Car accidents are no fun. We can all agree they can be scary and impact us both physically and mentally. As soon as an accident occurs, all parties involved want to determine who is at fault. The last thing you want to hear is that you may be at fault in the accident alongside the driver of the other vehicle(s). This will happen at times, and when it does, it's referred to as "shared fault".

Because of this "shared fault" concept, a number of questions may arise for New Jersey accident victims. How do you assess fault in an accident when two parties share some of the blame? And, are both of them eligible to claim compensation for their injuries or damages?

These questions are relevant and we will help answer them in the article below. However, don't rely solely on the information here, obtain legal counsel. A qualified New Jersey auto accident lawyer, such as those at Brandon J. Broderick, can help you find the answers you are looking for and determine the value of your case.

Shared Fault in New Jersey Explained

In car accidents where one party is seeking compensation from another, New Jersey's comparative negligence act is applied. Under the law, the court can assess the plaintiff's compensation by assigning fault for the accident among the parties involved. The term "shared fault" describes this situation, where the court finds that each party contributed to the incident and that no one side is 100% at fault.

The plaintiff cannot receive damages for negligence resulting in injury or death, under N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.1, if it is found that the plaintiff's fault is greater than the defendant. In addition, the amount awarded will be reduced by the proportion of fault the court assigns to the plaintiff.

The amount of compensation will be based on the percentage of fault assigned to you in an accident. $80,000 would be awarded if the overall damages amount to $100,000 and you were determined to be 20% at fault for the accident, for example.

New Jersey's Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

To determine possible shared fault, New Jersey uses a modified form of comparative negligence (sometimes called "proportionate responsibility") rather than pure comparative negligence.

If the plaintiff is found to have been more at fault in the accident than the defendant, the plaintiff will not be awarded any compensation under the modified comparative negligence rule. This is different from pure comparative negligence, where a plaintiff can collect damages, even if they are more at fault, but their award will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.

Under New Jersey's rule, no compensation would be rewarded if you are 51% at fault.

How is Fault Determined in a New Jersey Car Accident?

After a car accident, there are sometimes conflicting perspectives on who was at fault. To begin with, if law enforcement was called to the scene, the responding officer's accident report may include his or her assessment of the situation, including potential fault. Likewise, insurance firms may reach their own judgments about who was at fault for an accident if the parties involved file claims. In the end, if an automobile accident leads to a lawsuit, the jury or judge will decide who was at fault and how much fault each party bears if more than one person or party was involved in the accident.

When determining who was at fault in a car accident, the following pieces of evidence may be considered:

  • The police or accident report
  • Photos or video from the scene of the accident
  • Traffic camera, security camera or dashcam footage
  • Testimony from an eyewitnesses
  • Electronic data recorder logs
  • Vehicles inspections after the accident
  • Reports by professional accident investigators

FYI: New Jersey is a No-Fault State

In many cases of car accidents in New Jersey, determining fault is not relevant when it comes to recovering compensation. Why? Because New Jersey is a "no-fault" state, which means that your own insurance is responsible for your medical coverage.

New Jersey law says that drivers and passengers first turn to their own auto insurance policies, which requires personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for medical costs and lost wages related to injuries sustained in a car accident.

In order to sue a negligent driver for damages, the victim of an accident must either have purchased "full tort" coverage when obtaining their vehicle insurance or suffer injuries that are above the "verbal threshold." Injuries that result in permanent scarring or disfigurement, permanent incapacity, permanent impairment of physical function, or the loss of body parts are common examples of those that exceed this threshold.

The Car Accident Lawyers at Brandon J. Broderick Can Help In Shared Fault Cases

New Jersey's contributory negligence statutes can severely limit or even eliminate a plaintiff's compensation in a car accident, personal injury or negligence case, so it's important that you have a solid legal team to rely on.

In court, the defendant's lawyers will try to prove that you were at-fault for the accident, so you need a legal team who will make sure the guilty party pays and you get fair compensation for your injuries.

Contact us at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law so that we can discuss the specifics of your case and determine how we can help defend your rights and pursue financial compensation.

Posted by: Brandon J. Bro…
Date: Tue, 10/04/2022 - 20:10

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