You’ve heard lawyers use the term “personal injury,” but do you really know what that entails? Personal injury refers to injuries that occur as a result of negligence, which is the failure to use appropriate care, under the circumstances, to avoid injury to another person.
Using a car accident as an example, we have the duty to abide by the rules of the road and to drive carefully with regard to the circumstances existing at the time. Circumstances involve weather, traffic and speed, among others. In other words, you have to drive with more care in bad weather or heavy traffic than you do on a clear day with light traffic. If you cut somebody off, run a stop sign or drive too fast on I-4 and crash into someone or something, you have breached your duty of care and are now responsible if someone is injured.
Not all car accidents involve two or more vehicles. People are often struck by inattentive drivers while crossing the street or riding their bicycles.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths are up 5% compared to 2018. Unfortunately, Florida ranks in the top three states for pedestrian deaths along with New Mexico and Hawaii. The Federal Highway Administration says the possible reasons for these high numbers is the growing popularity of light trucks and SUVs and an increase in cell phone use while driving.
Needless to say, pedestrians who are struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die than those struck by a car. Light trucks and SUVs don’t have the same visibility over the hood as cars because of their height and drivers cannot see pedestrians and bicyclists as easily as motorists driving a car.
What happens when you’re injured in a vehicle driven by somebody else? I have yet to see a case where a passenger was found liable for causing their own injuries.
If you’re injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle, there are many avenues of recovery for you. The process begins with the insurance policies issued to the host driver of the vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident, your own insurance policy and possibly other insurance policies from relatives living with you. Your insurance company will be responsible for the first $10,000 of your medical bills, if you own a car. If you don’t own a car or live with a relative who has a car (with insurance) then the host driver’s insurance policy will pay those bills.
After those initial payments have been made, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may also be able to claim uninsured motorist coverage under your own policy, the host driver’s policy or a relative’s policy if they live with you.
If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, an experienced attorney who concentrates their practice on personal injury litigation can help you with creating the right strategy for your medical and financial recovery.