Injured as a Passenger in a Car Crash? Here’s What You Need to Know
When you’re a passenger in a car crash, you can easily feel a myriad of emotions. More than likely, there’s the usual sense of denial. You really can’t believe that you suffered such severe injuries while you were just sitting there minding your business. Of course, you could feel out of control – because you weren’t behind the wheel. And, then, there are the questions. For starters, who’s responsible for your medical bills?
The answer is not as clear as you might think. As far as you’re concerned, another driver ran a stop sign and hit your best friend’s car. It’s clear that your buddy was not at fault. Also, you weren’t driving – so you couldn’t be to blame. Therefore, the negligent driver’s insurance company better pick up the cost of your medical treatment.
Unfortunately, what seems intuitive to you, is entirely wrong. It’s not the at-fault driver who is responsible for your medical bills. Do you or someone in your household own an automobile and carry the necessary insurance? If so, that’s your source of payment.
Benefits are paid under a section of your policy (or household’s member’s insurance coverage) known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP). According to the State of New Jersey, PIP affords benefits for medical bills and may also provide reimbursement for other expenses. For example, PIP could compensate you for lost wages or help you pay for essential services warranted by your accident.
Passenger Injury Victims Without Insurance
As you most likely know, there’s nothing in New Jersey law that requires people without vehicles to maintain automobile insurance. Again, if someone in your household has car insurance, you will be covered under his or her policy. So, what happens if that’s not the case?
Who was driving the car at the time of the accident? In our example, it was your friend, who is officially known as the “host driver.” If you don’t qualify for benefits any other way, the host driver’s insurance company becomes responsible for your PIP benefits.
The whole idea may seem unfair to you. In fact, you may be worried that you will cause your buddy’s insurance rates to go up. And, since he or she wasn’t at fault in the car crash, you might feel guilty at triggering increased costs.
However, New Jersey is a No-Fault insurance state, and the laws have been set up for consistency in handling claims. New Jersey is one of only twelve states that pay out on particular damages regardless of who was at fault.
Meanwhile, you may still be able to pursue a claim against the driver who caused the accident. When you file a lawsuit against a negligent motor vehicle operator, you are expecting compensation for losses you suffered in the accident. Monetary damages may be awarded for loss of earnings, pain and suffering, as well as decreased loss of function in your body. Money cannot make you whole – but it can help after you have suffered severe injuries.