What to Do If You Are a Passenger in an Auto Accident?
Accidents happen, and when they do, sometimes people get hurt. We see lots of advice on what to do if you are the driver involved in a car accident in Florida, but what do you do if you are an injured passenger. Some of the advice given to drivers is relevant to you, and other advice may not be.
Anyone injured in a car accident should ascertain their level of injury first and then that of others at the scene. Call emergency services to both report the accident and to make sure that any needed medical help is on the way. When you are able, contact a Sarasota car accident lawyer for legal assistance.
Handling Liability as a Passenger
If you are injured as a passenger, you are entitled to recover for your injuries and any other damages you suffer. These damages can include medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. As a passenger making a claim for damages, your liability issues are somewhat different than a driver’s. Passengers are very rarely at fault. Most of the time, the task for the passenger is determining who to file claims against.
PIP and Florida Law
Florida requires that all Florida insurance companies offer Personal Insurance Protection (PIP). Drivers are required to purchase PIP. PIP allows injured drivers and passengers to recover up to $10,000 in damages without having to prove fault. PIP covers up to 80% of medical costs and up to 60% of lost wages incurred as a result of an accident.
Though we often think of drivers as the beneficiaries of PIP coverage, an injured passenger can also collect damages. A passenger can file against the driver of the vehicle they were traveling in, against the driver or drivers of any other vehicle involved, as well as against their own policy if they have one.
To that end, you may want to obtain a copy of the police report and the names, insurance information, and contact information of the drivers and any other parties and witnesses involved.
Finally, if you (as the passenger) are filing a claim under PIP, you need to know that you must obtain medical care for your injuries within 14 days of the date of the accident. This limitation is to ensure that any condition claimed is actually incurred as a result of the accident.
What to Do if Your Damages are Over $10,000
When your damages exceed the PIP amount, it is possible to file a lawsuit against the driver or drivers involved in the accident. This will allow you to pursue compensation against the culpable party or parties involved. You have more time to file a lawsuit than you do a PIP claim.
Florida’s statute of limitation is four years. That means that if you intend to file a lawsuit against any of the drivers, you must do so within four years of the date of the accident. If you fail to do so, you will be barred from filing a court action against them.
Other Evidence You May Need to Collect
Evidence will be needed to support any claim filed or future lawsuit. Here are some suggestions for evidence you may wish to gather from the accident scene if you are able. With your cell phone camera, try to get pictures of:
- The roadway and any debris on it
- The position of the vehicle or vehicles at rest
- The general surroundings of the accident scene, including traffic signals and stop signs
- The property damage to any other vehicles involved
- Injuries you suffered
- Damage to anything else at the accident scene, including guardrails, concrete barriers, etc.
Anytime you are injured in a car accident, you should bring your questions and concerns to an experienced and compassionate Sarasota accident attorney. An attorney can help you make sense of the process and can help you navigate the claims and litigation process.
Speak with a Sarasota Car Accident Attorney
We at Matthews Injury Law provide thorough and compassionate legal services to our clients. Contact us with your questions and concerns to see what we can do to help you. In Sarasota, call us at 941-877-5800 or fill out our contact form to learn more.