Can Passengers Pursue Car Accident Cases in New Jersey?

Most people understand that they have legal recourse if they’re involved in an accident while driving, but what happens if you are catastrophically injured as a passenger in a car accident? Are you entitled to compensation? Do you even have a case? The short answer is yes, you do have legal recourse, and you can contact a car accident lawyer to pursue legal action.

What do you need to know about being a passenger in a car accident? What should your next steps be? 

Note: You Do Not Need to Have Auto Insurance as a Passenger 

Yes, you were injured in a vehicle accident, but that doesn’t mean you have to have auto insurance with liability coverage. Since you were not operating the motor vehicle at the time of the accident, you don’t need to provide any proof of auto insurance relating to the accident you were involved in. Don’t worry if you don’t have auto insurance.

Determining Liability for Your Personal Injuries 

When you file an insurance claim for your personal injury, it will be with your auto insurance company, provided that you have insurance. Since New Jersey is a “no-fault” state (find out what that means here) all people involved in an auto accident must file claims with their own insurance companies, even passengers. Anyone with auto insurance is required to carry PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. However, this does not absolve the driver of the vehicle you were in, nor does it absolve the other driver(s) involved in the crash of liability for your injuries. If you’ve been catastrophically injured beyond what your insurance will cover, you can claim money from one or both drivers if it can be proved that they were negligent or reckless in their behavior. 

Negligent driving behavior can include:

  • Speeding 
  • Failure to obey traffic devices or signs 
  • Intoxicated or impaired driving 
  • Distracted driving 
  • Aggressive or reckless behavior 
  • Violating traffic laws 
  • Driving while tired 

When you get into someone else’s car, the person driving is responsible for your safety at all times. Other drivers on the road are also obligated to operate their motor vehicles safely and under the confines of the law at all times. Determining liability in an auto accident can be complex, which is why it’s necessary to turn to qualified auto accident attorneys to handle your case.

Do Not Accept a First Offer from Another Insurance Company

Many insurance companies choose to settle quickly in car accident cases, offering those who were injured a quick settlement to cover some or all the cost of their medical care. Keep in mind that catastrophic injuries have lifelong effects that extend beyond the financial burden of initial medical care. Do not feel pressured to take any offer from an insurance company, as you may be entitled to damages that cover: 

  • Mental conditions like PTSD 
  • Emotional damage and pain and suffering 
  • Lost wages 

Real Results for Real People: one of our clients was once offered $10,000 by an insurance company for their injury. The ECZ team was able to take the case and settle for $250,000! This is why you never accept an offer until you’ve consulted with a personal injury attorney! 

What to Do After You’ve Been in a Car Accident as a Passenger

Being involved in a car accident is a jarring experience. As a passenger, it can be confusing to know what steps to take in the aftermath. If you’ve been injured, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. If it doesn’t appear that you have been injured, it still may be a good idea to be seen by a medical professional, as your injuries may be unseen.

Afterwards, there are several steps you should take to help your personal injury case

  • Gather information: Collect essential information such as the names, contact information, and insurance details of all parties involved, including drivers and witnesses. 
  • Take photos: Capture images of the accident scene, vehicle damage, license plates, your visible injuries, and any other important evidence. 
  • Speak to law enforcement: Provide an accurate account of the accident to the police. Avoid speculating or admitting fault.  
  • Inform your insurance company: Report the accident to your insurance provider (if you have one), providing them with the information gathered. Be honest and concise in your statements. 
  • Preserve evidence: Keep all applicable records by maintaining a file with all pertinent documents, including medical records, insurance communications, and any expenses related to the accident. 

Prioritize your well-being, communicate with relevant parties, and seek the necessary support to recover from the incident.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Car accident cases can be tricky, especially if you were not one of the drivers involved. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a case; there’s a very good chance that you do. That’s why you should contact a personal injury attorney, especially if you have been seriously injured. Do not accept what an insurance company offers you; you may be entitled to more.

At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, we’ve helped victims of car accidents recover money that is crucial to their recovery. We’ve helped our clients recover over a billion dollars, and we can help you with your case as well. Get in touch with our team today to talk about how to proceed with your case.