How Passengers Injured in New Jersey Car Accidents Can Recover Compensation

Motor vehicle passengers hurt in an, accident in New Jersey have multiple options for seeking compensation for their financial losses. This begins with complying with the state’s no-fault insurance system, which is meant to provide prompt reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages and necessary expenses arising from accident injuries. But sometimes a passenger must bring claims or lawsuits against the drivers or seek alternative means of compensation.

These are the principal sources of compensation a passenger can pursue:

  1. Personal injury protection (PIP) — This coverage is mandated by state law for all drivers of motor vehicles. The minimum amount of PIP insurance required is $15,000. A passenger who holds PIP insurance or who is covered under a family member’s policy must look first to that PIP coverage for compensation. If there is none, the passenger may file a claim against their driver’s PIP policy. Either way, the compensation obtainable is subject to the PIP policy’s coverage limits. 

  2. Bodily injury liability insurance — If the passenger suffers injuries that exceed the available PIP coverage, the passenger may seek compensation from an at-fault party's liability insurance. New Jersey law requires liability coverage of at least $15,000 for injury to one person and $30,000 for total injuries per accident. An injured passenger can assert claims against their own driver and against the driver of any other vehicle involved. Under New Jersey’s comparative negligence law, each driver is liable for damages to the extent of their own fault. 

  3. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage — If an at-fault driver does not have sufficient liability insurance to cover an injured passenger’s losses, the passenger can look to any other driver’s UM/UIM coverage. Although not mandatory in New Jersey, many drivers carry UM/UIM coverage at the same limits as their liability coverage. If the passenger has an insurance policy of their own, they may have to file a claim against their own UM/UIM insurance. 

  4. MedPay (medical payments) coverage — MedPay is an optional type of car insurance that pays medical expenses after a car accident for insured drivers and their passengers. MedPay coverage can also be used to pay deductibles or copays of other coverage, like health insurance. 

  5. Health insurance — An injured passenger can file a claim under their own health insurance policy or that of any policy under which they are insured. The health insurance is secondary coverage, which means it will only reimburse for medical expenses not covered by other policies. 

If a dispute over damages cannot be resolved through insurance claims, litigation may be necessary. A passenger suffering a “serious injury” as defined by state law can file a lawsuit against any at-fault driver. Recoverable damages include not only economic losses but also provable non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. 

Seigel Law in Ridgewood represents victims of accidents in Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties and throughout northern New Jersey. Call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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