How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Receive in Ocala, FL?
Bill Allen | May 13, 2023 | Car Accidents
It is impossible to determine exactly how much money you can receive from an Ocala, Florida, car accident without knowing the details of your claim. Even then, forecasting can be difficult. It is possible, however, to explain the factors that determine compensation as a passenger.
Florida’s “No-Fault” System
Florida is one of a dozen states that operate a “no-fault” auto insurance system. This means that if you suffer an injury in a car accident, you can seek compensation from your own Personal injury Protection (PIP) insurance, no matter whose fault the accident was (even your own). But how do you seek compensation for an injury if you are a passenger?
Your Insurance Profile
Your options after an Ocala car accident depend partly on what type of insurance you carry.
If You Have PIP Insurance
Every driver with a car registered in Florida must purchase at least $10,000 in PIP insurance. If you have PIP insurance, it covers you even if you are a passenger. Simply file a claim against your PIP insurance policy. If your losses exceed PIP policy limits, you need to determine if your injuries qualify you to file an ordinary personal injury claim (see below).
If You Don’t Have PIP Insurance
If you don’t have PIP insurance (maybe you don’t drive, for example), you are still covered as long as the driver of the car you were in has PIP insurance. This is true regardless of whether the accident was the driver’s fault or another driver’s fault. If the driver doesn’t have PIP insurance, you might have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
Suing the At-Fault Driver for a “Serious” Injury
You can exit the PIP no-fault system and file an ordinary personal injury claim if your injuries are “serious.” Florida law applies a very specific definition of “serious” that you must meet to file a third-party personal injury claim against an at-fault driver’s insurance company or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Your injuries must fit one of the following descriptions:
- It kills you (thereby paving the way for a wrongful death lawsuit);
- It results in the permanent loss of one of your important bodily functions;
- Your injuries are permanent; or
- You suffer permanent scarring or disfigurement.
If two drivers share fault for the accident, you might have to sue (or file an insurance claim against) both of them to obtain a full recovery.
Florida’s liability insurance problem
Florida is one of only two US states that do not require most of their drivers to purchase auto liability insurance. This oversight could leave you “high and dry” if you suffer a serious injury inflicted by a driver without liability insurance.
Of course, you could always sue the driver in their personal capacity. Even this approach won’t work, however, if the driver lacks the assets to pay your claim. And drivers who can’t afford liability insurance seldom possess the assets to pay a personal injury claim. Certain drivers, however, such as Uber/Lyft drivers, on-duty employees of large companies, and commercial truck drivers, have access to extensive insurance resources.
Types of Damages
In Florida, you can seek compensation for the following types of losses:
- Medical expenses (current and future);
- Lost earnings (current and future);
- Incidental expenses such as child care;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Mental anguish;
- Disfigurement; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, typically amount to more than tangible losses, such as medical expenses. Additionally, your spouse can file a “loss of consortium” claim seeking compensation for their own emotional losses arising from your injuries. Finally, you can also seek punitive damages to punish the defendant for outrageous behavior if applicable.
Hire a Lawyer To Handle Any Complications That May Arise
Despite recent reforms, Florida auto accident law still causes problems that drivers in other states can easily avoid. Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the minefield of Florida personal injury law.
Contact Our Ocala Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida: