When You Are A Passenger In A Car Accident – Who Pays The Bills?
Navigating through the water of Florida’s insurance laws can be murky. Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith Partner Glenn Siegel clarifies what to do if you are a passenger who is injured in a motor vehicle accident and who will cover your medical bills.
The first thing you want to do if you are a passenger who is injured in a car accident is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. Any person who is injured in a car accident has 14 days to receive medical treatment, or you are barred from recovering Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance benefits. In Florida, a car accident victim has up to $10,000.00 of PIP benefits available for such medical treatment.
A common misconception is that the person’s insurance for the vehicle who caused the accident should pay for your medical expenses. Pursuant to Florida Statute §627.736(1), if you have your own car insurance, your own insurance will provide PIP coverage, even if you are a passenger in another motor vehicle and even if the driver of the other motor vehicle caused the crash. This is for a good reason. As a “No-Fault” state, Florida’s primary concern is to ensure that your medical bills are covered if you are involved in a car accident, regardless of fault. It is like health insurance for a car accident. If there is a dispute over who caused the accident, Florida No-Fault law is designed to cover your medical expenses regardless of fault. This ensures that you can receive the medical treatment you need without having to worry about trying to prove who caused the accident in order to determine which insurance company is obligated to pay the medical expenses.
If you do not happen to own a motor vehicle required to carry insurance but reside with a resident relative who does, you would then typically be required to seek PIP benefits from your resident relative’s car insurance. I say “typically” because if you are not listed on that insurance policy, the insurance company may claim that there was a material misrepresentation for not providing all of the household members on the insurance application. In that case, it is imperative to review the insurance application carefully. This can muddy the waters even more, but the attorneys at Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith are very experienced in analyzing these situations to determine which insurance the PIP coverage should come from.
If you do not own your own motor vehicle, and do not live with a resident relative who owns a motor vehicle from which you are eligible to receive PIP coverage, then you would look to the third and last remaining option – to receive PIP coverage from the insurance company for the motor vehicle in which you were a passenger.
Very often passengers injured in a motor vehicle accident will insist on filing for PIP benefits with the insurance company for the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident. Unfortunately, Florida law does not give us that option, and the steps above are required to be followed in that specific order to secure PIP coverage. As a passenger, Florida Law No-Fault law dictates that you are not entitled to PIP coverage from the insurance from the other vehicle. (Incidentally, the only instance when you can seek PIP benefits from the other at-fault driver’s insurance is if you are a pedestrian).
If you or someone you know was a passenger involved in a motor vehicle accident, please contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith so we may help you sail smoothly through the insurance issues, and so you can focus on the most important thing – getting the medical treatment you need to feel better.
This blog is written by Partner Glenn Siegel.