Did You Get Hurt in an Accident as a Passenger in a Commercial Vehicle?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Tue Sep 2018
Pick up the paper on any given day, and you’ll read of some horrendous accident. Meanwhile, if it’s you that’s injured, you’ll want to understand how your bills are covered. The answer may be unexpected if you’re hurt in an accident as a passenger in a commercial vehicle.
If you own a passenger vehicle, you may recall that part of your policy calls for Personal Injury Protection, also known as PIP coverage. If you’ve followed our suggestions in a prior article, you’ve made sure that your automobile insurance is primary in the event that you’re hurt in a car crash.
On first glance, it might seem like you have no worries. After all, your understanding of your policy is that your insurance follows you. However, NJSA 39:6A-4 offers some valuable insight when it comes to providing PIP benefits. In order to take advantage of the coverage, your injuries must have occurred while you were “occupying, entering into, alighting from or using an automobile, or as a pedestrian, caused by an automobile or by an object propelled by or from an automobile.”
In your case, you may have decided to hop in the cab of your friend’s eighteen-wheeler. It’s not as though you were working delivering goods or materials. In fact, it might be as simple as wanting the experience of riding in a big rig.
It’s just your luck. As the truck is traveling on Route 78 near the Garden State Parkway entrance in Union, another tractor-trailer hits it. The impact causes you to suffer rather severe injuries. Later, you are shocked to learn your personal automobile insurance company has no plans on paying for your medical care.
Commercial Vehicle Injury Claims
First, it should go without saying that if you were in the course of your employment when the accident happened, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The company’s insurance carrier will take care of authorized medical treatment, lost wages and maybe even provide you with at least a portion of permanent disability benefits.
However, what happens in the case when you were a passenger in a commercial truck – but not working at the time of the accident? In some cases, truck companies actually purchase medical bill options for their vehicles. However, there is no legal requirement for them to do so – the coverage is optional.
In the meantime, there’s the chance that your health insurance will pick up payment for your medical treatment. However, don’t be surprised if they expect to be repaid if you’re successful in a lawsuit against them.
Limitation on the Right to Noneconomic Loss
Previously, we provided you with information on New Jersey’s threshold laws. Truth be told, this law has undergone a few name changes. Among them are the verbal threshold law and the limitation on lawsuit threshold.
Regardless of the different names, both terms are used to describe your right to sue in the event of an automobile accident. You were offered a choice when you signed up for New Jersey automobile insurance. If you chose the limitation on lawsuit option, NJSA 39:6A-8 states that you can only sue for the following reasons:
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant scarring
- Displaced fractures
- Loss of a fetus, or
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
Here’s something important that you should know. If your accident involved a commercial vehicle, the limitation option does not apply. Therefore, even if your injury appears to be minor, you may be entitled to make a negligence claim and receive monetary damages.
The attorneys from the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo has over half a century of combined legal experience. We would be pleased to discuss your case with you and provide you with legal advice. Contact us to schedule an appointment.