Average Settlement for Passengers in Florida Car AccidentsTrusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. September 28, 2021
A car accident can change your life. But what if you weren’t the driver? After suffering injuries, property damage, and emotional trauma, you may wonder, “What are my rights as a passenger in a car accident?” Your medical bills may be piling up, and it may be difficult, or impossible, to work. The good news is even if you weren’t driving, Florida law entitles passengers to file a lawsuit for damages.
Personal injury lawsuits are complicated. You may feel ready to accept any offer to alleviate your financial and emotional burden. But moving forward doesn’t always mean settling for less than you deserve. A compassionate, but aggressive, personal injury attorney protects your rights to obtain just compensation, so you can focus on your recovery.
What Are My Rights as a Florida Passenger in a Car Accident?
How much money a passenger in a car accident can get depends on multiple factors. But even if you weren’t driving a car involved in a car accident, you can still recover compensation for your injuries. To do this you must file a claim against the responsible party or parties. There may be a number of reasons a driver may be at fault for causing an accident. However, this determination is not always cut and dry.
Unfortunately for passengers in a car accident there is no “magic” settlement calculator to concretely determine how much money you’ll recover.
Although the facts of each person’s case are different, reviewing your case with an attorney may provide a clearer picture as to the value range for your case.
What Factors Affect My Claim?
Various factors affect a personal injury claim. If your case goes to trial, your fate is left to the jury to decide how much your injuries are worth. If your attorney negotiates a settlement for your injuries, you and the liable party agree on a monetary value. Deciding how to move forward depends on discussions with your personal injury attorney and the particular facts of your case.
Florida law requires the following types of insurance coverage:
- A minimum of $10,000 of property damage liability coverage (PDL), and
- A minimum of $10,000 of personal injury coverage (PIP).
It’s generally a good idea to obtain more than the minimum insurance coverage, but many don’t. While $10,000 sounds like a lot of money, it often fails to cover the medical expenses after a car accident.
Passengers in a car accident don’t usually tap into the PDL. This coverage pays for property damage caused to another when you are at fault for the accident. Passengers are rarely at fault for a car accident.
Florida is a “no fault” state when it comes to car accidents. This means that after a car accident, your own PIP insurance pays your medical bills and other financial losses. To some, it may be frustrating to be unable to collect from the driver that caused your injuries. However, Florida’s PIP requirement allows many to recover quickly for their financial losses following a car accident. One downside to PIP coverage is that non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional distress, are not recoverable in an accident not involving serious injury.
Despite its no-fault rules, Florida law does permit you to file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver and recover pain and suffering damages in some circumstances. However, you must meet an “injury threshold.” This “injury threshold” is satisfied if you have one of the following injuries:
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement,
- Significant and permanent loss of an important body function, or
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
Establishing an injury threshold requires a medical evaluation. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly after a car accident.
Even passengers in car accidents must establish liability to recover compensation. This means you must prove that the other driver caused your injuries. Your personal injury attorney works to establish the driver’s responsibility using existing evidence. In most situations, the evidence shows that the driver was negligent. The following elements must be present for a negligence claim:
- The driver owed a duty of care to safely operate their vehicle,
- The driver breached this duty of care, and
- The driver’s breach resulted in your injuries.
The liable party may argue that you were also at fault for causing the accident. If proven, this may reduce the value of your claim. However, you’re unlikely to share fault for the accident if you were not driving the car.
In some situations, the insurance company may push you to agree to a settlement value before you know the extent of your injuries. Your medical injuries may cause significant, long-term issues for which you are unaware until a complete medical evaluation is conducted. While it may be tempting, it’s never advised for a passenger in a car accident to accept the first settlement offer.
Complete medical expenses may be unknown immediately after a car accident in Pinellas Park and may include the following:
- Ambulance transport,
- Emergency department services,
- Medical services,
- Diagnostic testing and lab work,
- Physical therapy,
- Rehabilitation, and
- Follow-up treatments.
Gaining a complete understanding of your medical injuries is crucial to understanding the value of your claim. Therefore, complete all recommended medical treatment as prescribed by your physician.
Ability to Work
Another factor affecting the value of your claim is your ability to work after a car accident. Your injuries may be severe enough to keep you from working or working your job in the same manner you did prior to the car accident.
Lost wages can make up a substantial part of a car accident claim. Keep all records related to your employment. Proof of lost wages and reduced earning capacity are shown through pay stubs and tax returns. Your personal injury attorney then compiles this evidence to create a more accurate value of your claim.
Out-of-pocket expenses may affect possible settlement values. For example, the following out-of-pocket expenses create a significant financial burden for many:
- Cost of transportation to and from medical appointments, and
- Cost of modifications made at home due to injuries.
Keep all receipts of out-of-pocket expenses, as these are used to support your claim.
Impact on Your Life
Non-economic damages are another area of recoverable damages after a car accident. Non-economic damages can’t be accurately assessed by a settlement calculator because of their unique nature. Non-economic damages include those intangible and subjective losses related to your car accident. The mental anguish and emotional impact after a car accident should never be overlooked. These damages often create the most lasting impact on a car accident victim’s life. Non-economic damages include things like:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of ability to enjoy life,
- Loss of companionship, and
If your case goes to trial, non-economic damages are determined by the jury. If you reach a settlement, the amount of your non-economic damages will depend on an estimate of what you would expect the jury to award if you went to trial.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
For over 30 years, the attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have been fighting for the rights of injured victims and their families. We provide all of our clients with attention and compassion after a traumatic event and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you are a passenger that suffered injuries in a car accident, you may have plenty of questions about the value of your case, settlement calculators, and your next steps.
We are here to serve you. Don’t let your financial burden or emotional stress hinder you from moving forward. We stand behind our motto of “No Fees or Costs Unless We Win.” Personal injury cases represent a complex area of law. Don’t go it alone. We litigate and negotiate on your behalf, so you can focus on your recovery.
We are available 24/7, on holidays, weekends, and evenings. Contact our office today for a free consultation and case review.