"Whether it's a whiplash, serious injury or wrongful death case, we pride ourselves on representing you with the personal service and aggressive representation that you expect and deserve!" -Attorney Ron Sholes
Passenger Injuries in Auto Accidents
Filing a Passenger Injury Claim After a Crash
Every year, thousands of Floridians are seriously injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents, and many of these people are not the drivers. According to 2020 data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV), more than 17,000 vehicle passengers suffered confirmed injuries and over 500 died in various types of automobile accidents statewide in the year. Sadly, these statistics are typical; decades-long research has shown that passengers are more likely to be injured or killed in auto accidents than the drivers of the involved vehicles.
If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident or another type of motor vehicle collision, you could be entitled to compensation for your resulting damages. In addition to seeking compensation through the covered driver’s insurance policy, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Your ability to take legal action depends on many factors, including the severity of your injuries.
At The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we recommend that you work with an experienced legal team, like ours. Florida’s car insurance laws are complex, and it can be difficult to navigate the aftermath of a serious accident without the help of a skilled attorney.
Let our attorneys fight for the justice you deserve! Call The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A. at (855) 933-3881 or contact us online to request a free, no-obligation consultation.
Common Types of Passenger Injuries
Studies have shown that passengers may be more at risk of being injured in a motor vehicle accident than drivers. Passengers in the backseat, specifically, have a higher risk of suffering severe bodily injury and death in the event of a collision.
Some of the most common types of passenger injuries in car accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Facial injuries
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Wrist and hand injuries
These injuries can have devastating, long-lasting effects on the lives of victims and their loved ones. At The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we help injured auto accident passengers seek fair compensation for their damages, both through negotiating with insurance companies and representing our clients’ interests in court.
Are Passengers Covered by Drivers’ Insurance?
Florida is one of several states that follows a no-fault car insurance system. Under this system, all drivers must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. This insurance covers the driver, any passengers in the vehicle, and any pedestrians involved in the crash. It also covers the driver’s family members and any children injured in a school bus accident.
This means that, if you are injured as a passenger in a car accident, you can file a claim with the driver’s insurance company and seek compensation for certain covered losses. If you own a car and are insured, you can also file a claim with your own insurance provider and seek compensation through your PIP coverage. Typically, the driver’s PIP insurance will only cover you if you are not otherwise covered.
In Florida, PIP only covers certain accident-related damages. These include:
- 80% of all “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses up to $10,000
- $2,500 in benefits IF your injury is not considered an “emergency”
- 60% of your lost wages/income up to $10,000 (includes certain miscellaneous costs associated with in-home care and services you can no longer perform yourself)
- Up to $5,000 in funeral/burial costs following a fatal accident
Because PIP constitutes “no-fault” coverage, you do not have to prove fault to receive compensation for your damages. In other words, you can file a claim no matter who was at fault for the accident, even if it was the driver of the vehicle in which you were riding. However, if you wish to seek compensation beyond what is covered under PIP, you will need to not only establish fault but also prove that your injuries meet the state’s “serious injury” threshold.
What Is the Serious Injury Threshold?
The “serious injury” threshold refers to the state’s definition of what constitutes a serious injury. When you have suffered a serious injury, you are allowed to go outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. Typically, this will be the person or party that caused the accident.
To be considered a “serious injury” in the state of Florida, an injury must lead to at least one of the following:
- Permanent injury (within a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent loss of a critical bodily function
If you suffered a permanent injury, significant disfigurement, or lost an important bodily function because of a car accident, or if your loved one died due to a crash, you can bring a claim against the liable party’s insurance provider and/or pursue your case in court. We strongly recommend that you reach out to our experienced auto accident attorneys for help with your claim.
Florida’s 14-Day Rule for PIP Claims
In Florida, you must seek medical attention for your injuries within 14 days of a car accident to be eligible for PIP benefits. If you fail to see a doctor or otherwise receive medical care within two weeks of the crash, you cannot recover any compensation for your damages through PIP. This is known as the 14-day rule, and it is extremely important that you follow it.
When it comes to filing a car accident lawsuit in Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to bring your claim in court. If you miss this statute of limitations, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case.
Call Our Passenger Injury Lawyers Today for Help with Your Claim
At The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we have extensive experience helping injured passengers file PIP claims and car accident lawsuits. We understand Florida’s complex insurance laws and personal injury statutes and can guide you through the process. We proudly offer highly personalized legal representation and aggressive client advocacy from a talented and trial-tested team.Get in touch with us today for a free consultation—call (855) 933-3881 or submit a secure case evaluation form to get started.