Can I Recover Compensation If I Contributed to an Accident?
If you were in an accident that you contributed to, you may be wondering if you can pursue compensation for the damages your injury caused. Before you take the next steps in pursing compensation, you should know about New Jersey’s comparative negligence law.
The experienced Hasbrouck Heights, NJ personal injury lawyers at the Lynch Law Firm, PC can discuss these important laws with you. If you do have a viable claim, we can discuss how we can help and explain your legal options to you.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the failure of someone to exercise the level of care that a reasonably sensible person would exercise under the same circumstances. Negligence may be based on the legal responsibility of one person to another, such as every motorist driving in a safe manner and following the rules of the road or the responsibility of a property owner to keep his or her property safe so it does not pose an unnecessary risk of harm to other people.
The legal principle of negligence is used to determine whether someone is legally responsible for the damages a victim sustains in a personal injury accident. If an insurance adjuster, judge or jury determines that one party was negligent, that party can be required to pay damages to the victim, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
New Jersey Negligence Laws
Many personal injury cases involve the negligence of more than one party. For example, a car accident may involve one driver who was speeding and another who ran a stop light or was distracted. New Jersey’s comparative negligence law accounts for these types of situations.
While some states have pure comparative negligence systems in which any negligence on the part of the victim can bar a claim completely, New Jersey’s comparative negligence law specifically states that comparative negligence is not a bar to recovery. This applies to damages resulting from cases involving personal injury, property damage and wrongful death.
New Jersey uses a modified comparative negligence system, which only allows recovery for negligent actions in cases in which the victim’s own negligence is less than that of the defendant. If there is more than one defendant, the victim’s own negligence cannot be greater than the combined negligence of the defendants. Another way of saying this is you cannot be more than 50 percent at fault and recover compensation.
If your negligence contributed to the accident, and it is not greater than 50 percent, the amount of your recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were speeding in a car accident and are found 30 percent at-fault for the accident and the other driver was texting and driving and was found 70 percent at-fault, your award would be reduced by 30 percent. So, if you sustained $500,000 worth of damages, $150,000 of these damages would be taken out of your final award since you were found to be 30 percent responsible for the accident. The most you would be able to recover in this situation is $350,000.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Lawyer
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important that you understand your rights. At Lynch Law Firm, PC we can determine whether you have a viable claim even if you contributed to the accident. We can explain how the law affects you and the potential value of your claim.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We charge no upfront fees and work on a contingency fee case. This means that you will not be charged if we do not obtain compensation on your behalf.
Fill out our online form today.