It is sometimes easy to determine who is a fault for causing a motor vehicle accident. Other times responsibility for causing an accident is harder to determine and more than one driver may share in the fault. In order to determine who the "at fault" driver is, it is important to look at the circumstances of how that particular car accident played out. Sometimes; for example, in the case of someone running a stop sign and broadsiding another vehicle, it can be easy to determine who is at fault, but other times it's not as easy. This is true even in one or two-car accidents and becomes even more likely in accidents involving three or more vehicles. Filing a claim for a car accident that was partly your fault is possible but it's best to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer about your case.
Can I File a Claim if a Car Accident Was Partly My Fault?
In short, yes, in New Jersey, you have rights to compensation or damages even if a car accident was party your fault. Insurance companies look at several factors when determining fault and assign liability as a percentage. In New Jersey, if an accident was less than 50 percent your fault, you can still receive compensation for your damages.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident
Legal responsibility for a car accident usually boils down to whether the person or entity at fault acted negligently in causing the car accident. In some cases, such as a drunk driving accident, it can be easily established that the act of criminal negligence is what caused the accident and the person should be held liable for the damages.
An experienced car accident attorney and the different insurance companies of the parties involved may look at the evidence and several factors when determining and assigning liability. These include:
- Road and weather conditions at the time of the crash
- Accident location
- Electronic data from recording instruments
- Driver actions
- Any violations by drivers of traffic laws at the time of the crash
- Witness statements
- Law enforcement follow-up actions
- Type and location of the vehicles’ damages
- Accident report information
In multi-vehicle accidents, often more than one driver makes a mistake. For example, one driver may be speeding while another driver rolls through a red light. Both drivers’ actions contribute to the crash. In this case, an insurance company determines to what extent each party is liable and assigns a percentage. This is called comparative negligence.
Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
Comparative negligence law in New Jersey may affect your claim for damages. The law in New Jersey does not list any specific guidelines for assessing fault in a car accident claim. Instead, the amount of fault is determined on a case-by-case basis, and it all depends on the circumstances of the accident.
Under the Comparative Negligence Act, insurance carriers are allowed to determine liability for an accident based on the relative fault of the involved parties. Once the insurer reviews the facts of the case, it assigns a percentage of liability upon the parties involved.
The insurance carrier considers:
- Driver distraction or impairment
- Whether traffic violations occurred
- Failing to observe the other vehicle
- Failure to use signals or the horn
- Failure to apply the brakes
- Failure to avoid the other vehicle
Under New Jersey's insurance law, the monetary compensation or damages you can receive are reduced by the percentage that you are at fault. For example, if you were considered 10% at fault and your damage was $10,000, you could receive $9000 from the other driver's insurance company. Of note, if you are found more liable for the accident than the other driver (i.e. more than 50% your fault), you will receive no financial compensation.
Brandon J. Broderick, Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
Pursuing a legal claim for a car accident may seem like a daunting task but we encourage you to consider allowing our team of attorneys at Brandon J Broderick to help you through the process. Even if a car accident was partly your fault, without a legal claim, the insurance company can offer you a lowball offer that barely covers any of your needs and may even refuse to cover some of the damages. You may be left having to pay for the costs of your injuries on your own. Contact us today and let us turn your setback into a comeback.