What to Do if You’re a Passenger in a Car Accident

Inside of a car after an accident

When most people think about traffic accidents, they want to know how Florida car accident law applies to compensate each driver fairly for their losses.

But what happens when a passenger suffers an injury in a motor vehicle accident? Do they have a right to recover from the at-fault driver? How do Florida’s no-fault rules apply? Will they need to work with a car accident lawyer? Here’s what you need to know if you’re a passenger in a car accident in Florida.


Your first step is to summon the police and get medical attention

If you’re a passenger in a car accident in Florida, your first step is getting the emergency medical care that you need. It’s critical to document that you were injured in the crash, and emergency medical treatment is the ideal way to identify your injuries. 

It’s also critical to summon the police to the accident. They will conduct an investigation and help you collect insurance information from all drivers, which you will need for your claim. Police also preserve evidence and determine who caused the accident.

Determine whose coverage applies

Florida has a “no-fault” auto insurance system. This means it doesn’t matter who is at fault for the auto accident, because all drivers throughout Florida are required by law to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.

This protection allows all drivers and passengers involved in a car accident to have insurance coverage for any property damage or injuries they sustain. Instead of going after the insurance company of the other driver, as is done in “at-fault” states, Florida drivers turn instead to their own insurance to cover losses. 

Look at your own policy

The first place to look for recovery when you’re a passenger in a Florida car accident is your own insurance policy. Contact your own insurer and file a claim for your own PIP benefits.

For example: Jose is driving a vehicle. Addy is Jose’s passenger. Another driver, Pat, strikes Jose’s vehicle. Addy suffers minor injuries totaling $3,000. Addy is a car owner, and she has her own PIP insurance. Addy files a claim with her own insurer to recover for her $3,000 in damages.

Look at your family member’s policy

When you’re a passenger in a car accident in Florida, and you don’t have your own insurance policy, the next place to look is at the policy of a family member who is living in your household. If you’re not insured, but your parent, sibling, or other family member that you live with is, their PIP insurance should pay your benefits, even when your family member isn’t involved in the accident.

For example: Jose is driving a vehicle. Addy is Jose’s passenger. Another driver, Pat, strikes Jose’s vehicle. Addy suffers minor injuries totaling $3,000. Addy doesn’t own a car, but she lives with her parents. Addy’s mother owns a vehicle and has PIP insurance. Even though Addy’s mother wasn’t in the car at the time of the accident, Addy can look to her mother’s insurance policy for PIP benefits.

Look at the driver’s policy

If the passenger riding in a car doesn’t have PIP insurance and the passenger’s household family members don’t have a PIP insurance policy either, the next place to look is at the driver’s insurance policy. Their PIP policy should pay for your losses if there isn’t a closer insurance policy.

For example: Jose is driving a vehicle. Addy is Jose’s passenger. Another driver, Pat, strikes Jose’s vehicle. Addy suffers minor injuries totaling $3,000. Addy doesn’t own a car. No one in her entire household owns a car. Jose’s PIP insurance is the insurance policy that should apply to cover Addy’s losses.

What if the drivers are uninsured?

It is illegal to drive without car insurance in Florida. All drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP, and $10,000 in priority damage liability (PDL). Despite this, a 2019 report showed that a little over 20% of Florida drivers were uninsured. 

Individuals who drive without insurance can face consequences including fines, suspension of their license, and even jail time. Individuals injured in an accident that was caused by an uninsured motorist can still go after the uninsured motorist via a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. 

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) are optional protections you can purchase. This coverage helps protect you in the event you suffer injuries from a driver who is not insured or does not have enough insurance coverage. This supplemental coverage also applies if you’ve been injured during a hit-and-run, or if the individual who struck you cannot be located. 

What can I do if PIP doesn’t pay?

If your PIP insurance provider denies your claim, you can appeal the denial and bring a legal claim against the insurance company to collect fair compensation. Working with a Florida car accident attorney can help you evaluate your case to determine which policy should apply and how to bring your claim.

What if you’re the passenger?

Florida law specifies that even passengers have rights following a car accident. However, for a passenger to pursue a liability claim against the driver that injured them, their injuries must qualify as a serious injury, including:  

  1. A permanent injury to an organ or other body part
  2. Limitation in the function of an organ or body part
  3. Broken bones
  4. An injury that causes a passenger to be on disability for at least 90 days 

If a passenger’s injuries qualify as serious, they can pursue a claim with their PIP insurance or through a legal claim. 

What if the driver was a rideshare driver?

Liability can change depending on the status of the rideshare driver:

  1. The driver is transporting a rider: In this case, the rideshare company will offer up to 1 million dollars in liability coverage. You can pursue a claim through the rideshare company’s insurance policy, and payouts can apply to more than one party.
  2. The driver is actively seeking a rider:  In this case, you may still be able to tap into Uber and Lyft insurance coverage, but the amounts drop to a maximum of $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage, and up to $25,000 in property damage coverage
  3. The driver is not on the rideshare app: You won’t have the ability to tap into insurance coverage offered by the rideshare company if they are not logged in and actively using the app. The injured individual or passenger will have to rely on their PIP insurance or personal health insurance. 

In all cases, you may still be able to pursue additional legal actions such as a personal injury lawsuit. However, these claims will typically be aimed at the driver and any other third parties,  not the rideshare companies. Because rideshare drivers are contracted workers and not employees, it has been notoriously difficult to hold rideshare companies liable for an accident caused by one of their drivers. 

You can’t recover twice

There may be more than one insurance policy that could provide PIP coverage, but you can’t recover twice. If you have $3,000 in damages, that’s the amount that you recover. The goal is to make you whole for your losses.

Florida’s statute of limitations to file a claim

You have only a 14-day window to seek medical treatment after a car accident in Florida to collect PIP benefits. Auto accident victims have anywhere from two to three years from the date of their injury to file a personal injury claim.

If a car accident injury resulted in a wrongful death, the statute of limitation drops to two years. For all other car accident claims, the statute of limitations is four years. It’s important to adhere to these time constraints because once they pass, you may lose the right to bring forward your case. 

What about serious injuries?

If you sustain serious injuries as a passenger in a Florida car accident, Florida’s no-fault rules don’t apply. You may be able to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. Your attorney can help you determine if your case qualifies.

How can a car accident attorney help?

A car accident attorney meeting with a client


At Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, we are ready to help you fight for your rights. Our legal team can help you pursue your claim to the fullest extent so that you recover the injury settlement you deserve. 

If you were a passenger in a vehicle involved in a car accident in Tampa, Clearwater, and other central Florida locations, call us at (813) 333-6666 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win.



Facts + Statistics: Uninsured Motorists. (2019). 

FLA. STAT § 627.737.

FLA. STAT § 627.7407.

FLA. STAT § 95.11.

Florida Insurance Requirements. (2023).

Insurance Coverage While Driving with Lyft. (2023).

Insurance for Rideshare Drivers Using Uber. (2023).

Taylor, J. (2022). Insurance Coverage for Uber & Lyft Passengers

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Click to Call