As a passenger in an auto accident, you may face similar or even more severe injuries than the driver. You could require emergency medical care, surgeries, therapy, and more as part of your recovery, which can lead to hefty medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. The good news is that you are eligible to recover damages from the driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, your own PIP insurance, or the insurance of a family member with PIP coverage. However, determining how to file a claim and get your damages covered can be difficult and confusing. An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your unique case and help you decide on your next steps to receive the maximum compensation for your losses.
How Does PIP Insurance Work for Passengers?
Because Florida is a no-fault state, claims for a driver’s financial losses such as medical expenses and lost wages are covered by the driver’s PIP insurance. PIP insurance limits how much it will pay out per accident and the limit is shared among all occupants of a vehicle. The minimum coverage required by law is $10,000, which covers 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost wages of all injured individuals, up to the limit.
As a passenger in a vehicle, it can become complicated to figure out where to file your claim. Some scenarios can include:
- If you are a member of the driver’s household: You can file a claim with their PIP.
- If the driver was a friend and you have PIP insurance: You can file a claim with your own insurance.
- If the driver was a friend and you do not have PIP insurance: You may be eligible to file under a family member’s PIP, even if they weren’t in the crash.
- If the driver was a friend and neither you nor your family have PIP insurance: You may be able to file against your friend’s insurance.
- If you were riding in a taxi: They carry $250,000 of PIP insurance, and you can file a claim against it.
As you can see, the legal situation can get confusing very quickly for passengers in a crash. It is highly recommended to consult a lawyer to understand your options. In many cases, the PIP claim must be filed within 14 days of the accident, so time is of the essence.
What if I Have Serious Injuries?
Serious injuries can rapidly exceed the $10,000 PIP limit for expenses. The only way to be able to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is by surpassing the no-fault threshold. For this to occur, the injuries must be deemed medically permanent. While this classification is up for interpretation in many instances, under the legal guidelines, the injuries should meet one of these criteria:
- Involve a significant and permanent loss of a necessary bodily function
- Be deemed permanent by a doctor’s diagnosis
- Cause substantial disfigurement or scarring
- Result in the victim’s death
If your injuries exceed the no-fault threshold, you may take the other driver to court for damages, including economic losses such as medical bills and property damage, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?
You are within your rights as a passenger to seek compensation for your injuries, and you should. However, recovering damages from PIP insurance can be a stressful, convoluted process. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you file your claim correctly to get the maximum recovery for your expenses. However, it is vital to contact a lawyer quickly because your window for filing a claim can be incredibly short.
If you have suffered serious, permanent injuries, filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for your myriad medical expenses may help you get back on your feet again. A skilled car accident attorney can provide a free consultation on your case to answer any of your questions: 305-692-0125