New Jersey state law follows “comparative negligence” or “contributory negligence” regulations when determining fault for personal injury claims. What this means is that fault is assigned on a sliding, percentage-based scale anywhere from 0% to 100%. For example, it is common for car accidents to have multiple liable or at-fault parties when more than one driver took negligent or reckless actions that contributed to the accident. Today we will be discussing how comparative negligence is determined and how it can impact personal injury claims in New Jersey.
Call our office today for a free and confidential consultation if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or any other type of accident.
How is Comparative Negligence Calculated in Monmouth County, NJ?
“Negligence” is a failure to act reasonably and responsibly. In the case of personal injury claims, negligence can be defined as an action or inaction which directly led to an injurious accident. When more than one party acted negligently, they will be assigned a percentage of fault, which directly impacts recoverable damages and what legal rights they have moving forward. Let’s look at an example of comparative negligence and how these percentages can be calculated.
Person A is driving their car while over the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration. They are also speeding and driving recklessly.
Person B is driving while using their mobile phone to make a call without a hands-free device (in violation of NJ state law).
The two vehicles are involved in a T-bone collision at an intersection, causing bodily injury to both drivers and significant damage to the cars. Both drivers were behaving negligently, but the actions of Person A were more egregious, and would, therefore, be given greater weight. In this extreme example, Person A might be found to be 90% at fault while Person B might be found at only 10%.
Red Bank Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss Impact of Comparative Negligence on Personal Injury Claims
Still using the example laid out above, the percentage of fault assigned to each driver will be used to determine what damages to which each driver may be entitled. If Person B (10% liable) filed a personal injury claim and was awarded damages of $1 million, they would actually receive $900,000 or 90% of the total damages. This is one reason why determining the percentage of fault is so critical in personal injury claims. If Person B had been found to be 20% liable rather than 10%, he or she would have missed out on $100,000 in compensation.
Another key factor in comparative negligence cases is liability cut-off. Plaintiffs must not be more so at fault than the individual against whom they are filing a claim. So for two (2) party incidents, individuals are only entitled to financial compensation if they are at most 50% at fault for the accident. Going back to our example, Person A would not be able to recover 10% damages from Person B.
In more complicated cases, this cut-off figure can be different. For example if there was a traffic collision in which three parties were found to be 20%, 30%, and 50% liable respectively, the individual found to be 50% liable would not be able to seek damages from the other two as the plaintiff, in that case, would have a greater degree of fault than the party being sued.
Finding full and fair compensation for our clients very often entails matters of comparative negligence. Holding the responsible parties responsible for their actions while limiting the exposure of our clients leads to larger payouts while lessening the risk of being counter-sued.
Contact our West Long Branch Personal Injury Lawyers Today
The personal injury attorneys of Chamlin, Rosen, Uliano & Witherington understand that in complex personal injury claims, issues surrounding comparative negligence can mean the difference between full and fair settlements and walking away empty-handed. We take pride in protecting the legal rights of our clients in our local New Jersey communities including West Long Branch, Red Bank, Freehold, Middletown, Hotel, Long Branch, Ocean County, and the greater Monmouth County area. Lean on our extensive experience and intimate knowledge of personal injury law to seek to ensure your family’s financial future.