When you’re behind the wheel of a car involved in an accident and you suffer injuries, you have a right to seek compensation for your medical expenses. Whether the damages fall within the confines of your PIP insurance plan or are more extensive and require seeking a lawsuit against the responsible driver, you can rest a little easier knowing you have options.
But what if you weren’t the one driving the car when the accident happened? What if you were just a passenger inside the car or on the back of the motorcycle? Do you know what your rights are if you suffer injuries in an accident you essentially had nothing to do with?
If you find yourself in such a scenario, know that you can rest a bit easier too; you also have certain rights as an injured passenger. But it’s important to understand how far those rights extend, and what your options for compensation may be.
Rightful Compensation as a Passenger
As a passenger in a car accident or motorcycle accident, you have many of the same rights to compensation that the driver of the vehicle can expect. If the vehicle does not belong to you or your family, you may not need to concern yourself with compensation for any damage it suffers, but you shouldn’t be left to take care of your injuries out of your own pocket.
After an accident, you have a right to seek compensation for your medical bills. This includes any emergency treatment, ambulance transport, medical procedures, medications, and ongoing treatments or therapy as needed. You also have a right to seek coverage for any lost wages you may suffer as a result of the accident. If you’re unable to work while you recover from your injuries and miss out on the income you would otherwise be earning, you can add those calculated wages into your personal injury claim.
In addition to compensation for immediate medical care and any financial losses, like the driver of the vehicle in the accident, you also have a right claim compensation for pain and suffering. This is a broad legal term that can be used to describe both the physical and emotional injuries suffered by a victim following an accident. It can include ongoing pain your injuries cause, as well as any mental anguish suffered as a result. Choosing the right personal injury attorney for your unique situation is the best way to determine what kind of pain and suffering claim you can make.
How Passenger Compensation Works
PIP insurance is currently a requirement for all licensed drivers in the state of Florida to carry—and for good reason. This “no-fault” injury protection can pay medical bills and other rehabilitative costs after an accident up to a certain monetary threshold, and most plans are usefully wide-reaching. What this means is, if you have PIP coverage and are involved in an accident as the driver or a passenger, you may have coverage either way; if you’re a driver involved in an accident, your PIP likely extends to the passengers in your car. Alternatively, if the driver of the car you were in as a passenger does not have this type of coverage, it’s likely that your own PIP plan extends coverage to you as a passenger in the car. It’s important to make sure you understand your insurance plan and how you’re covered.
But this extension of coverage isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll be entirely covered for everything you need. If your injuries are severe enough to warrant medical treatment beyond the standard $10,000 policy limit of PIP coverage, you may need to seek more extensive compensation. And being a passenger may change who you can seek that compensation from.
You may have the right to seek compensation from any party that caused the accident—whether that’s the driver of your vehicle or the driver of another vehicle involved. If you suffer injuries that exceed the coverage offered by insurance or were involved in an accident with a driver without insurance, you could have the option to file for further compensation against the individual or their applicable insurance company.
It’s important to realize, however, that if there were multiple injured passengers in your vehicle, it might limit the compensation you can receive. For example, if you suffer injuries in an accident with a car filled with people who are all injured, that could mean multiple passengers have to split the coverage amount offered by an insurance company. This is especially true if the party in question carries only minimum liability insurance.
How an Attorney Can Help Obtain Passenger Compensation
Car insurance companies are never easy to work with after an accident—and that’s especially true when you aren’t the one specifically named on the insurance plan in question. After an accident, if you decide to seek compensation through the driver’s PIP insurance, their insurance adjuster is likely going to be much less concerned with you than they are with their paying customer. This isn’t to say they will outright refuse to provide coverage to you—though this has been known to happen. They may just be more reluctant to give you the compensation you deserve, or could be slower in getting that compensation to you. When this happens, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to step in.
The right lawyer will not only have a complete understanding of the insurance policy in question and the state laws that are in your favor, but they will have the knowledge and resources needed to build a strong case on your behalf. Doing so involves collecting evidence related to the accident, having unbiased professionals analyze that evidence, collecting and interpreting medical records and receipts, and determining what kind of pain and suffering you may need to claim. And while the responsible driver’s insurance company or lawyer may do everything they can do disprove their client’s involvement in causing the accident, your own attorney will consider all the facts when seeking justice.
The Whisler Law Firm has years of experience helping car accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve. Whether you were a passenger, the driver, or even a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, you have a right to a certain amount of coverage, or the right to seek further compensation should you need it. Our team can help you understand the compensation you deserve for your injuries, determine who should be held liable, and can build a case that demonstrates those details. Our goal is to do the legal heavy lifting so you can focus first and foremost on recovering from your injuries.
Call our office at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online form to schedule an entirely free consultation to get started. If we take on your case, you don’t pay anything unless we help you win.