The Rights of Injured Passengers in Car Accidents August 12, 2018 Hundreds of thousands of injuries are sustained in accidents in Florida each year with many of those accidents resulting in injuries to passengers. If you were a passenger injured in an accident that you believe was caused by someone else’s negligent actions, you have the right to seek compensation for the losses you’ve suffered. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., our experienced auto accident attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you determine the strength of your case. Read on to learn more about the rights of passengers injured in accidents. Responsibilities in an accident. When a driver of a vehicle is injured in an accident that involves negligence, the driver of the other vehicle is often held liable. When a passenger is injured in such an accident, however, the liable party may be the driver of the other car or cars, or it may be the driver of the car in which the passenger was riding. In general, the driver of any vehicle has a responsibility to the passengers in his or her vehicle to operate the car in a reasonable way. This means obeying traffic laws, driving safely and not taking risks that put passengers in danger. A driver who does put his or her passengers at risk may be found liable for an accident, as well as the owner of the vehicle if the driver doesn’t own the car. In addition, even more parties may be held responsible in some way if you were injured in an accident involving a truck, bus, taxi or other commercial vehicle, or one operated by a ride service such as Uber. Passengers do have some responsibilities as well, including using seat belts and not riding in a vehicle being operated by an impaired driver. Checklist: What to do if you’ve been injured in an accident. Determining who is at fault in an accident is not always straightforward and may become even more challenging as time goes by. That’s why—after calling the police and seeking medical attention— it’s important to take certain steps in the aftermath of the accident that can help your personal injury attorney build your case. These include: ▢ Obtaining the names and contact information of all drivers involved in the accident ▢ Getting insurance information for all vehicles involved in the accident ▢ Gathering contact information for all witnesses ▢ Taking photos and/or videos of the vehicles, objects at the scene, the surrounding roads and area, and, all property damage ▢ Noting the name, badge number, and station of the responding officer ▢ Not admitting fault until you have consulted an accident attorney ▢ Delaying communications with insurance companies ▢ Delaying accepting a settlement offered by an insurance company until you have consulted an attorney As soon after the accident as you have time to do so, write down as many details as you can recall, including: ▢ Traffic conditions ▢ Weather conditions ▢ Road conditions ▢ Description of how the accident occurred ▢ Descriptions of damage and injuries ▢ What actions law enforcement and emergency responders took on the scene In the following days and weeks, make note of: ▢ The names and contact information of any insurance claims adjusters or investigators who contact you ▢ The dates and times you speak to insurance company representatives and a description of what was discussed ▢ All costs you incur, such as bills related to medical care Damages passengers may be able to recover. When a car accident or other type of vehicular accident was caused by someone’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensatory damages. These damages may include: Loss of income: Severe injuries can have far-reaching and long-term effects on your ability to earn a living and support yourself and your family. You may be able to recover compensation for wages or salary you lost in the immediate aftermath of your accident, as well as income you may be expected to lose in the future. The expert accident lawyers at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., know how to calculate your expected losses as we determine their true costs to you. Medical care: In addition to the costs of immediate emergency care, hospitalization and treatment that you’ve incurred, your compensatory damages may also include the medical- and health-related care you may need in the future. Medical care includes care from physicians, physical therapies, medications, assistive devices, and more. Loss of property: If you had property that was damaged or destroyed by your accident, you may be entitled to compensation to replace or repair it. Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries prevent you from enjoying daily interests and activities, you may be able to receive compensation for this non-economic loss. Pain and suffering: As with loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering is a non-economic loss. This category includes mental or emotional distress you are suffering as a result of your injury, as well as physical discomfort or pain. Vehicle accident FAQ. Q: How can an accident attorney help me? A: Whether you were a passenger injured in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident or other traffic accident, our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you and will work to protect your rights under the law. Depending upon the circumstances of your accident and the nature of your injuries, the process of handling your case can be complex. In general, however, an expert personal injury attorney will conduct a medical and liability investigation, use its resources and experience to determine the amount of compensation you deserve, manage negotiations with insurance companies, and, if necessary, represent you in a trial. Q: What should I do if the driver of the car I was in was a family member or friend? A: Keep in mind that when you file a claim, that claim is being filed with the driver’s insurance company and not the driver. Seeking compensation to which you have a legal right should not be considered as harm to your friend or family member. We understand, however, that such a situation can be difficult for our clients, and will handle your case with the utmost discretion. Q: At what point should I consult an accident lawyer? A: The simple answer is that you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been injured in an accident. It’s important to take prompt action for several reasons, including: Insurance company representatives will likely contact you quickly in order to offer you a settlement, which is often less than you deserve. Having an attorney on your side to manage negotiations from the beginning may help ensure you receive an amount of compensation for the full range of your losses. In the days and weeks after an accident, witnesses’ memories can fade and critical evidence may be lost. Our accident attorneys are experts in gathering and preserving evidence and reconstructing the circumstances of accidents. The sooner this can be done, the stronger your case may be. There are laws in Florida that limit the timeframe in which an accident claim may be made. Even if you believe your injuries are not severe, you should consult an attorney, since some injuries are not immediately apparent until delayed symptoms appear. Q: What amount of compensation can I receive? A: There’s no one answer to this question because each of our clients’ accidents and injuries are different. Factors that may affect a compensation amount range from the severity of an injury, which types of damages are being sought, the number of parties involved, and much more. We encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our passenger injury lawyers, who can explain this in further detail. Q: How much will it cost me to have you represent me? A: As most personal injury law firms do, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing unless we recover compensation on your behalf. If we do, our fees come from that compensation. Q: How long does it take for a personal injury case to reach a conclusion? A: Some claims may be settled in a timely fashion while others, particularly those that lead to litigation, can take many months or more. The same factors that influence the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled are involved in how long it takes to resolve your case, such as the types of losses you’ve sustained and how many parties were involved in your accident. Schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. Insurance company representatives can be aggressive in their attempts to get you to accept the first settlement offer they make, but you never have to face big insurance companies alone if you have an auto accident attorney at your side. If you sustained injuries in an accident in which you were a passenger, Harrell & Harrell, P.A., is here to help. We offer absolutely free, no-obligation consultations to discuss your case and help you determine your best course of action. Call us today at 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111 or contact us by completing the form at the top of this page to get in touch.