Comparative Negligence: Can it Stop Your Accident Claim?
You might already have an idea concerning the meaning of comparative negligence. First of all, there’s the assumption that your actions actually contributed (comparatively speaking) to the accident that caused your injuries. In some states, under the concept of contributory negligence, this might mean your claim for money damages would be ineligible. New Jersey does not arbitrarily deny lawsuits because the injured party may be partially liable. Learn more.
Let’s start with a basic example. It’s dark outside, but you somehow forgot to turn on your headlights. A car decides to jump the red traffic signal, just as you choose to run through the amber one in your direction. The result is a motor vehicle collision with extensive personal injuries. The theory of comparative negligence will be instrumental in determining the outcome of your accident claim.
Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
At the onset, you need to understand what contributory negligence means. In some states, your claim would be absolutely barred because you were found to be partially liable for your injuries. It could be as simple for failing to wear your seatbelt even if you were a passenger.
New Jersey handles accident claims from a different perspective. According to NJSA 2A:15-5.1, you aren’t necessarily precluded from pursuing damages if you contributed to an accident. The same is true if a loved one was killed in an accident.
So does this mean you are guaranteed success in a personal injury lawsuit? Even if you were partially negligent? The short answer? No.
By and large, it’s all about the percentage of fault. If you are found less negligent than another party, you will be entitled to damages. Comparatively speaking.
This brings us back to comparative negligence. NJSA 2A:15-5.2 provides some information on how comparative negligence works when it comes to determining liability claims:
- Determination of the total value of the injured party’s claim, regardless of fault
- Calculation of the extent of the responsibility of all sides in percentage amounts
Breaking down Damage Claims
What exactly does this mean? It could be that the proportionate share of liability is agreed upon by the attorneys pre-suit or during arbitration. The court may be left to determine the extent of negligence assessed to the parties.
If it’s only you and another driver, you are looking for less than fifty percent liability. The numbers change if additional parties could be responsible for your accident. As long as you are found less than fifty percent negligent, you will be entitled to recover damages.
Here’s the kicker. Comparative negligence looks at the total value of your claim. Your award will be reduced by the percentage of your liability.
Still not sure what this means? The insurance companies agree that your injury claim is worth $40,000. All things considered, you are found to be thirty percent liable for the accident that caused you to be hurt. As a result, you will only be entitled to $28,000 in damages.
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney
Too often, injured people are under the mistaken impression that they cannot make a claim if their negligent actions contributed to an accident. There is no cost to speak with the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone. We can review the circumstances of your claim and discuss your legal rights. Give us a call to set up an appointment.