Can I Sue if I Was a Passenger in a Car Accident in Florida?
Cruising under Florida’s warm weather should be an enjoyable experience. However, this may not be the reality for many drivers. Every year, thousands of car accidents and injuries are reported to Florida authorities. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), in 2018, there were 403,626 crashes reported, and 3,135 confirmed deaths. Additionally, during the same year, there were 236,157 reported injuries. It is possible you were a passenger involved in an accident and may wonder whether you can sue the liable parties. Boca Raton car accident lawyer Brian Schwechter or Schwechter Law Group invites you to keep reading as we discuss whether you can sue if you were a car passenger in Florida.
Can a Passenger Sue After a Car Accident in Florida?
Passengers in car, taxi, and truck accidents may wonder whether they have the ability to sue. Yes, you have the right to get compensation after a car wreck, just as any driver would. You may be able to obtain compensation by filing a lawsuit against the liable party or parties. You can file a claim against the driver of the vehicle you were a passenger and their insurance company. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may also want to pursue the other driver’s insurance company or your own auto insurance.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to liability and auto insurance. Under the no-fault system, you can obtain compensation regardless of who was at-fault for the car accident. Under this system, all drivers are required to acquire minimum personal injury protection (PIP). The minimum PIP every car owner must carry is $10,000. This amount of money can be used to cover medical bills and lost wages associated with a car accident. In short, PIP will cover 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost income.
But what happens in situations where your medical bills exceed the $10,000 minimum? You may be worried because your medical bills have gone through the roof, and your driver’s PIP can’t cover the remaining expenses. In such situations, you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. Their coverage may pay for the remainder of your medical expenses. For instance, if you have $15,000 in medical costs, the other driver’s insurance may pay for the remaining $5,000.
Can I Sue the Other Driver Directly in a Car Accident in Florida?
You may wonder whether you can sue the other driver directly after a car accident. As we mentioned before, Florida is an at-fault system, which prevents you from getting compensation from things such as pain and suffering. Your compensation generally comes – as mentioned above – from the driver’s PIP (if you were a passenger).
However, there is an exception to the general no-fault rule in Florida. You can file a lawsuit against the liable party. However, you may do so if your injuries qualify as “serious.” Your injury must cause severe disfigurement, bone fracture, or permanent or significant organ or bodily function to meet the definition of “serious” as established by state law. If you meet any of these criteria, you can pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Different from PIP laws, you may obtain compensation for things such as pain and suffering.
The fact you can obtain compensation from the liable party in a car accident does not mean the court will grant it automatically. You will need to prove specific elements in order to obtain compensation.
The first element you will need to prove in your personal injury claim is the duty of care. You can prove this element by establishing the at-fault driver owed you a duty to drive safely at all times. Second, you will need to demonstrate the liable driver breached their duty of care. Breach of duty can be shown by providing evidence demonstrating the driver failed to drive safely, as expected from a prudent, reasonable person. Third, you will need to establish causation. Causation requires linking the driver’s negligence with your accident and subsequent injuries. Finally, you will need to show you suffered the injuries justifying the concession of compensation. If you can successfully prove your claim with the court, you may obtain compensation or “damages.”
However, your compensation may be reduced if you were partially responsible for your car accident. Florida follows a comparative negligence theory in car accidents. Under this theory, a plaintiff’s compensation may be reduced based on the percentage of negligence. For instance, if the court awards you $100,000 in compensation, but you were found 10% responsible for your accident, you will obtain $90,000 instead.
The Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Florida
While you may be able to file a personal injury claim for passenger injuries in a car accident, you can only do so within a specific timeframe. This limited window of time is known as “the statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations imposes a time limit to all personal injury claims to promote filing lawsuits on time, to avoid perpetuating liability. In Florida, car accident victims have up to four years from the moment of the accident to file their claim with the court.
Four years may seem like a long time to file your claim. However, filing your lawsuit and going through the entire personal injury process can take longer. Additionally, you will need to gather evidence and prepare your case for trial. This can be a time-consuming process requiring your undivided attention. It is essential to file your claim on time. Otherwise, you may risk your chances of obtaining compensation. Your Boca Raton car wreck lawyer can help you understand your rights and what your best choice can be following your accident.
Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer Offering Free Consultations to Injured Passengers
Being involved in a car accident can be scary, traumatizing, and painful. The consequences of a crash can affect you and your family. However, you don’t have to face this moment of your life alone. Our Boca Raton personal injury lawyer at Schwechter Law Group understand the difficulties associated with your car accident and how it can affect your life. That is why we dedicate our efforts to protecting and upholding your rights. We will fight tirelessly and aggressively to get you the compensation you deserve after your accident. To learn about all of our services and schedule a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (561) 935-9243.