If you were injured in an auto accident in Florida that wasn’t your fault, you can recover compensation for the damages caused by your injuries by filing a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, what happens when you discover after the accident that the driver of the other vehicle wasn’t its owner?
In this situation, there are two scenarios to consider:
- The person behind the wheel had the owner’s permission to be driving the car.
- The driver was operating the vehicle without the owner’s permission.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance Covers the Vehicle, Not the Driver
If the person responsible for the accident was operating the vehicle with the owner’s permission, you will file a claim with the insurance company of the person who owns the automobile involved in the accident. In Florida, auto insurance covers the vehicle, not the driver. So insurance will cover the accident even if the driver of the other vehicle wasn’t its owner.
Florida state laws require that all owners of registered vehicles must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage insurance. PIP provides compensation for any personal injury damages — medical bills, lost wages, etc. — regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
The first step would be to file a claim with your auto insurance company.
However, car accidents in Winter Haven and elsewhere in Florida can cause serious, life-changing injuries that may require long-term medical care and prevent the injured person from earning a living. What happens if your damages exceed the $10,000 provided by your PIP coverage?
In that case, you would file a claim with the owner of the vehicle’s insurance company. If the damages exceed the limits of their policy, you may also be able seek compensation from the insurance company of the person that was driving the car at the time.
The Driver Was Operating the Vehicle Without the Owner’s Permission
Things are different if the vehicle’s owner can show that the person operating their vehicle when the accident occurred was doing so without their permission. For instance, if the car was reported as being stolen at the time of the accident, the vehicle’s owner will not be liable for any damages. In these circumstances, you may have to recover damages from the driver’s insurance company (if they were covered).
Speak to a Winter Haven Auto Accident Attorney
Questions concerning liability in a car accident can sometimes be hard to answer, especially if you aren’t familiar with Florida state law. This is an example of why it is important to get an experienced personal injury attorney like Tania Rivas involved in your case.
Tania Rivas and Rivas Law Group have successfully represented clients in Winter Haven, Lakeland, Lutz, and other central Florida communities who were injured in auto accidents that were the fault of another driver, including wrecks in which the person driving the vehicle wasn’t its owner. Attorney Rivas will be able to identify all the parties liable for your injuries (in some instances, a third party may share responsibility) and settle any permission vs. non-permission issues that may arise.