If you have been in an accident in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, riding as a passenger, you may have experienced serious injuries. Whether or not the driver was negligent or the other vehicle’s driver caused the accident, you can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Florida law is clear about a passenger’s rights, and speaking to an attorney as soon as possible after the accident is vital to identifying what rights a passenger injured in a car accident has.
A Driver’s Responsibility Extends to Passengers in a Vehicle
A driver holds a responsibility to others to operate his or her motor vehicle in a reasonable and prudent way so as to avoid accidents that might cause injury. This responsibility extends to other drivers, pedestrians, or passengers in the same or other vehicles. Being negligent and injuring a passenger makes a driver liable for the possible injuries the passenger suffers. The liability is calculated in the amount of funds spent on receiving medical care, the wages that might be lost as the passenger recuperates, and the possible effects of pain and suffering the passenger incurs. The owner of the vehicle, if not the driver, is also liable, and his or her insurance may be open to a claim.
A Passenger’s Responsibility
Passengers have some degree of responsibility. For instance, passengers are obligated to fasten their seat belts and avoid putting themselves in danger by riding with an intoxicated driver. In some cases, the passenger may be seen as giving the driver poor information such as when an individual sitting in the back seat might tell the driver there is time to merge into traffic.
How Are Injuries Compensated
There are several ways compensation to passengers can occur. The drivers of both vehicles are potentially liable. There is a difference between medical expenses and other issues associated with the accident such as lost wages.
Medical Expenses Due to Passenger Injury
An injured passenger may file a claim against the driver of the vehicle the person was riding in, the other driver’s insurance, either the vehicle owner’s insurance or their own PIP insurance. If one source does not cover the medical expenses due to the accident, the remainder can be sought from another source. For example, if the passenger incurred $50,000 in medical expenses and the insurance of the driver or owner of the vehicle they were riding in covers half of that, the remainder may be sought from the driver or owner of the other vehicle. It is not possible to collect more than the total amount, however.
The passenger may also collect medical expenses from their own PIP insurance. If the coverage is less than needed and the driver’s insurance lags behind in paying the additional amount or the claim is still under review, the funds may be paid by the medical payments coverage portion of your PIP insurance. Med Pay does require that any funds paid are returned after a liability claim is settled by a process of subrogation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, passengers make up a significant proportion of fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. Passenger dependency on the driver’s ability to navigate the road safely is evident in crashes that involve children. Although members of a family who live with the driver are unable to launch a claim against the driver of the vehicle within which the individual was riding, children of friends may initiate such a claim. Both family members and non-family members can file a claim against the other driver.
Multiple Passenger Vehicles
Passengers in taxis and other vehicles such as Uber or Lift also have the ability to seek compensation under Florida statute. For those injured in an Uber or Lift vehicle, claims are paid by the driver’s insurance as long as they have procured insurance for the vehicle under a special business policy. If not, the passenger can file a lawsuit against the driver personally. For taxis, since they are considered a common carrier in Florida, similar to buses and trains, taxi drivers must have a personal injury liability policy to cover the expense with a minimum of $125,000/$250,000/$500,000.
Call a Car Accident Attorney
If you are injured in a vehicle driven by someone else, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to find out what rights a passenger injured in a car accident has. You may be reimbursed for expenses in an accident if you were a passenger. A car accident attorney can explain what needs to be done after reviewing your case. Kaiser Romanello has attorneys experienced in Florida laws that govern liability for passengers in motor vehicles and can review your case and advise you. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact us for a free case evaluation.