It’s almost impossible for a passenger to be held responsible for a car accident. Normally, passengers are liable only if they were distracting the driver, grabbing at the wheel, or engaging in similarly bizarre behavior.
If you were in the passenger or back seat at the time of an accident, it may be difficult to know where to turn. You need compensation for your injuries, and you need to know who to hold accountable.
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that regardless of who is responsible for an accident, your insurance company should cover your damages. However, your injuries or property damage could be extensive. The costs may exceed your benefits. In that case, you may need to file a claim against the at-fault driver.
Injured passengers have a few options for receiving benefits after a car wreck.
Option 1: File a Claim Against the Other Driver
If the other driver is responsible for the wreck, and your benefits have run out, you need to file against their insurance. To be successful, you must establish fault. This can be difficult, as the details of any car accident can be convoluted.
Furthermore, the driver’s insurance wants to avoid paying you. They may drag out the process, place blame elsewhere, or use other underhanded methods. Make sure you get help from an attorney when you must file against another driver, especially in a no-fault state like Florida.
Option 2: File a Claim with Your Friend’s Insurer
Injured passengers may feel reluctant to file an injury claim if one of the drivers is a friend or co-worker. As uncomfortable as the circumstance may seem, it’s important to understand that the claim isn’t filed against your friend, it’s filed against your friend’s insurer.
If you’re worried that your friend’s rates will increase as a result of filing the claim, it’s more than likely those rates would increase anyway, especially if your friend is seeking reimbursement for property damage to their vehicle.
Your friend’s Bodily Injury Liability (BI) coverage is a good option, but know that coverage limits vary by state. If the other driver’s limits aren’t enough to cover your damages, or if they’re not at fault, you may need to pursue this option.
If your friend has first-party benefits like Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay), these coverages extend to all passengers and payouts, regardless of who is at fault. However, these types of coverage aren’t mandatory in every state.
Again, you must establish fault to file against your friend. Hopefully, your friend will understand and take responsibility. However, they could be reluctant to help. In that case, you must treat them as you would any at-fault driver. You must prove that they are responsible for the wreck and present your evidence to their insurer. Your attorney can help you do this.
Here is a state-by-state list of insurance coverage minimums.
Option 3: File a Claim with Your Insurance Provider
Even though you weren’t driving, it’s possible to file an injury claim with your insurance provider. For example, if you have PIP or MedPay on your policy, these coverages will pay up to their limits.
If your friend or the other driver is uninsured and you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, this can be used in place of Bodily Injury Liability (BI).
All this being said, if you file a claim through your insurer, it’s likely your rates will increase. But in the event that you’ve exhausted all other coverage options, this may be the best way to ensure you’re fairly compensated.
As a passenger, you have rights specific to receiving compensation after an accident. If you have questions about a passenger injury, we’re here to help you understand what coverages are available to you and how to get them.