When someone operates a vehicle, they have an assumed duty of care towards their passengers and other road users. They are expected to act in a reasonable way to keep those around them safe.
Drivers even have an extra responsibility to passengers in their cars. For example, according to the Florida Saftey Belt Law, laid out in Florida Statute 316.614, drivers must ensure that all of their passengers over 18 are wearing a seatbelt and any children are wearing appropriate protection.
Furthermore, when a driver behaves negligently and causes a car accident, the passengers in that vehicle have a right to make a claim against the driver if they have suffered injuries as a result of the crash. Florida Statute Chapter 768 places liability on the driver since the driver is responsible for their passengers.
Passengers are also entitled to make a claim against the vehicle owner if they allow a negligent driver to operate their vehicle.
Drivers are held responsible for their passengers in Florida. If you have been a passenger in a car accident and are looking to claim compensation for your injuries, then contact The Law Place today for a free consultation. Call us today at (941) 444-4444!
Where Is a Passenger Accident Claim Directed?
Knowing where to direct your claim can be complicated and confusing when you are involved in the accident as a passenger, which is why it is so important to find personal injury lawyers with a wealth of experience in this field, like those from The Law Place.
Depending on the specifics of the accident, your claim could involve:
- The driver of the car you were traveling in.
- The owner of the car you were traveling in.
- The other driver involved in the car crash.
- Another at-fault party, such as a mechanic or the body responsible for maintaining the road.
- Your own insurer.
Determining Liability Following a Car Accident
Following a car accident, the first step will be determining who was liable for the accident. The person who holds liability for the accident may also be responsible for any costs you have incurred since the crash happened.
Most passengers in car accidents will look to their own driver to claim compensation due to Florida’s no-fault laws. However, each case is unique, and sometimes passengers must look to the at-fault driver for compensation, and sometimes there is more than one at-fault driver, and passengers must look to multiple parties to compensate them.
Accidents Involving Only One Car
If the person driving the vehicle hits an inanimate object, then they will be liable for the accident. As a passenger, you may be able to make a claim against their insurance company.
The driver may experience an increase in insurance premiums as a result, although sometimes insurance companies can show leniency for a first claim.
If you experience an accident with one or more vehicles, at least one driver will bear liability, or the fault could be shared across more than one party.
Florida operates under comparative fault, as per Florida Statute 768.81. This means that you can claim against more than one at-fault party, up to the degree that they are found to be at fault.
For example, if one driver is found to be 60% liable, and the other 40%, then any passengers could claim against both parties. Each driver can also claim against the other to the degree that any other parties are found to be at fault.
As per Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that drivers must first look to their own insurance policy to claim compensation for an accident, regardless of who was at fault. Their passengers must also look to their own driver’s insurance company regardless of fault.
If someone is a passenger in a car, and their damages exceed their driver’s insurance policy, or their driver was uninsured, then they can also look to their own insurance to compensate them. If their damages exceed both their drivers and their own insurance policy, then they can make a claim against the at-fault driver, which could be their own driver, someone else, or both.
If your passenger is someone who lives with you, then they will not be able to file a claim with your insurance company. Most insurance companies have clauses that don’t allow family members living in the same household to make a claim with your liability insurance after an accident, as this may result in fraud. For instance, if a spouse is allowed to sue their partner, then there could be collaboration involved in order to get money from their insurance policy.
What Can the Injured Passenger in a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim For?
The value of your settlement will depend upon the value of your damages and the severity of the accident. However, whether you are a driver or a passenger, the types of damages you can claim against an at-fault party are the same.
Claiming for Medical Costs
Car accidents can result in hefty medical bills. An attorney can help you claim for both past medical bills and the estimated value of any future medical bills related to the crash.
However, it is important to note that if you did not seek medical attention within 14 days of the crash, then you will not be able to make a claim, as per Florida Statute 627.736.
Claiming for Lost Wages
If your injuries left you unable to work, then you could have lost out on income. You can claim for both your lost wages and the estimated value of future lost income if your injuries are ongoing.
Claiming for Property Damage
The car accident may also have led to damaged valuables to your personal property, such as a phone or laptop.
As a driver, you may also need to claim for damage to your car.
Claiming for Pain and Suffering
Property damage and physical injuries are not your only concerns following a car accident. It is also likely that you are suffering from emotional suffering, either because of the trauma of the accident itself, or the limitations to your life caused by your injuries, or both.
Pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate you for that. They are difficult to quantify and highly subjective. But your attorney will know how to evidence your claim so that you can maximize the amount you receive.
Pain and suffering damages can be calculated in various ways, but a common method is to use the value of your medical expenses and multiply it by a number between 1 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries. For example, if you have been left with debilitating injuries that could affect you for the rest of your life, then that multiplier could be 5.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim
Florida Statute 95.11 details the statute of limitations, which is a time limit for you to make a claim following a car accident. This time limit stands regardless of whether you are a driver or a passenger.
For personal injury claims, you have four years from the date of the accident to make a claim. However, exceptions could be made for exceptional circumstances, such as if you have been in a coma.
This might sound like a long time, but every car accident case is complex, and legal processes can take a long time, especially where there is disagreement over liability. You should speak to a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible so that they can preserve evidence and get right to work on your case.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, then speak to The Law Place today. We offer a free consultation so that you can get clarity on your situation and be confident in your next steps.
Whether you were the passenger of a car accident, or you experienced a car accident that resulted in injuries to your passengers, an attorney can help. There are many different laws regarding vehicle accidents, and The Law Place can guide you through the complexities of your case.
Personal injury claims involving passengers of a vehicle can escalate quickly, and legal representation can ensure that your rights are protected. Additionally, you may want to file a personal injury claim against the other driver if their negligence led to injuries.
Many of our attorneys have the highest AVVO rating of 10.0, based on years in service, client reviews, awards received, and more, so you can be confident that your case is in the right hands.
For more information on how a passenger car accident attorney from The Law Place can help you obtain the maximum level of compensation for your injuries, call us on (941) 444-4444 as soon as possible for a free consultation!