Over 9.1 million vehicles were in accidents in 2020, equal to 24,898 vehicles daily. While some of the 2.82 million people injured in car wrecks that year experienced minor injuries, others suffered severe, life-changing injuries.
You may be in shock while waiting for medical treatment and a diagnosis. You may also need to find out who was at fault for the accident. If you’re wondering if a passenger can seek damages and if you can file a lawsuit as a passenger in a car accident, you may also want to know how much you can get from your claim. Learning about your rights and what factors affect the damages you can seek can put your mind at ease and assure you how you’ll benefit from hiring a car accident lawyer after an accident.
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Factors affecting judgments
Several factors affect the amount of compensation accident victims receive, including the severity of their injuries, the cause of the accident, and whether they have property damage claims.
The extent of the injury matters
Accident victims can seek monetary and non-monetary damages. It doesn’t matter if you’re a driver or a passenger; anyone who was injured in an accident might be able to seek damages. The severity of your injury determines how much monetary and non-monetary damages you can pursue.
Monetary damages: Monetary damages are compensation for bills you’ve had to pay or can expect to pay because of your injuries. This amount is calculated by adding up relevant expenses. Relevant expenses include things like medical bills and lost income. If you’re still receiving treatment, your car accident lawyer can help determine your anticipated expenses and losses to compensate for future lost income and medical care.
- Since the monetary damages stem from accident-related costs, someone with severe injuries will receive a higher figure than someone with minor injuries because of higher medical bills. Personal responsibilities also affect this amount because a person responsible for caring for an aging parent or minor children may need to hire caregivers while they recover.
Non-monetary damages: Non-monetary damages are harder to calculate because they compensate for how an accident victim’s injuries affect their life. SCIs can cause paralysis, so a spinal cord injury victim may be unable to be intimate with their partner or have children. A person whose injuries cause severe scarring or result in amputation could experience a loss of social and professional opportunities. Some of the things you can seek non-monetary damages for include the following:
- Loss of intimacy
- Pain and suffering
Causes of the accident
There are several reasons accidents occur. Some of the most common include the following:
- Driver error: The most common reason car accidents occur involves driver error. Also called driver negligence, driver error occurs when a driver inadvertently or intentionally does something that jeopardizes their safety and the safety of others. Everyday activities — such as eating while driving — cause distracted driving accidents. Speeding and tailgating are other examples of driver error.
- Gross negligence: Proving negligence is crucial to any injury lawsuit because a person’s negligence demonstrates they failed to act in a reasonable manner that would ensure your safety. In some cases, individuals decide to engage in reckless behavior. They may intend to harm someone or ignore the possibility of causing harm and engage in unsafe behavior anyway. An example of gross negligence would be street racing.
- Mechanical failure: Manufacturers recalled 39 million vehicles in 2019. Recalled vehicles have identified safety risks; however, things can still go wrong with the millions of other vehicles on the road. Blown tires, faulty brakes, and engine failure are examples of mechanical issues that could cause accidents.
- Road conditions: Road damage and bad weather can cause car wrecks. Heavy rains can cause flash flooding, causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Tires can lose traction on snow and ice, causing vehicles to slide on roadways, increasing the risk of hitting an object or vehicle or sliding off the road.
The accident’s cause affects the potential damages from a lawsuit because it determines the driver’s liability. Drivers are liable for negligence causing accidents. However, a vehicle manufacturer or a mechanic may be liable for mechanical failure causing an accident.
Some accident victims can seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to monetary and non-monetary damages so accident victims may receive more compensation in these cases.
Property damage is a factor
Suppose you’re carpooling to work. You’re carrying several electronic devices, including a personal laptop, tablet, and smartphone.
You’re in an accident that causes injuries and destroys personal property, including your electronic devices. Your compensation can include reimbursement for replacing these devices, which would affect the monetary damages sought in your case.
Common injuries to passengers in a car accident
Car accident injuries can impact any part of your body. Common injuries include the following:
- Bone and joint injuries: Bone and joint injuries include broken bones. Severely broken bones can impact long-term mobility and cause permanent damage.
- Internal injuries: Internal injuries include bleeding or bruised organs. Depending on the severity, internal injuries can be life-threatening.
