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What if I’m a Passenger in a Wreck?

If you are a passenger in a car truck, or on a motorcycle involved in an accident, you have several options under which to file an injury claim. If the driver responsible for causing the accident has bodily injury coverage (liability coverage for the bodily injury of others), then you can file a claim under that insurance coverage. If the owner of the vehicle responsible for causing the accident has bodily injury coverage, you can also make a claim under that coverage (there are many cases where the driver of the vehicle at fault and the owner of the vehicle at fault are different people, or one is a person and one is a business.) Make sure that at the scene of the accident, the police are called and an accident report is drafted.

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Our Orlando Auto Accident Lawyers can help you file your claim…

If the driver of the vehicle you were in or motorcycle you were on carries bodily injury insurance coverage, and was at least partially responsible for causing the accident, you can also bring a claim pursuant to that coverage. You can also bring a claim against the owner of the vehicle you were in, if a different person or entity, for your damages, if your driver was at least partially at fault.

Florida law does not require any drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage, so it could be that there is no such coverage available if you are in an accident. Sometimes there is some coverage available, but the total is insufficient to make you whole from your injuries. In such cases, it is important to see if there is uninsured motorist coverage that is available for use.

No Windfalls or Double Recovery is Allowed

No matter how many lines of insurance coverage are available to you as the passenger in a car accident, you cannot recover more than the total value of your claim (the total amount of your damages). You can, however, seek coverage from a second driver or owner if the first does not have sufficient insurance coverage for your claim, and you can keep doing so until you have collected all of your damages. You can even collect against somebody minimally at fault, since you were at no fault, as the passenger.

By way of example, assume you are a passenger in Vehicle A, and an accident occurs with Vehicle B. Vehicle B is 85 percent at fault, and Vehicle A, in which you are a passenger, is 15 percent at fault. Your damages total $50,000, but the driver and owner of Vehicle B has $35,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage. After you receive the coverage limits from the insurer for Vehicle B, you can seek your remaining damages from the insurer for Vehicle A.

You Can Use Your Own Coverage in Some Cases

If you have been injured as a passenger in a car accident, you can also file a claim under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage provided under your own driver or owner automobile insurance policy. You can also file a claim under your Medical Payments coverage (Med Pay), if you have it. PIP and Med Pay are not based on liability or fault, so no negotiations or discussions with other insurers about who was at fault is necessary to access these coverages. Both of these types of coverage are limited, however. Neither PIP nor Med Pay include coverage for pain and suffering, or for anything outside of medical bills (there is some lost wage coverage, up to 60 percent, available under PIP coverage).

If you make a claim under your PIP coverage, and later receive compensation for your personal injuries from another insurer under a liability policy, you are not required to pay the PIP insurance back. If you collect under Med Pay and later receive compensation under a liability policy, the Med Pay insurance might have the right to be paid back. Your health insurance company might also have the right to be repaid out of any recovery you receive under a liability policy.

General Guidelines for Those Injured as Passengers in an Accident  

Never sign any papers before consulting an attorney. If you do accept a settlement, you are accepting it for all injuries, known and unknown. That means even if you discover your injuries are more severe down the road, the insurance company will not owe you another dime if you sign a release. You will be encouraged to sign a release with various levels of assertiveness by the involved insurance adjusters. It is always best to seek legal counsel first, especially if you are unsure of the severity of your injuries and the value of your claim.

The insurance company may request to take your recorded statement immediately after the accident. The stated reason is for accuracy purposes, but anything you say will be used against you if possible in a later claim. For this reason, it is not a good idea to agree to this without discussing it first with a Orlando Auto Accident Attorney.

Worried About Filing a Claim or Suit Against a Friend or Relative?

Even after a serious accident, when a person is facing massive medical bills and may not be able to work for extended periods of time, the last thing most people ever want to do is sue a friend or family member. The good news is, most likely you will never have to do that. Even if you do bring a claim against your friend or family member, it is not them who will pay for your personal injuries. The insurance company is the party that pays for your injuries.

It is completely understandable that you do not what to make a friend or relative suffer with higher insurance premiums. However, their premium is going up whether you make a claim or not, if your friend or relative is the party responsible for causing the accident. If not, you will be able to first file against the at-fault party’s insurance company, and hopefully all of your damages can be paid without seeking it against the policy of a friend or relative.

In almost all cases, you cannot seek coverage under the bodily injury liability coverage of the driver of a car you are riding in if you live with the driver and are related to the driver. This is because you are an insured person under that policy, and an insured cannot file a liability claim under their own liability policy.

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