Often, passengers who’ve been injured in auto accidents are hesitant to seek compensation, fearing the impact it may have on personal relationships with the driver, who may be a friend or relative. However, understanding your rights is crucial, and New Jersey law provides clear pathways for passengers to recover damages, even when the driver is someone they know well. Please continue reading and reach out to our New Jersey auto accident lawyers to learn more.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
New Jersey operates under a no-fault insurance system for car accidents. This means that, regardless of who caused the accident, your own insurance policy (Personal Injury Protection, or PIP) covers your medical expenses. But what happens when these benefits are exhausted or when the injuries are severe?
What Rights Do Injured Passengers Have?
Every passenger injured in a vehicle has rights. New Jersey’s legal framework allows for compensation beyond PIP through a personal injury claim, provided that the injuries meet certain thresholds. These include significant disfigurement, displaced fractures, or permanent injury. Here, the question isn’t just about eligibility but also about the moral dilemma of suing someone close to you.
Can You Sue a Relative or Friend?
If you were injured as a passenger in auto accident, it’s important to remember that most claims are against the insurance policy, not the individual personally. This distinction is critical. It shifts the focus from personal financial responsibility to dealing with an insurance entity. Knowing this can alleviate some of the guilt associated with filing a claim against someone you know.
In New Jersey, the statute N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a) delineates the criteria for stepping outside the no-fault system. It specifies that, for serious injuries, one can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver, even if that person is a friend or family member. The law aims to balance the rights of the injured with the protections for drivers, fostering a system where victims can seek just compensation without undue burden on personal relationships.
Filing a claim involves navigating complex legal waters, where each case’s specifics heavily influence the approach and potential outcomes. Legal representation is not just beneficial; it’s often essential. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide the guidance needed to make informed decisions, ensuring that your rights are protected while also handling the delicate nature of personal relationships involved.
It’s understandable to have reservations about pursuing a claim against someone close. However, financial recovery is crucial for addressing medical bills, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident. Engaging in open dialogue with the driver and explaining the process can help mitigate personal conflicts.
If you have further questions or are looking to file a claim for compensation, please don’t hesitate to contact Rubenstein, Berliner & Shinrod, LLC today.