Passenger in a Car Crash? Who Pays Your Medical Bills?
Maybe you don’t even have a car or a driver’s license. So, what exactly happens if you’re a passenger in a car crash? Who pays your medical bills? You might be surprised.
Your first reaction might be instinctive. Surely the person who caused the accident is responsible to pay for your doctors’ bills. Okay, maybe you’re not personally expecting them to fork out money. But, certainly their insurance company? The answer is no.
Injured Passengers and Medical Bill Payment
We get that if you’re hurt in a car crash you want to pursue a case against the driver who caused your injuries. However, your first concern should be about receiving treatment for your injuries. Obviously, the medical providers will want assurances that they will receive payment for their services. Here are some questions and answers for passengers injured in car crashes seeking medical treatment:
- Where You Traveling Somewhere for Work? Take a look at one of our past articles as it pertains to traveling and workers’ compensation in New Jersey. New Jersey has something referred to as the “going and coming rule”. According to the law, you may be acting in the course of your employment during certain travel situations.
An automobile passenger might be considered to be injured while at work if their employer has arranged their transportation. Or, if they are going from one customer location to another. Think of the service representative injured in a car crash while his manager is driving the company vehicle. In both of these cases, medical bills would be afforded by workers’ compensation insurance.
The information that appears below does not apply if your accident is deemed work-related. Workers’ compensation insurance is considered primary for injuries that occur after employment has commenced for the workday.
- What if You Own Your Own Car? If you are injured in a passenger vehicle and own a car, the choices you made on your car insurance policy will dictate payment of your medical bills. This is done under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your coverage.
- What if a Household Member is the One Who Owns a Car? PIP benefits generally follow the insured. But, what happens if you don’t have your own automobile insurance? If a household member has car insurance, you will qualify for benefits under their policy. It doesn’t matter that you are not named as a driver on the car owner’s insurance.
Take a look at the rules concerning those who are household members. The courts have found that people who reside in the same household and are related by blood or marriage may qualify for PIP benefits.
- What if None of the Above are Applicable? When insurance is unavailable from any of the foregoing resources, you would seek to make a claim against the driver of the vehicle in whose car you were injured. This is regardless of fault and for purposes of medical bill payment. You may also have another type of legal recourse if the driver was at fault.
- Total strike out. There’s no Insurance? It can happen. Your accident might not have been work-related. Maybe you or a household member don’t have cars. Perhaps the driver of your vehicle forgot to pay car insurance premiums. What now?
The State of New Jersey has a fund for just this purpose. New Jersey Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (NJPLIGA) is available for those who do not otherwise qualify for medical bill payment for automobile accidents. Make note. If you have a car and don’t pay insurance, NJPLIGA will not make benefits available to you.
If you have sustained injuries in a car crash, it is important to secure experienced legal advice. For starters, let the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo help you get your medical bills paid. Contact us to schedule an appointment regarding your accident.