What Injured Passengers Should Do if Involved in an Accident
September 17, 2019
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Passengers
Most motor vehicle accidents are chaotic events. In many events, the parties involved in the accident and their insurance companies may not agree upon who was at fault. As a passenger, you know that you are not to blame for the accident, so why should you be forced to wait while the drivers involved fight amongst themselves to determine who was responsible? You may be surprised to learn that passengers involved in motor vehicle accidents have options available to them to obtain recovery for their damages and injuries.
As noted, the drivers involved in the crash, their insurance companies, and their lawyers, if any, will begin an investigation to determine who was at fault for the accident. This investigation will include a review of police reports, examination of the accident scene and photos of the scene and the vehicles, statements from parties involved and statements from any witnesses.
Filing Claims Against Your Driver’s Insurer
If the driver of your vehicle is determined to be at fault for the accident, you have the legal right to file a claim against the liability coverage of the driver’s insurance policy. Liability coverage typically provides compensation for medical expenses to treat injuries, lost wages and income, and pain and suffering caused by the accident. Liability coverage almost always has per person and per accident limits, so you may not be able to recover your full losses.
However, if you are related to and/or live in the same household as the driver of your vehicle, you may not be permitted to recover against the liability coverage of your driver’s insurance policy since you may qualify as an insured under that policy yourself; an insured cannot file a liability claim against his or her own liability policy.
Filing Claims Against the Other Drivers
Conversely, if the driver of another vehicle is found to be at fault for the accident, you can pursue a claim against that driver’s insurance policy. In addition, if both the driver of your vehicle and the driver of another vehicle share responsibility for the accident, you are legally entitled to pursue a claim against the insurance policies of both drivers. Of course, the total amount you can recover from all drivers who are found to be at fault for the accident cannot exceed the total amount of your losses. In other words, double recovery of your losses is not permitted. If a driver has insufficient coverage to cover his or her share of the losses, you may be able to recover from another at-fault driver, although a court may limit your recovery against a driver to their share of the fault.
Filing Claims Against Your Own Insurer
Finally, you may be able to file a claim against your own auto policy, if you have one. Your claim must be limited to the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of your policy. PIP coverage is not based on fault, so there is no need to determine who was at fault for the accident. However, PIP coverage is typically limited to medical expenses and does not cover damages such as lost income or pain and suffering. Moreover, if you obtain compensation from your own insurance company and then later obtain further compensation from an at-fault driver, your compensation may be reduced by the amount you’ve received from your insurance.
As noted above, motor vehicle accident cases require an apportionment of liability if more than one person was responsible for the accident. A party who shoulders a minority of the fault can have his or her financial recovery reduced by his or her portion of fault. Therefore, if it is determined that you as a passenger share a portion of fault for the accident, your recovery from the other at-fault parties will be reduced by your share of responsibility.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Motor Vehicle Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a motor vehicle accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. represent clients injured because of car accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents in Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, and throughout Florida. Call (561) 533-0345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 813 Lucerne Ave., Lake Worth, FL 33460, as well as offices in Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.