Do Injured Passengers Have Rights in New Jersey?
People are injured in car accidents every day. It is often clear which driver is to blame for a damaging car crash, but not always. However, passengers rarely cause car accidents. Yet, in New Jersey and other no-fault states, passengers face complex and confusing processes to determine how to secure coverage for injuries after collisions.
New Jersey is considered a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. In a no-fault state, an injured passenger is covered under their own car insurance for damages incurred in the accident, such as medical costs.
If the passenger does not have car insurance, they are covered under the insurance policy of a parent or another family member, such as a sibling, grandparent, or adult child. This is the case in no-fault states, regardless of who caused the accident. In no-fault states, insurance policies pay for medical expenses for covered drivers and passengers under personal injury protection (PIP) rules. These policy benefits are available to the insured and members of their family. This protection may also be available to passengers of the policyholder, but only if the passengers do not have other coverage available to them.
Should a Passenger Obtain Coverage from a Family Member?
Under PIP provisions, the state law requires a car accident claimant to rely on their own policy first. If this coverage exists, it is considered the primary policy. If an injured passenger does not have their own insurance, they should turn to a family member’s policy for coverage. However, if they have their own primary policy, they cannot choose to file their claim with their family member’s coverage. Only one PIP claim may be filed, and it must be filed according to the established succession of eligible policies.
Can an Injured Passenger Collect Damages from the Driver?
If the passenger has no insurance policy of their own and they have no eligibility for coverage under a family member’s policy, they may file a claim through the insurance policy belonging to the driver of the vehicle. In New Jersey, PIP coverage extends to the passengers inside the policyholder’s car. However, this only applies to passengers who have exhausted all other possibilities for PIP coverage.
If an injured passenger in New Jersey has no viable PIP protection insurance coverage available to them, they may be able to file a claim through the New Jersey Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (NJPLIGA). The NJPLIGA is a safety net program that provides assistance to people who do not have access to traditional insurance coverage.
What if the Medical Expenses are not Entirely Covered?
In cases that involve serious and catastrophic injuries and exorbitant medical bills, the law allows an injured passenger to bring suit against an at-fault driver. Typically, this occurs when the insurance policy limit does not fully cover the medical expenses or other damages of the injured party.
Most insurance policies have payout limits per claim. This can complicate the process for an injured passenger trying to obtain fair compensation for a serious injury. If fair compensation amounts to more than the policy limit, the injured passenger may pursue a legal course of action in the courts to make up the difference.
How Do I Know if a Settlement Offer is Fair?
Insurance providers often try to limit their losses by making low settlement offers. Sometimes, the settlement seems like a great deal of money to a claimant, but a seasoned lawyer should review the offer before a decision is made. A lawyer will evaluate the case and ensure that their client receives a fair settlement. Medical bills, future income, and other losses should be considered in a settlement offer. An experienced lawyer will assist with a personal injury claim so that the victim receives the maximum amount of compensation that is available.
Highland Park Personal Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Represent Seriously Injured Passengers
If you were a passenger during a car accident, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries. If your claim is denied or you are unsure how to proceed, one of our Highland Park personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help. Complete our online form or call us at 732-537-8570 for a free consultation today. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.