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.
How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Get?
Wondering how much you can get if you are a passenger in a car accident? The amount of compensation a car accident passenger can expect is subject to the outcome of negotiations and the specific details of the case. However, your personal injury attorney may provide insight as to what damages you may be eligible to recover in your lawsuit. According to the car accident passenger settlement examples listed on this page, the typical Florida car accident passenger settlement is anywhere from $350,000 to $1,600,000. Settlements depend greatly on the unique circumstances of each case which is why there is no accurate average settlement amount for car accident passengers in Florida.
Recent Car Accident Passenger Settlement and Amount Examples
In these recent examples of car accident passenger settlement cases, here’s how much we were able to recover for victims. The unique circumstances of each case play a significant role in determining settlements, which is why it is important to contact us today to learn how we can help.
$1,600,000/Auto Accident/Head on Collision/Broken Pelvis/Broken Leg/Neck Fracture/Neck Pain/Closed Head Injury/2021
Our client was a back seat passenger in a vehicle when the driver made an illegal left-hand turn violating the right of way of an approaching vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. This resulted in a head on collision.
Our client was rushed to the emergency room via helicopter and treated for a broken pelvis, broken leg, neck fracture, neck pain and a closed head injury with a brain bleed. The client had surgeries to repair the broken pelvis and leg injuries and conservative treatment and rehabilitation to recover from the injury to the brain.
A demand was presented to the defendant’s insurance company. The initial offer was only $300,000. That offer was rejected.
A suit was filed immediately after receiving such a low offer. Depositions of the defendant driver, witnesses, and our client’s treating doctors were taken. Our client submitted to examinations by physicians hired by the defendant’s insurance company. One of these physicians confirmed our client had a closed head injury that was permanent.
The defendant’s insurance company offered $500,000 shortly after the suit was filed. That offer was rejected. The defendant’s insurance company offered $750,000 to settle the case at a mediation conference. The offer was rejected.
After the case progressed further through the lengthy litigation process the case eventually settled for 1.6 million dollars closer to the trial date.
$500,000/Auto Accident/Read End/Neck/Cervical Herniations/Steroid Injections/Multi-level Cervical Fusion
Our client was a passenger in a vehicle when the defendant slammed into the rear of their stopped vehicle causing them to be pushed into the vehicle in front of them. Our client, 21 years old at the time, was taken to the ER, and then began treatment. An MRI scan revealed herniations in the neck and back, and she later underwent steroid injections and multi-level cervical spine surgery.
A demand was presented to the defendant’s driver’s insurance company. The defendant’s insurance company merely offered $55,000 to settle the claim. The defendant’s insurance company claimed that the vehicle the client was riding in as a passenger struck the vehicle ahead of it first causing the vehicle to make a quick, sudden, and unexpected stop thereby causing the defendant to collide with the rear of the vehicle the plaintiff was riding in as a passenger. This outrageously low ball offer was quickly rejected.
A civil suit was filed. Lengthy depositions of the driver our client was riding in as a passenger, the deposition of the driver in the vehicle ahead of our client and witnesses were taken establishing that the defendant driver was fully at fault for causing the accident.
After the plaintiff’s surgery and prior to mediation, the defendant made an offer of $225,000 to settle the case. That offer was promptly rejected. A mediation conference took place. Our office hired a life care planner to provide a detailed outline of the plaintiff’s future medical care expenses for the rest of her life expectancy. A powerful power point presentation outlining the results of the accident investigation, the plaintiff’s medical attention and treatment/surgery, and her future medical expenses were presented to the insurance claim representative. After several hours of ongoing settlement negotiations, the insurance company finally became convinced the case had considerable value and agreed to pay $500,000 for full and final settlement of all claims.
$350,000/Auto Accident/Rear Ended/Sciatica with RFA
Our client was riding as a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended. The defendant was driving a commercial vehicle and, in the course, and scope of his employment. Our client was 46 years old with no prior neck injury. An MRI of her neck revealed multi-level cervical disc herniations. After failing conservative treatment, she underwent a recommended multi-level cervical fusion.
The insurance company merely offered $15,500 to settle the case prior to the mediation. Suit was filed and litigated. The defendant claimed that the client’s husband was partially at fault for causing the accident. Depositions of the client’s husband and the defendant were taken. The depositions clearly revealed that the defendant was solely at fault for causing the accident.
The defendant increased their offer to $275,000 at the mediation settlement conference. That offer was rejected, and the case proceeded forward to trial. The defendant took the deposition of our client’s neck surgeon prior to trial. Our office cross-examined the surgeon, who did an excellent job during the deposition explaining how the plaintiff’s injuries were related to the accident, were acute and not degenerative and outlined future medical procedures she would require, with reasonable certainty, for the rest of her life expectancy.
After fighting zealously to establish the defendant was fully at fault for causing the accident and presenting a mountain of evidence to the insurance company that the defendant’s negligence led to our client’s need for neck surgery that would likely cause her to future medical expenses, the insurance company begrudgingly agreed to pay plaintiff’s demand of $350,000.
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. Learn more about our recent Florida car accident settlements and broken rib settlement amounts.