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A Recent Appellate Case and What a Passenger Should Do if Injured in a Car Accident


Car accidents are always difficult to deal with especially when they result in injuries. However, most of the billboards and commercials we see are geared towards the drivers of the accident. And drivers aren’t the only victims – passengers can be some of the greatest, and least faultworthy accident victims. As an injured passenger, you should understand that you may file a claim with your own insurance company which will cover up to $10,000 of medical bills and lost wages because of Florida’s required PIP coverage. If PIP is not enough to cover all of your injuries, you may be able to file a lawsuit against either the at-fault driver, the driver of the car you were a passenger of, or both.

However, understanding how to proceed and who you can recover from if injured can be a very confusing process. This is why you should obtain legal help as soon as possible if injured in an accident as a passenger.

What Recent Appellate Case Centered on Who Was Liable For the Injuries of a Passenger?

The Second District Court of Appeal recently contemplated in Progressive Ins. v. Pawelczyk whether the passenger in a rental vehicle driven by her sister had rightfully been afforded coverage under her sister’s policy following her injuries in an accident involving an uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle.

In that case, the passenger’s sister was driving a rental vehicle while her Jeep, which was listed on the declarations page of her policy with Progressive, was getting a new transmission. After her sister was paid out on her own claim, the passenger argued that her sister’s policy also covered her because the rental vehicle was a “covered auto”. Specifically, she contended that her sister was the beneficial owner of the rental vehicle because she had dominion and control over the vehicle and therefore coverage extended to her as a passenger.

However, the Court noted that the passenger’s argument would lead to uninsured coverage for bodily injuries suffered by every passenger in any vehicle driven by a named insured. Further, it pointed out the difference between vehicle rentals, which are a possessory interest, and vehicle ownership, which is a much broader property interest. While the passenger argued that the two are equivalent, the Court noted that the rights in a rental car are much lower – it is not as though one can sell a rental car, for example. Ultimately, the Court found that the vehicle was not a “covered vehicle” and therefore, the passenger was not an “insured person” entitled to coverage under her sister’s policy.

What Should Passengers Do if Injured in an Accident?

  • Do not admit fault
  • Call 9-1-1 and report the accident
  • Take note of any injured parties and assist them if you feel comfortable after your own injuries seem stable
  • Gather the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses and write down a description of how each person so that you remember them later
  • Use your smartphone to take pictures and record video of the location of the accident as well as the surrounding area

Have You or a Loved One Injured While Riding as a Passenger in Someone Else’s Car?

Being involved in a car accident is stressful enough without having to figure out all of the hurdles you have to jump through in order to recover for your injuries. Instead, you should allow someone else to deal with the nuances of your personal injury claim while you focus on recovering from your injuries. Contact the experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys of The Pendas Law Firm today for a free initial consultation.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Orlando, Tampa, Bradenton, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami and Daytona Beach areas.




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