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Tips for Passengers Injured in Auto Accidents

When you are driving your own vehicle, you are covered by your own auto insurance policy if you are involved in an auto accident.  But what happens when you are a passenger?  Being injured in a car accident as a passenger can be a stressful and sometimes life-altering experience, not only for the accident victim but for their family as well.

Liability Car Insurance

In every state, drivers on the road are required to carry what is known as “liability car insurance.”  This insurance covers harm that happens to other individuals when the driver causes an accident and is liable or at fault. However, a large part of how injuries and damages will be paid depends largely on who was at fault and what type of insurance the drivers involved carry.

As with any personal injury claim, in a car accident case the plaintiff must be able to prove liability and damages.  A passenger involved in an auto accident usually has an easier case than a driver who gets involved in an automobile accident. This is because the passenger does not have to worry about proving liability- one of the drivers is always going to be liable.

Who Was at Fault?

Florida is a “No-Fault” state when it comes to auto insurance liability, which can easily be misunderstood.  Under Florida law, every driver is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is used to cover medical bills, lost wages and future medical treatment, no matter who is at-fault for the accident.  A modest amount when you consider the cost of a single emergency room visit can run you around $10,000.

In most states, fault plays a part in determining which party is responsible for the accident and therefore responsible for the damages sustained. The insurance companies involved will first investigate the accident, reviewing all evidence, including statements from parties involved, reviewing police reports and talking to all witnesses of the accident. If the state is a no-fault state, like Florida, the passenger would be able to pursue a claim against either driver’s insurance policy. 

Making a Claim against the Driver’s Insurance Policy

If the passenger who was hurt was in the car driven by the driver who was at fault, the passenger has the right to file a claim for damages against that driver’s insurance policy. The passenger will then receive payment for his or her injuries from that policy. The driver’s liability coverage will normally cover that passenger’s medical expenses, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering. However, this amount is limited to a certain amount per person and per accident. If the driver happens to be related to the passenger, special circumstances can come up. The insurance company may view the related passenger as an extension of the driver and would deny the claim since the insured driver cannot file a liability claim against his or her own liability coverage. 

Making a Claim against the Other Driver’s Insurance Provider

If it is the other driver who was at fault, the injured passenger can pursue a claim against that driver’s policy. In states where fault can be divided up between the involved parties, the passenger can still pursue a claim against the other driver even if the other driver was found to be to blame for a portion of the accident. Keep in mind, the passenger cannot receive more than what the total value of the claim would be. It must be divided up appropriately based on fault. This factor can benefit the driver if the passenger’s damages were not fully covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

Involving the Passenger’s Policy

In certain situations, the passenger may also be able to file an insurance claim against the medical payments part of the passenger’s car insurance policy. Because medical payments coverage is not liability-based, the passenger does not have to be at fault in any way. However, if the passenger is seeking pain and suffering, that will not be part of the coverage. It also does not cover loss of income or other non-medical expenses. 

Is the Passenger Liable?

It may seem like an unusual situation, but there are situations where the passenger can be somewhat to blame for an auto accident. Think of situations where the driver is distracted by the passenger. In these cases, the passenger can be found partially at fault. If that happens, the passenger’s total recovery amount will be reduced by the percent he or she played into why the accident happened.

FREE CONSULTATION WITH A MIAMI AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

If you are a passenger and have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida it is very important to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney immediately. Florida drivers have just 14 days to seek initial medical attention to receive insurance benefits after an accident.  Spencer Aronfeld is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer, and he and the lawyers at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers understand Florida’s complex personal injury laws and since 1991 we have fought hard to protect the legal rights of the injured and their families- and hold auto insurers like State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, GEICO and others accountable for the pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages suffered by our clients.  Contact us today and speak with an experienced Miami auto accident attorney toll free 1-866-597-4529, local 305-441-0440, or by email.  We offer a free initial consultation at your home, office, hotel or hospital.  Call us today, we are ready to help.