A car accident is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a person. Indeed, different kinds of accidents can cause various levels of trauma. Witnessing the scene of an accident can be traumatic, let alone being involved in one. Being a passenger in a car accident can be scary because one can only sit and wish to survive the accident.
It is worse when someone else’s negligence causes the accident. Then, after surviving a traumatic accident, the passenger will have to fight for compensation in court or with insurance companies. If your injury occurred in St. Petersburg, a St. Petersburg passenger accident lawyer can guide you through the process.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Statistics,
- Approximately 200,000 car crashes are recorded in Florida every year
- In 2019, there were over 401,867 reported car accident crashes- leading to 254,816 injuries and 3,185 recorded fatalities
You May Sue
As an injured passenger in a St. Petersburg car accident, you can file a passenger accident lawsuit against the negligent driver. A passenger accident lawsuit is also similar to a driver accident lawsuit. In addition, there are personal injury claims where the injured party can recover compensation in damages for injuries sustained and troubles encountered.
When considering what to do next after a passenger accident, you may decide to take a legal step, meaning you commence a personal injury claim against the person whose action caused the injury you have suffered. For example, you might sue the negligent driver if their careless driving caused your accident. Another person, aside from the negligent driver, can be held liable. For example, the vehicle manufacturer can also be held responsible.
You May Not Sue
An injured passenger may also decide not to sue. Not suing is popular where the driver is also a relative or friend. Most Florida insurance policies do not allow an injured passenger to sue a resident relative. A resident relative is a relative who lives with you.
You can, however, sue a relative who is not a resident. Non-resident relatives include an extended or distant family member, a friend, or a colleague at work who’s wrong or negligent action caused the harm you have suffered.
When Comparative Negligence Arises
Comparative negligence will arise when the injured party is partially at fault for the accident and sustained injury. It is not frequent for a passenger to be at fault or partly contribute to the accident. The law presumes that the responsibility lies with the person controlling the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning the passenger cannot claim all the money demanded as compensation because, like the negligent driver or manufacturer, they also contributed to the accident.
An example of comparative negligence in a passenger accident claim is where the passenger distracted the driver while driving. Another example is where the passenger contested control of the steering wheel with the driver; such an act can amount to comparative negligence on the passenger’s part. Where comparative negligence can be proved, compensation is reduced by the percentage at which the passenger is at fault. Therefore, if the passenger is ten or twenty percent at fault, the compensation will be reduced by ten or fifteen percent.
The Role of a Passenger Accident Lawyer
As a passenger in a car accident, you should get the expert help of an attorney in representing your case and claiming adequate compensation. Sadly, your insurance companies may not give you the necessary support you deserve. Nor will the negligent party’s insurance company be willing to part with their resources without a fight. But your passenger injury lawyer is there to fight for you.
You do not want to embark on this journey alone or with information you gleaned from the internet. Instead, it would help if you had a skilled passenger lawyer to guide you on the processes and procedures.
The role of your passenger accident lawyer will include gathering facts that will strengthen your case. They will help you review the facts of your case, conduct an independent investigation of the circumstances of the case, negotiate with the insurance company, build a case around the points and help to try to recover the compensation you deserve.
What to do if you are Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident
The steps you take soon after are imperative if you are injured as a passenger in a car accident. One of the first things to do after a car accident is to call local law enforcement, the police.
Call the Local Law Enforcement
The Florida Statute 316.065 makes it essential to contact the local police station after a crash. The section provides
The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of at least $500 shall immediately by the quickest means of communication, give notice of the crash to the local police department, if such crash occurs within a municipality; otherwise, to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol. A violation of this subsection is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
Another option available to report the accident is to complete the Driver Report of Traffic Crash (Self Report)” or “Driver Exchange of Information.” The form is also available for download at https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/.
Collect the details of the other party
After a passenger car accident, you should not leave the scene without collecting the other party’s details. You should ascertain the identity of the other party. Request the name(s), phone numbers, insurance company name, and driving license details. Only three persons can request insurance coverage details under the Florida Statute. These are
- The person involved in the crash
- Their attorney; or
- A representative of the insurer of anyone involved in the crash.
Take pictures with your mobile phone or any other device that can. Photos from different angles help your attorney and anyone investigating ascertain the circumstances that led to the accident.
Accidents differ in facts. The facts and circumstances of one passenger accident will invariably be different from another passenger accident. So you should document all that you think will be necessary. Write out what led to the accident and what you remember happened afterward. Write down the place where the accident occurred, the time of the day, and the weather conditions. Document as much as you can.
Visit the Hospital
Consider going to the hospital before going home. Preferably, you should seek medical attention within the first few hours of the accident.
Also, a personal physical inspection of your body is not enough because not all injuries are visible with the eyes. Some injuries can also be internal, and only a medical scan can reveal them. In Florida, a person who sustained an injury in a car accident must seek medical care for PIP claims within 14 days of the accident.
Contact your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company and inform them that you have been involved as a passenger in a car accident. When your insurance company wants to know the details of your accident, you should refer them to your attorney, who can help you present the facts.
Contact a Passenger Accident Lawyer
Contact a skilled passenger accident lawyer in St. Petersburg to represent your case.
If you have recently been a passenger in a car accident in St. Petersburg, the Coleman Law Group has experienced lawyers to help. You can reach out to our attorneys anytime.
We will not charge any amount to evaluate your accidental case and assist you throughout the legal process. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 727-214-0400!