- Soft tissue injuries: Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury affecting your neck. Severe whiplash cases can cause permanent damage.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs): SCIs include damage to the discs, nerves, and vertebrae in your spinal column
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): TBIs include concussions and permanent brain damage
How does Florida’s no-fault law affect how much can be recovered?
Florida has a no-fault law in place, which can be confusing. This law doesn’t mean that the police won’t assign blame for the accident or press charges against a driver who broke the law. Insurance companies will investigate to determine who’s liable, and car accident victims can seek compensation.
Does insurance cover injured passengers?
Florida’s no-fault law requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. The minimum required coverage is $10,000, which provides compensation for medical expenses and lost income. Accident victims can seek compensation for costs exceeding $10,000.
PIP insurance covers passengers injured in an accident. Passengers may have to fight for compensation if riding with or injured by an uninsured driver. Uninsured drivers can be charged, and you can seek compensation through a lawsuit; however, you may have to take extra steps to recover your judgment, such as filing to garnish their wages and placing liens against their property until they pay the damages owed.
The average settlement for a car accident passenger
Although it’s possible to calculate the average settlement for car accident passenger claims for any year, the average amount can significantly vary from year to year. While the 2020 average claim amount was just over $20,000, some accident victims could receive 10 or 20 times that amount.
Each case is unique, and its factors determine the amount of compensation victims receive. Those with severe injuries need more time off work and medical treatments. Additionally, those with property damage claims can seek higher compensation amounts, and the reason for the accident could justify additional punitive damages.
Whether an accident victim settles or seeks a judgment is another factor affecting the compensation they receive. Insurance companies pay injury claims and may settle the case to avoid court fees or a higher judgment after a trial. In these cases, injury victims may accept the settlement offer so they don’t have to deal with a prolonged legal battle.
Who pays in a passenger car accident settlement?
The at-fault driver’s insurance company pays the settlement. However, if more than one person was at fault, Florida’s comparative negligence laws apply.
Comparative negligence laws require all parties responsible to share costs after an accident. Suppose there were four drivers involved in your accident. The person driving the vehicle you were in is the only party who wasn’t at fault. In that case, the other three drivers would share the cost of your settlement based on their percentage of fault. If an accident investigation determined one driver was 50% at fault, their insurance would cover 50% of the settlement or judgment.
What if a family member or friend was at fault?
You must seek compensation from the at-fault party to recover damages after an accident. Pursuing legal action can be complicated if the person responsible was a relative or friend; however, if they caused the accident, they are liable for your expenses. You have a legal right to seek compensation from their insurance company, even if you feel pressured to forgo legal action for personal reasons.
How long do car accident settlements take?
Every car accident claim is different. Some insurance companies attempt to resolve claims through settlement negotiations to avoid court costs. Other insurance companies refuse to settle claims.
It can take longer to settle a claim if there are multiple at-fault parties because these parties may dispute their share of responsibility. Each insurance company may investigate the accident to reduce their client’s liability, extending the time to negotiate a settlement.
You can expect it to take months to resolve your claim through a negotiated settlement. However, it can take years to receive a judgment following a trial. Defendants can also appeal after a trial, making you wait longer to receive compensation.
How can a car accident attorney help me?
Most people lack the resources to investigate car crashes, even if they are victims. Car accident laws are also complex, and if you aren’t familiar with the legal system, you may not realize how much compensation you deserve.
Car accident attorneys know how to investigate accidents and gather evidence. These attorneys have practical experience preparing legal arguments, and they’re familiar with relevant laws and case precedents they can use to support your claim.
The legal team at Bernstein & Maryanoff will provide a free consultation. You can call us from the accident scene and receive prompt legal guidance. We can help you avoid issues at the accident scene, and we can start investigating immediately, making it easier to locate witnesses and evidence.
You have enough to deal with after an accident, and we ensure legal fees don’t add to your worries. We only charge legal fees once you receive a settlement or judgment. We’ll use all our resources to advocate for your rights until you receive compensation for your injuries.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
Turn to the experts at Bernstein & Maryanoff to discuss your car accident injury claim today.
Carlier, M. (2022). Car and equipment recalls in the United States 2009-2019.
Gross Negligence. (2023).
Nunez, K. (2020). What Are the Largest Organs in Your Body?
About the Author
Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.
Jack Bernstein is a hard-working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you’ve been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.