Are Passengers Ever At Fault for Car Crashes?

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passenger in car

As a vehicle passenger, you may be at risk of injury if a crash occurs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that in 2021, 5,948 passengers were killed in traffic accidents while riding in cars, light trucks, and SUVs.

If you’re involved in a crash, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. While many passenger injuries are caused by driver negligence, your actions can affect liability for the collision and potentially impact your settlement award.

Know your rights and responsibilities as a passenger and how a Florida car crash lawyer from Aigen Injury Law can help you receive compensation for damages after an accident.

How Fault Impacts Passenger Compensation

In 2023, Florida adopted a modified comparative negligence approach to liability in car accident cases. This means that all involved parties in a crash can be partially responsible. Settlement awards can be reduced proportionally to the percentage of fault. Under modified comparative negligence, you can only win compensation if you are 50% or less at fault.

Florida law applies to any party involved in an accident, not just drivers. You can be assigned a percentage of fault if you acted negligently or recklessly as a passenger, if those actions contributed to the crash. This could reduce or eliminate your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.

Can You Be Liable for a Crash as a Passenger in Florida?

Irresponsible driver behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence, are common causes of traffic accidents in Florida. However, your actions as a passenger can also play a part in a crash.

Examples of dangerous passenger behavior that could put you partially at fault for an accident include:

  • Distracting the driver. Under certain conditions, you might be responsible if your actions distract the driver or disrupt their focus. Activities like speaking loudly, engaging in heated discussions, quarreling, or tampering with the radio could lead to crashes and impact your accountability.
  • Interfering with the car’s controls. If you interfere with the driver’s ability to keep the vehicle under control, you could share responsibility for the accident. Examples include grabbing the steering wheel, messing with the gear shifter, or blocking the driver’s view of the road with an object.
  • Causing or encouraging unsafe behavior. You may be assigned responsibility for a car crash if you pressure or indirectly cause the driver to engage in dangerous behaviors. For example, encouraging the driver to speed or knowingly providing them with alcohol.
  • Failing to wear a seat belt. While not wearing a seatbelt increases the risk of injury or death in a car crash, it typically doesn’t indicate fault for a crash. However, if you choose not to wear your seat belt and are injured in a collision, insurance companies may use it to reduce or deny your settlement on the basis that it contributed to your own injury.

How a Florida Car Accident Attorney Can Help You Receive Compensation

If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a passenger in a car accident, our knowledgeable Florida car crash lawyers can help you explore your compensation options. These can include other drivers’ insurance policies, third-party motorists’ insurance, or your insurance coverages.

  • The at-fault driver you rode with: You may be able to secure compensation from the driver you were riding if they are partially or totally at fault for your injuries. Your attorney can help you file with their liability insurance to get a settlement up to policy limits based on your provable damages.
  • Other at-fault drivers: If another driver is responsible for your injuries, we can help you file a third-party claim with their liability coverage. This can include expenses like medical costs, lost wages, and non-economic damages if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold in Florida.
  • PIP insurance: Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is mandatory for drivers in Florida. PIP typically covers passengers in a driver’s vehicle, meaning you can receive up to 80% of reasonable medical expenses, up to $10,000. If the driver doesn’t carry the required PIP insurance, you may be able to file with your policy if you have one.
  • Your UM/UIM insurance policy: If you have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorists’ insurance, you may be able to obtain compensation from your policy if the at-fault parties don’t have liability coverage.

Work with Aigen Injury Law to Protect Your Rights

At Aigen Injury Law, we believe in the rights of all road users. If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash due to another party’s reckless or negligent behavior, our Florida car crash attorneys can help you get the settlement you deserve. This can help you pay for medical bills, lost earnings, or emotional distress from the crash so you can work on rebuilding your life.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We can review your case and help you secure maximum compensation.