Passengers Injured in Car Accident: Who Pays My Medical Bills?

Medical Bills for Passengers in Car Accidents in New Jersey

New Jersey passengers injured in auto accidents are often confused about which car insurance company is required to pay for their medical bills.  Generally, as a passenger involved in a car accident in New Jersey, your medical bills will be covered by your own auto insurance company (if you have one) or that of a relative with which you reside, regardless of which driver was at fault for the accident.  This is because New Jersey is a “no-fault” state.

Thus, for example, if you own your own vehicle, but you were a passenger injured in an auto accident, due to New Jersey’s “no-fault” law, you would make a claim for medical expenses (known as a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim) through your own automobile insurance company.   Thus, you would not make your PIP claim through the other at-fault driver’s automobile insurance company. Under New Jersey law, only the following two classes of individuals can make PIP claims:

  1. The named insured and members of his or family/household; and
  2. Everyone else (i.e., passengers).

[N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.]

Going After Insurance When You Do Not Have Your Own

In the event that you do not own your own vehicle, you would first look to the auto insurance policies of any relatives that you reside with who own a car.  Thus, for example, if you were a passenger in a friend’s car and you were injured in a car accident and you do not own your own car, you would need to file your PIP claim with the car insurance company of a resident relative, such as your parents, grandparents, siblings, or children.

Similarly, let’s say you are a father driving your two children and you are involved in a car accident.  Since your children do not have auto policies of their own, but they reside with you, they would be eligible to make a PIP claim under your policy.

Passengers must first look to their own insurance policy and then to a family member’s policy for coverage.  This is known of primacy of coverage.  N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.2.  This means that when more than one policy may apply, only one insurance policy will be primary.  Moreover, only one PIP claim may be filed and, generally, no one can make multiple PIP claims with multiple policies.

As another example, let’s say your father is driving a friend and is involved in an accident.  The friend does not have an insurance policy of their own, nor do they reside with a resident relative who have auto insurance.  In this case, the friend’s medical bills would be covered your father’s car insurance company because no other insurance policy is applicable. It should also be noted that passengers who have no available PIP coverage may be able to make a claim to have their medical bills covered through a special state fund known as PLIGA.

Car Accident Attorneys Serving Victims in New Jersey

If you were injured in a car accident in New Jersey and have questions about your medical bills, contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Harrell, Smith and Williams today at (908) 264-7228 to schedule a free consultation.

Posted in Auto Accident, automobile insurance, Injured Passengers, Medical Claim, Personal Injury.