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Passengers Hurt in a Florida Car Accident
Passenger Injury Lawyer
Unfortunately, a large number of Florida car accidents involve injuries to not only the drivers but to passengers as well. Fortunately, injured passengers who are unrelated to the driver can be covered for their loss under the driver’s insurance policy as well as their own, especially their own auto and health insurance policies. However, Passengers who are members of the driver’s family, might find that the total coverage available for their injuries is limited by liability maximums per accident.
What Insurance Is Available to An Injured Passenger In A Car Accident?
Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means that a passenger doesn’t have to prove someone is at fault for a car accident before a claim is paid on a car insurance policy. As a “no fault” state, Florida law requires all drivers carry minimum insurance coverage to cover $10,000 in personal injuries. This is known as “PIP benefits” (for Personal Injury Protection).
Florida does NOT require drivers to have insurance coverage for additional personal injuries that they, their passengers, or other accident victims may suffer. This kind of insurance coverage is called Bodily Injury Liability benefits (or “BIL” benefits). Most people carry BIL coverage, but it’s not required by law that they do so.
Why pay for more insurance? Legally, just because the driver doesn’t have to insure the safety of his or her passengers does not mean he isn’t legally responsible for keeping them safe from harm. A driver owes a legal duty to all passengers in the vehicle to exercise ordinary and reasonable care while driving. See, Carver v. Chase, 128 Fla. 287, 174 So 408 (1937).
If there is a traffic accident, a Florida driver will be legally liable to his or her passengers for their injuries if he or she was negligent and caused the crash. If the other driver was negligent, then the passengers may have legal claims for damages against that driver. Whether or not either driver has insurance coverage to pay the damages for which they are liable is a different matter.
For more about PIP or BIL coverage see our web resources page; for more about filing claims or lawsuits based upon car accidents in Florida, check out our site information – Car Crash FAQ.
The Rights of a Passenger Hurt in a Florida Auto Accident
Passengers that are hurt in Florida car accident have a negligence claim against the driver who was responsible for the accident. They may have legal claims against anyone else whose negligence caused their harm, as well. Like the other driver(s). And passengers may be able to seek legal damages from additional parties, too, like a shopping mall that failed to fix its parking lot lighting if darkness was a contributing factor to the crash, for example.
Before filing any lawsuits, of course, the passenger is wise to determine the extent of insurance coverage available to them after the crash. A passenger in a Florida traffic accident may be able to file a damage claim with a variety of insurance policies, such as:
- PIP coverage on insurance policy of the driver who was driving them;
- PIP coverage on insurance policy of owner of that vehicle;
- BIL coverage on insurance policy of the driver who caused the accident with his or her negligence;
- BIL coverage on insurance policy of the driver who was driving them if they were partly to blame for what happened; and
- BIL coverage on insurance policies of owners of each of these vehicles.
Each passenger is capped at receiving their total claim amount; you cannot collect the total damages on each policy and get a windfall here.
2. Personal Liability
Insurance is a contract purchased as protection in the event of a bad event. If a driver is wise enough to be adequately covered by insurance, then his policy will pay the damages that result from a crash and the driver is protected from having to pay out of his own pocket.
However, if that driver is negligent and causes an accident, he is personally responsible. If he does not have insurance, or if his policy limits do not cover all the harm that has been caused by his negligence, then his personal assets may be vulnerable to judgment.
Passengers who exhaust the insurance coverage available to them in an accident may have no choice but to go after the personal assets of the driver. A lawsuit may result in a judgment against the driver for an amount he or she is responsible for paying out of their own pocket.
Of course, the insurance adjuster, the insurance defense attorney, and the driver himself may have defenses to the passenger’s claim for injury damages. They may argue that the passenger was negligent.
Passenger Negligence as a Defense to Payment of Passenger Damage Claims
There are several defenses that can be asserted against a passenger in a Florida car crash case. These include:
1. The passenger was in the car without a legal right to be there. If someone jumps in the back of a pick up or van without the driver’s knowledge or approval, and there is a crash, that passenger may not be covered the same way as someone invited to ride in the vehicle will be.
2. Passengers that assume the risk of getting into a car driven by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a teenager, for example, chooses to ride home with her boyfriend even though she knows he’s drunk and there is an accident, that teenager may have a legal hurdle to jump before damages can be paid to her.
3. Passengers who fail to act with reasonable care of their own safety. If a passenger refuses to wear a safety belt, for instance, and there is a wreck, then they may be considered to have negligently contributed to their own injuries. (It’s against the law in Florida not to wear a seat belt. See Florida Statute 316.614.)
Get Help From An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Any passenger who is hurt in a traffic accident can demand compensation for their damages from all drivers, the owners of the vehicles, and other parties, too. Passenger cases can become very complicated very quickly, particularly if the damages are serious and long-term or permanent.
Alan Sackrin’s 30+ years of experience handling car accident cases makes him qualified to handle any type of car accident claim. Alan is a Board Certified civil trial lawyer which means he is an expert in proving the value of your damages.
Contact An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
Contact Alan Sackrin to find out how he can help you. You can contact him by phone at 954-458-8655 or by e-mail through this web site to schedule an appointment and learn more about your rights if you are a passenger injured in a South Florida car accident. Alan offers a free initial consultation to evaluate your claim and answer your questions.
Car Accidents: Driver’s Duty to Passengers (From Our Blog)
Representing clients with accidents occuring in Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Plantation, Hollywood & Hallandale Beach Since 1982
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