Fiol Law Group|Posted in Car Accidents on February 26, 2021
You may know how to handle a car accident insurance claim as an injured driver, but the process is not the same as an injured passenger. While it can be easier to obtain an insurance settlement, since you were not at fault, you may or may not have the right to sue the at-fault driver in Florida depending on the circumstances of the crash.
Who Is Liable for Your Injuries?
In Florida, the driver or party at fault for causing the car accident may not be the person who has to pay for the damages through his or her insurance company. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning all injured parties will seek compensation from their own insurers, regardless of fault. As an injured passenger, however, you may not have to file a claim with your own car insurance company, as you would if you were the driver of the vehicle. Three different options may be available to you as an injured passenger:
- Filing a claim against the person driving the vehicle you were riding in.
- Filing a claim against the other driver (or another at-fault party).
- Filing a claim with own insurance provider.
The right legal option will depend on the circumstances of the crash. If your injuries were not serious, you will file a claim with the insurance company of the driver of your vehicle, even if he or she was not at fault for the crash. That driver’s personal injury protection insurance will cover your medical bills and other losses according to Florida’s no-fault law.
If your injuries were serious, however, Florida law may allow you to sue the at-fault driver or another party outside of the no-fault insurance system. You would only seek coverage from your own insurance provider if neither driver had enough insurance to pay for your losses.
When Can You Sue a Driver as a Passenger?
In most cases, if you were injured while riding as a passenger in Florida, you will file an insurance claim with the carrier of the driver of your car, even if that driver did not cause the car accident. If, however, your injuries are serious enough to meet Florida’s threshold, you will have the right to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party in pursuit of financial compensation. An injury that is serious enough will give you the right to sue.
Florida’s serious injury threshold includes the following:
- An injury that will be permanent with a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- Significant, permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Significant, permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Injuries that may qualify you to sue as a passenger in a Florida car accident include broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, a back or spinal cord injury, permanent nerve damage, loss of limb, and lacerations or burns that will leave permanent scars. In these scenarios, you can file a car accident lawsuit against the driver or party guilty of causing the auto collision in Florida. It will be up to that party’s insurance company to pay for your losses in this situation.
How to File a Car Accident Lawsuit as a Passenger
If you wish to bring a car accident lawsuit in Florida, hire a Tampa car accident attorney to assist you with the legal process. Suing a negligent driver or another party – such as the government for a roadway defect – in pursuit of financial damages can be tricky. It will be your responsibility to prove that party’s fault for the auto accident using clear and convincing evidence.
A lawyer can help you protect and gather key evidence to present to an insurance company, judge or jury. Then, your lawyer can fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. Learn more about your legal rights and options as an injured passenger by contacting Fiol & Morros Law Group.