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Passenger Claims in a Motor Vehicle Accident Case

January 5, 2017 | Category: Automobile Accidents, Personal Injury | Share

As a Florida passenger, you enjoy certain advantages when it comes to litigating personal injury claims.

First, passengers may pursue injury claims against all the potentially liable drivers in their motor vehicle accident case, including their own.  This gives passengers access to additional sources of damage recovery.

Secondly, in the vast majority of cases – unless you distracted the driver or otherwise interfered with the safety of the vehicle in some way – you as a passenger are faultless.  As Florida implements a pure comparative fault system for calculating liability between parties, this means that passengers are able to maximize their damage recovery where a plaintiff-driver might otherwise have their damages reduced in accordance with their contributed fault.

Confused?  Let’s take a quick look at Florida comparative fault to understand how passenger injury claims avoid some of the pitfalls.

Passenger Claim Advantages in Florida Comparative Fault

The state of Florida applies pure comparative fault to personal injury lawsuits (also known as pure comparative negligence).  Under pure comparative fault, the liability of each party involved in an accident is determined and assigned proportionally.

For example, if two drivers contribute to an accident, Driver A may be deemed to have contributed 40% of the fault towards causing the plaintiff’s injuries, while Driver B may be deemed to have contributed 60% of the fault towards causing the plaintiff’s injuries.  If the case is worth $200,000, then Driver A is liable for $80,000, and Driver B is liable for $120,000.

In motor vehicle accident cases wherein the plaintiff is also a driver, any fault attributed to the plaintiff-driver may proportionally reduce their total damages recovery.  In the above example, if Driver A is the plaintiff, then their damages recovery can only be 60% of the total $200,000.  The plaintiff – Driver A – can only recover $120,000, a sharp decrease from the actual, total damages.

Passengers are usually faultless.  Unless there is evidence to show that a passenger contributed to the accident/injuries in some way (perhaps through distraction), then the plaintiff-passenger will be assigned zero fault.  As such, they could potentially recover the full damages amount.  Continuing with the above example, a third-party plaintiff-passenger could recover the full $200,000 – $80,000 from Driver A, and $120,000 from Driver B.

Bringing a Claim Against Your Own Driver

Passengers are entitled to bring an injury claim against their own driver, and this is especially common in cases where no other drivers contributed to the injuries at-issue (for example, if your driver lost control and crashed into a tree).

Drivers owe a duty of reasonable care to their passengers – under Florida law, they must act with reasonable care in the operation of their vehicle.  If they fail to do so and their passengers sustain injuries, then the passengers may bring injury claims against the driver.

Contact Randall Spivey today to work with a knowledgeable Fort Myers personal injury lawyer at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.  

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