car accident scene

How Comparative Fault Can Impact Your New Jersey Personal Injury Case

By Greg Kohn

In the aftermath of an accident, you may find yourself wondering how fault is determined and how it can impact your personal injury case. Comparative fault is a crucial factor in New Jersey law that can significantly influence the outcome of your claim. Understanding how comparative fault works is essential for protecting your rights and maximizing your chances of receiving fair compensation. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys break down this concept for you.

Understanding Comparative Fault in New Jersey

In New Jersey, comparative fault refers to the legal principle that assigns responsibility and compensates parties involved in an accident based on their degree of fault. Unlike states with a “pure” comparative fault system where even partially at-fault parties can recover damages, New Jersey follows a “modified” comparative fault rule. This means that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you may be barred from receiving compensation. However, if you are determined to be 50% or less at fault, your compensation will be reduced proportionally to your degree of fault.

Legal Consequences of Comparative Fault in New Jersey

The impact of comparative fault on your personal injury case can be significant. It can affect the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive. For instance, if you are awarded $200,000 in damages but found to be 20% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 20% to $160,000. However, if you are deemed to be more than 50% at fault, you may not be able to recover any damages at all. It’s important to understand that insurance companies and opposing parties will often use comparative fault arguments to minimize their liability and reduce the amount they have to pay.

Determining Comparative Fault in New Jersey

Determining the degree of fault in a personal injury case involves evaluating various factors such as negligence, actions or inactions, adherence to safety protocols, and compliance with traffic laws. It requires a thorough investigation of the accident scene, gathering witness statements, reviewing medical records, and consulting with experts if necessary. Presenting strong evidence and persuasive legal arguments is crucial in establishing the degree of fault of each party involved.

Impact on Compensation

The impact of comparative fault on compensation can be complex. Let’s consider an example: If you were injured in a car accident and it is determined that you were 30% at fault for the collision, your compensation will be reduced by 40%. So, if your total damages amount to $50,000, you would still be entitled to receive $30,000. It’s important to remember that the goal is to recover as much compensation as possible, even if comparative fault plays a role in the final amount awarded.

Defenses Based on Comparative Fault

Defendants in personal injury cases often employ defenses based on comparative fault to shift blame or responsibility. They may argue that your own negligence or actions contributed to the accident, seeking to reduce or eliminate their liability. It’s crucial to have a skilled personal injury attorney who can counter these defenses and protect your rights. Your attorney will work diligently to gather evidence, build a strong case, and challenge any attempts to undermine your claim based on comparative fault.

What To Do Next

Understanding how comparative fault can impact your personal injury case is vital in navigating the complexities of New Jersey law. Being aware of the legal consequences, the determination process, and the potential impact on compensation will empower you to protect your rights effectively. If you’ve been injured in an accident, consult with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process, advocate for your best interests, and help you pursue fair compensation. Remember, you deserve the opportunity to recover from your injuries and move forward with your life.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.