If you were injured as a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident, you may have many questions about who is liable for your medical bills and lost wages. Will the driver of the car you were in compensate you for your injuries through their insurance? What if the other driver is at-fault?
Can I Sue if I’m a Passenger in a Car Accident in New Jersey?
Because New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, your own PIP (personal injury protection) coverage first applies to cover your medical bills and lost wages. In the event of serious injury or negligence, it may be possible to file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver(s) to cover the bills that exceed your own coverage.
Every driver in New Jersey is required to have PIP coverage which pays for medical bills and lost income after an accident, regardless of who was at-fault. PIP coverage applies in any car accident you are involved in, regardless of if you are actually driving your car or someone else’s car. Some people only carry the minimum amount of PIP coverage or have serious injuries that cost well over their PIP coverage amounts. In those instances, it may be possible to look at the other driver’s insurance for coverage or, especially in cases of negligence.
What If You Don’t Have PIP Coverage?
If you don’t have PIP coverage on your own auto insurance policy, the PIP policy of a family member that you live with could apply. If that’s not possible and you don’t have auto insurance, the next in line for coverage would be the driver with whom you were riding. Their own PIP coverage and possibly liability coverage would apply, depending on the circumstances.
Determining Liability for the Auto Accident
In any car accident, in order to determine who the "at fault" driver is, it is important to look at the circumstances of how that particular car accident played out. Sometimes; for example, in the case of someone running a stop sign and broadsiding another vehicle, it can be easy to determine who is at fault, but other times it's not as easy. Insurance companies and investigators will work to determine where fault, or liability, may lie with each party.
Drivers assume responsibility for the safety of their passengers. If the driver of the car you were in is found to be at-fault or party at-fault for the accident, their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance may have to pay for some of your injuries from the accident. Conversely, if the other driver is found to be at-fault for the accident, it may be possible to recover compensation through their insurance coverage. Keep in mind, passengers are never at-fault in a car accident. Even if you were distracting the driver, it is the driver’s responsibility to safely operate the vehicle.
Negligence and Serious Injury
If you were seriously injured as a passenger in a car accident, you likely have a valid claim against the at-fault driver, particularly if the at-fault driver was negligent in their behavior. Negligent behavior behind the wheel comes in many forms. Examples of behavior leading up to the car accident that could indicate the drive acted negligent include:
- Drunk driving
- Drugged driving
- Distracted driving
- Failing to obey traffic signals or signs
- Driver fatigue
- Driving aggressively
If there is sufficient evidence proving negligence on the part of any of the drivers in the accident, you should contact a New Jersey injury attorney who specializes in car accident claims to discuss suing as a passenger in the accident.
Brandon J. Broderick, New Jersey Injury Attorney
Working with an attorney with extensive experience in car accidents can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from Brandon J. Broderick, you are assured a passionate team fighting for your best interest and putting your needs first. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney, at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with car accident settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.