What Are My Rights as a Passenger Involved in a Car Crash?
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Sep 07, 2018 in Car Accidents News
Although personal injury claims are often filed by drivers involved in a car accident, passengers riding in the vehicle may also be entitled to legal action against the at-fault party. However, many people are unaware of their rights as a passenger after being injured in a car accident.
Below, Lynch Law Firm’s car accident lawyers in New Jersey discuss passengers’ rights who are injured in an auto collision. This includes the right to pursue compensation and which parties may be held liable for the passenger’s injuries.
If you believe your car accident was caused by another’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact us to find out which legal options may be available to you after the crash. We will review your claim during a free, no obligation consultation to help you find out if may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party.
Whose Insurance Policy Do I File a Claim Against?
In New Jersey, a “no fault” insurance system is used to recover compensation for injuries and other damages acquired during a car accident. This means that regardless of which party was at fault for the accident, each injured person goes to his or her insurance policy to cover medical bills. The priority for these claims is typically in the following order:
- Your own insurance policy
- A policy that covers the members of your family living with you at the time of the accident
- The policy that covers the passengers inside your vehicle at the time of the accident
To file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, you must meet the lawsuit threshold, which requires showing that you suffered one of the following injuries:
- Loss of arms, legs, fingers or toes
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Fractured bones
- Loss of fetus
- Permanent injury where the body part or organ has not healed to function normally and will not heal with medical treatment
To recover compensation for a permanent injury, a doctor will need to diagnose your injury to determine its long-term effects. Although soft tissue injuries may be considered valid to file a lawsuit, your doctor will need to establish with proof that the injury will never heal with medical treatment.
Which Party is At Fault for a Passenger’s Injuries?
If you are injured as a passenger during a car accident, there may be several parties you can hold liable for your injuries.
The party who is at fault depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your accident and traffic laws. This determination also depends on how many vehicles were involved in the accident.
A single-vehicle accident happens when a driver crashes his or her vehicle into a stationary object, such as a light pole, parked car or tree. These types of accidents are usually due to distracted or impaired driving.
If you were a passenger in a vehicle involved in a single-vehicle accident, you might be able to file a personal injury claim against the driver of the vehicle you were in.
Multiple Vehicle Accidents
Liability is often not as clear when multiple vehicles are involved in a car accident. To recover compensation for your injuries, you will need to establish which driver was at fault for the accident.
In this situation, it may be in your best interest to contact a qualified New Jersey personal injury lawyer to investigate your claim. He or she will review the actions of each party involved in your accident to determine which driver’s negligence caused the crash that resulted in your injury.
What If More than One Driver Is at Fault?
When more than one driver is at fault for a car accident, New Jersey uses the law of comparative negligence to determine each party’s liability.
Under comparative negligence, each driver’s actions during the accident will be examined to determine which one displayed a greater amount of negligence. Depending on the results, each driver will be assigned a percentage of fault depicting the degree of negligence they are liable for, according to NJ Rev. Stat. § 2A:15-5.1.
This percentage will determine the amount of compensation each driver owes the passenger injured during the car accident. For example, you may file a $10,000 personal injury claim after being injured in an accident. If the driver of your vehicle is found to be 30 percent at fault, he or she is liable for paying $3,000. Likewise, if the other driver is found to be 70 percent at fault, his or her insurer must pay $7,000 in damages.
Contact the Lynch Law Firm for Help
If you were involved in a car accident as a passenger and suffered an injury, you will need to understand your rights in order to recover full compensation for your personal injury claim.
The Lynch Law Firm’s New Jersey car accident attorneys can discuss what legal options may allow you to recover compensation for the injuries and other damages you have suffered.
We can discuss the specific circumstances surrounding your case during a free, no-obligation case consultation. We provide all of our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you only have to pay us if we successfully help you recover compensation for your claim.
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