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Can I Get Compensation as a Passenger in a Car Accident?

February 3, 2021 By Cerussi and Gunn P.C. Legal Team

Most of the information you see about auto accident insurance claims is directed toward drivers. Every year, however, thousands of passengers suffer serious injuries in auto accidents. If you get injured as a passenger in a car accident in New Jersey, you have the right to recover financially. Learn how to navigate the insurance system for an award that fairly compensates you for your past and future financial losses.

Auto Insurance Coverage for Injured Passengers

In general, it is easier for an injured passenger to recover compensation than an injured driver. This is because the passenger does not have to prove or refute liability for the crash. As a passenger, you are not one of the parties considered liable for the auto accident. Instead, the dispute will typically be between the two motor vehicle drivers.

Unlike a driver, you will not have to prove the other driver was at fault if the crash is serious enough to result in a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey. Regardless of which driver caused the accident, that driver’s auto insurance will cover your injuries, medical bills and other losses. The driver of your vehicle’s liability insurance will cover injured passengers.

As long as you can prove the car accident gave you compensable losses, such as using medical bills or a letter from your employer proving that you had to miss work, you can recover financial compensation through the driver of your vehicle’s auto insurance provider. You may be eligible for insurance benefits for both economic and noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering.

How the Insurance Process Works

New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state. This means you will most likely seek coverage through the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance of the driver of the vehicle you were riding in. Every driver in New Jersey seeks damages from his or her auto insurer, regardless of fault, except in severe cases. Unless your injuries are serious enough to meet New Jersey’s threshold, you will have no legal recourse against the other driver.

Your claim to damages will proceed like any other auto insurance claim. As a passenger, you will have a third-party insurance claim regardless of which driver you are holding legally responsible for your injuries. You may even have grounds to file an insurance claim against both drivers if both share fault for the collision.

What to Do If You’re Injured as a Passenger

If you get into a car accident while in someone else’s vehicle, remain calm and make sure someone calls 911. Check yourself and others for injuries, although this is technically the driver’s responsibility in New Jersey. If anyone is injured, request an ambulance for that person. Go to a hospital immediately for medical care and request copies of your related medical records.

In the days following the car accident, expect a phone call from an insurance claims adjuster. This is someone hired by an insurance company to investigate a driver’s auto accident claim. The adjuster may contact you as a passenger to get a description of your injuries and learn more information about the accident. Keep your answers short and honest. Do not accept a settlement or agree to anything, however, without consulting with an attorney – especially if your injuries are severe.

When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

You may encounter complications when seeking financial compensation as an injured passenger in a car accident. For example, the driver’s insurance company may find a reason to refuse benefits, such as a lapse in coverage. There may be multiple passengers injured, leading to less insurance available for you. Your injuries may be serious, such as broken bones or a traumatic brain injury, allowing you to pursue compensation through the other driver’s insurance provider.

If you encounter any complications during the insurance process or believe your injuries and losses are worth more than what an insurance company is offering, hire a car accident attorney to protect your rights as an injured passenger. A car accident lawyer can represent you during insurance negotiations or an injury lawsuit to help you secure the compensation you need to move forward.