance claims. However, passengers can file a claim against the driver’s insurance coverage if the driver was at fault for the accident. 

In some cases, passengers may be eligible to file a personal injury claim. If you are unsure of what steps to take after a Florida car accident, contact a car accident lawyer near you to discuss your legal options. 

Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP)

As a no-fault insurance state, Florida requires all drivers to have personal injury protection insurance. Regardless of who was at fault for an accident, an insured driver’s insurance company should ideally cover their medical expenses and losses. 

As standard passenger coverage, PIP is included in nearly all auto insurance plans. PIP policies can cover a maximum of $10,000 in medical costs.

The Other Driver’s Insurance Coverage 

The other driver’s insurance coverage may cover medical expenses and property damage if that driver is at fault. The amount of coverage for passengers is subject to the terms of the other driver’s insurance policy.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal injury lawsuits are civil legal actions filed by an injured individual against the party or parties responsible for their injuries. A personal injury suit against the responsible party may be an option if someone suffers injuries in an automobile crash in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Health Insurance Coverage

You should be able to use health insurance to cover medical expenses. However, those injured in car accidents may have to deplete their auto benefits before using health insurance. 

Can Passengers Be Liable in Florida Car Accidents?

According to state and federal laws, a passenger is not responsible for driving or operating a vehicle. This means that passengers are usually not held liable for accidents, but this is not always the case.

A passenger may be held partially responsible for an accident in the following scenarios:

  • Taking control of the vehicle while sitting in the passenger seat. For example, by reaching over and recklessly grabbing the wheel.
  • Encouraging or enabling a driver to drive dangerously or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Distracting or incapacitating a driver.

If a passenger intentionally rides with someone unfit to drive, the passenger may be barred from receiving any compensation.

Passenger No-Fault Claims

All auto insurance companies in Florida are legally required to provide PIP coverage with all car insurance policies. PIP covers damages suffered by:

  • The policyholder
  • Family members of the insured victim that share the same residence
  • Drivers
  • Passengers
  • Victims hit by the insured person’s car

No matter who caused the accident, PIP should cover at least 80% of the medical and 60% of victims’ lost wages. However, a victim must file a claim 14 days after the car crash.

To build a solid case, submitting a claim as soon as possible is the best action. Although they have the right to launch an investigation into the claim, insurance companies must pay out claims within 30 days. Interest charges will apply to any overdue payments.

If the damages suffered by a passenger exceed $10,000, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties. 

How to Determine Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury compensation’s primary role is to cover costs associated with an accident. Damages awarded help restore the plaintiff to their pre-injury financial and health position.

Deciding on the amount of compensation to seek can be a challenging feat. Economic damages with a precise dollar value, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost income, are easier to determine. On the other hand, non-economic damages, including emotional distress and mental anguish, are more difficult to quantify.  

Overview of the Litigation Process

Plaintiffs shouldn’t assume they’re entitled to everything they’re demanding just because they were passengers. a victim cannot win a negligence claim if the collision was caused by something beyond the driver’s control, such as a falling tree or an alligator crossing the road in the middle of the night.

Claimants must also prove that the accident directly caused their injury. If suing someone for damages related to back pain that was already severe before the accident, the other side can obtain medical records or interview the injured passenger under oath to learn more about the pre-existing ailment. Damage awards may be reduced if it turns out that some of the injuries occurred before the accident.

Compensation may be lowered if multiple people were hurt in the collision. It doesn’t matter how many people were injured or missed work because of the accident. Injured passengers are limited to the negligent party’s insurance policy limits.

A Workers’ Compensation claim might come into play if the car accident occurred while the passenger was performing job-related duties, such as driving a corporate car, making deliveries, or operating a motor vehicle. 

How an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Boynton Beach, Florida, Can Help

Injured victims in Florida car accidents don’t have to fight alone. A seasoned vehicle accident attorney can help passengers involved in auto crashes seek compensation.

Having a lawyer on their team throughout the discovery process is crucial. To identify who was at fault in an accident, car accident lawyers arrange depositions of the involved parties, witnesses, and specialists. 

Your lawyer will have a list of questions ready to ask during the deposition. The deposed party must provide answers under oath. If the person being deposed is represented by counsel, that counsel may raise objections to questions that are irrelevant to the case at hand.

After gathering evidence and depositions, settlement negotiations will commence. The case finally goes to trial when negotiations for a settlement fail. Experienced attorneys in Florida will present the evidence gathered during discovery to help their clients seek compensation for their injuries.

Contact Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers for Legal Counsel

Whether you were the driver or a passenger, the outcome of an automobile accident claim can be affected by various factors. This is why contacting a personal injury lawyer immediately after a car crash is essential. 

Call Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers at (561) 800-8000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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