Legal Channels for Passengers to Seek Compensation for Car Accident Injuries in New Jersey
Whether you are carpooling, going to the movies with friends, visiting family, or just out and about, likely passengers are riding with you. Humans are social creatures, and we enjoy driving when there is someone to play car karaoke or go through the Poconos to see the fall colors. Many of the best memories are made on family trips like that to the favorite vacation spot on the Jersey Shore. Mother’s or Father’s Day outings to a favorite restaurant or a late-night run for ice cream with friends, all of these experiences enrich our lives. But unfortunately, in New Jersey, in 2022, there were 649 accidents and 692 fatalities. When there are passengers, their injuries must be addressed as much as the driver’s. It is hard to know who needs to be compensated and by whom. Read on to find out what you should do as a driver or passenger when you have injuries from an auto accident.
Understanding a Driver’s Duty of Care in NJ
In New Jersey, all motorists are responsible for driving lawfully. There is a duty of care that must be maintained while driving. Negligence on the part of the driver can result not only in criminal charges but also in a lawsuit filed by the passengers against the negligent driver.
Drivers have a duty of care that is owed to the passengers. The court will analyze the driver’s actions as the accident victim and their personal injury lawyer show how that duty of care was breached. If the driver were drunk, texting, looking at their phone, speeding, or simply not paying attention, these all would constitute a breach of the duty of care owed to the other riders. If the driver isn’t cited or arrested, a personal injury case by the passenger can still be filed due to the accident.
Factors Leading to Car Accidents with Injured Passengers
Not maintaining a safe distance between one car and another can cause an accident. Rear-end accidents happen when tailgating because when the front star stops suddenly, there isn’t time or space to avoid a collision. The best way to prevent this type of accident is by ensuring at least two-thirds of a car length between you and the vehicle in front of you at a stop light or in stop-and-go traffic. If you have trouble envisioning that distance, another trick is to stay in a position where you can see the bottom of the back tires of the vehicle in front of you. On the highway, you should use the three-second rule.
T-Bone type of accidents happen at intersections with traffic lights or stop signs. It is a crash where the cars are perpendicular to one another, and frequently, the passenger in the front or back seat takes the brunt of the impact. This accident is nearly always caused by a distracted driver, a lack of patience (speeding through a red light), or making a left-hand turn across traffic.
Side swiping is less common and usually occurs when a driver attempts to change lanes without checking if there is a car in their path. This kind of accident can cause rollovers at high speeds. Multi-car accidents are likely to occur when driving on the highway.
Single-car accidents occur most frequently when the vehicle is going too fast, when wet or icy road conditions, fog, and snow cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, or when an inexperienced driver over-corrects or doesn’t brake soon enough. Hitting a stationary object, such as a tree or telephone pole, can cause life-threatening injuries to everyone in the car.
Exploring the Severity of Injuries Affecting Passengers in Auto Accidents
Injuries from a vehicle accident are placed in two broad categories: impact injuries and penetrating injuries. Impact injuries happen when a driver or passenger is forced against a part of the car’s interior or is ejected and hits the ground or some object outside of the vehicle. Penetrating injuries occur when loose objects in the vehicle (such as glass or metal parts of the car) break the skin.
Depending upon the type of accident and the speed of the vehicles when it took place, injuries from an accident can vary from mild to deadly. Scrapes, scratches, bruises, and strains are the mildest, followed by whiplash, bruised ribs, and a minor concussion. Serious or fatal injuries included compound (exposed) fractures, crushed limbs, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), a punctured lung (pneumothorax), internal organ damage such as a ruptured spleen, lacerated liver or kidneys, spinal injuries, internal bleeding, or a fractured skull.
Passengers Should Gather Evidence at the Accident Scene if Possible
If a passenger won’t injure themselves further, it is a good idea to start gathering evidence. They should get contact information from any witnesses. Taking pictures of the accident site and the vehicles is a good start. Next, it is essential to give a statement to the police. Also, seek medical attention for any injuries, as small as they may seem at the time. Remember, injuries can manifest hours or days later, so it is advantageous to get checked out. Suppose there are injuries severe enough to require medical intervention. In that case, all doctor’s and nurse’s notes, test results, x-rays, or MRI results, as well as a prognosis or further care, such as physiotherapy, should be collected.
Navigating New Jersey’s No-Fault Insurance System
New Jersey operates within no-fault insurance that is obligatory for all state residents. PIP (Personal Injury Protection) protects drivers as well as passengers. If you are injured as a passenger and own a car, your insurance will cover your injuries. If you don’t have a policy because you don’t own a vehicle, you be able to obtain compensation for the driver’s insurance who is at fault. Their parents’ insurance will cover children and teens riding with their parents.
There is a possibility that your friend or family member’s policy will provide you with all of the coverage you need, but it is relatively unlikely. An experienced personal injury attorney can negotiate with the insurance company, and your relationship with your family member or friend can stay rock solid.
Identifying Negligence in Auto Accidents Affecting Passengers
Driver negligence is one of the principal reasons for accidents. Driving while eating or smoking can be dangerous. Spills or burns from a lit cigarette can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Driving aggressively or recklessly are senseless actions, as are excessive speeding and non-compliance with stoplights, stop signs, or other road rules. Texting while driving has been proven time and again to be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Driving without a license or with malfunctioning brakes or bald tires can also be seen as negligent.
Your Financial Recovery Begins with the Right Representation. Call Our West Long Branch Office Today
The lawyers at Chamlin, Uliano, & Walsh know what a difficult time this can be for you. Dealing with insurance companies while you are trying to heal from your injuries is exhausting. New Jersey’s car insurance laws are complex and challenging to understand. We are prepared to preserve your rights at Chamlin, Uliano, & Walsh and get you a fair settlement if you have been injured as a passenger in a car crash in New Jersey.
Our attorneys are expert negotiators, and we won’t take just any offer from the insurance company. We will provide the dedicated, compassionate representation you expect from an outstanding law firm in Red Bank, Eatontown, Wall, Holmdel, Keansburg, Oceanport, Freehold, Long Branch, Manasquan, and towns along the Jersey Shore. We will keep you updated and informed of all aspects of your case. We believe that open communication is essential between an attorney and their client. It is essential to know that the statute of limitations on this kind of case is two years from the date of the accident. Don’t wait until time has run out. Call us today at 732-440-3950 for your free consultation, or reach out by completing a contact form.