When driving any vehicle, the driver is responsible for his passengers. This includes making sure that each passenger is wearing a seatbelt while in his vehicle.
For example, according to Florida Statutes § 316.614 (otherwise known as the Florida Safety Belt Law), “it is unlawful for any person 18 years of age or older to be a passenger in the front seat of a motor vehicle or an autocycle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt when the vehicle or autocycle is in motion.”
Florida law states that a driver who has passengers in his vehicle should act with reasonable care for the safety of all passengers.
If a driver acts negligently behind the wheel, and this negligence causes a car accident, the passengers in the vehicle may make a claim against the driver if they have any type of injury as a result of the accident. Like many other states, Florida Statutes § Chapter 768 puts liability on the driver since the driver is responsible for his passengers.
Passengers may also make a claim against the owner of the vehicle for allowing a negligent driver to operate his vehicle.
Determining Liability When the Driver Is Responsible for His Passengers
In any car accident, investigators must determine liability. The person who holds liability for the accident may also hold responsibility for covering any injury or personal property claim that results from the accident. In many cases involving a car crash with passengers, the driver is responsible for his passengers—including their injuries. However, every car accident differs. Sometimes, both drivers may share fault for the accident. In this case, a passenger may pursue compensation from the insurers of both drivers.
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Accidents Involving Only One Car
If you drive a vehicle and hit an inanimate object, investigators will find you liable for the accident. In these cases, your passenger may make a claim with your insurance company. If your insurer approves the claim, your insurance company will pay awards to your passenger. The awards may include the cost of lost wages, pain and suffering, and all medical expenses.
If you prove liability in a car accident, your insurance premiums may increase as a result of the claim. Some insurance policies offer forgiveness for your first accident. Each insurance policy differs, so understanding your own policy before you invite people into your car may be helpful.
If you experience a crash with one or more vehicles, at least one driver or more will bear liability. Investigators may find one party entirely at fault. In some states, drivers may hold liability for a certain percentage of the accident. For example, investigators may find one driver 30 percent liable and the other 70 percent liable.
Passengers in the vehicle that you drive or inside the other vehicle involved in the crash may file claims with the drivers who are found to be at fault for the accident. Many state laws say that drivers hold responsibility for anyone they allow in their car.
Your passenger may recoup awards from each insurance company according to the degree of fault. If you are only partially at fault, your passenger will receive an award based on your percentage of fault and the other driver’s percentage of fault.
Some states qualify as no-fault states. In these states, the passenger may only file a claim with their driver’s insurance policy. Exceptions to this rule may apply if the injuries your passenger sustains meet a specific threshold.
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When Family Members Ride as Passengers
If your passenger is someone who lives with you (such as your child or your spouse) and they are injured while you are driving, they will not be able to file a claim with your insurance company. Most states will see a married couple as a single entity.
Most insurance companies also have clauses that do not allow family members living in a household to make a claim with your liability insurance after an accident. This is because a liability claim may result in fraud. If a spouse is allowed to sue their partner, there could be collaboration involved as a way to get money from their insurance policy.
Legal Help for Drivers and Passengers
If you experience a car accident that results in injuries to your passengers, an attorney may help you through the entire claims process. Many different laws regarding vehicle accidents exist, and as a driver, you want to make sure you protect your rights.
Personal injury claims involving passengers of a vehicle can escalate quickly, and legal representation may help you after your car accident. Additionally, you may want to file a personal injury claim against the other driver if their negligence on the road led to you suffering injuries of your own.
Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC at 800-598-7557 to discuss your car accident and personal injury claims. When you call us, we will discuss your case with you and answer all of your questions about your rights as a passenger in a vehicle. We work on a contingency basis, meaning we charge you nothing up front or out of pocket. We only collect payment if we secure awards in your favor.