Frequently Asked Questions - Can a Passenger Sue a Driver in an Accident?
Whether it be a fender bender or a serious crash, being involved in an accident is stressful. Being involved in a car accident as a passenger, with no control over the situation, is probably even worse. Most people involved in accidents are unaware of their rights and often times find themselves hurt and confused as to what their next step may be. Fortunately, we are here to tell you that passengers have rights too and can sue the driver(s) that is deemed liable for the crash. Though these claims can at times be tricky they are still eligible for different types of compensation for damages caused as a result of the crash.
The first step in these types of instances is reporting the incident by filing a claim with both or all of the drivers insurance companies. Depending on your relationship to the driver of the vehicle you were in this could rustle some feathers, however, it is important to understand that you are essentially filing a claim against the insurance company not the driver directly. Often time’s passengers in a vehicle are friends of the drivers and believe if they pursue a claim for damages that it is against their friend directly. All claims that are pursued through the insurance of the driver and or owner of the vehicle you were in. In other words none of the compensation received would ultimately come directly out of the driver/owners pocket, rather from their insurance company.
From here it is in the hands of the insurance company. Each insurance company will proceed with their investigation to determine who is at fault for the crash. Throughout this process you can expect insurance adjusters to ask for evidence of any kind to help aid in their investigation. Including but not limited to photos of the damage to the vehicles and formal or informal statements from each involved party depicting the details of the crash. Once liability is determined the passenger then knows which insurance will be the one legally liable for compensating him/her for their damages. The good news is a passenger in a vehicle will likely never be deemed at fault for the crash, for obvious reason.
Once liability is accepted the passenger can then continue the process with the at fault party’s insurance company. They will be eligible for different types of compensation such as lost wages, pain and suffering and medical expenses. This, of course, is a simple scenario where two vehicles are involved and liability is determined quickly and straightforward. In many instances however, it can be tricky to determine liability and insurance companies could go back and forth for some time before making a final determination.
For example, when multiple vehicles are involved in a collision it may become more difficult for the insurance company to pin point liability on just one vehicle. At times there could be a determination that results in partial liability among multiple vehicles. In these types of cases the passenger of the vehicle could ultimately be entitled to compensation from multiple insurances. Scenarios like these are common but the important thing to understand is no matter how complicated, a passenger is still entitled to compensation for their damages. Being a passenger and not a direct cause of an accident does not make the injuries suffered any less severe.
Although this process could take time and become frustrating passengers that are injured can still receive the medical care they need by filing a claim under their own insurance for personal injury protection coverage. In the state of Florida it is mandatory to carry this coverage if you are a registered owner of a vehicle. The point of this coverage is to essentially pay a portion of your medical bills so that you can still get the care you need without having to pay out of your own pocket. Personal injury protection coverage or PIP is not determined based on liability it is essentially there to cover medical expenses as a result of any loss whether it be your fault or not. If the passenger filing for PIP coverage does not own a vehicle of their own they could also file for this coverage under the driver or owner of the vehicle they were in at the time of the crash.
One of the trickiest parts in this process comes during settlement. Once the insurance companies have deemed who is at fault and the passengers continue pursing their claims they will reach a point where settlement should be considered. In a simple two vehicle accident there will likely be a settlement arising to all injured parties from the at fault vehicles insurance policy. This, of course, can become complicated when multiple passengers are involved in a car accident and or have sustained damages or injuries. Insurance companies typically only carry a maximum amount of monies available to recover for all injured parties involved. If multiple passengers suffer significant injuries that involve high medical expenses and serious damages a law suit may need to be filed against the at fault driver for full recovery of the damages of the injured passenger.
Accidents are something no one ever plans to be involved in, especially as a passenger. We always hope and entrust in the driver to get us to our destination without incident, unfortunately, that is not always the case. In these instances we at Trial Pro, P.A. highly recommend always seeking a consultation with one of our experienced Trial Pro, P.A. Auto Accident attorney’s. Our staff is composed of highly trained attorneys that can help guide you in the right direction throughout this difficult time. We offer free consultations and combined have gathered enough experience to accurately assist and answer any questions or concerns you may have. We recognize that auto incidents can be life-altering and being a passenger involved in such a situation can be detrimental to ones way of life, which is why we at Trial Pro, P.A. strive to help you in a professional and dedicated manner through out every step of the way.