Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

What Happens If You Were Partially at Fault for Causing Your Own Injury?

Comparative Negligence in New JerseyWhen you’ve suffered losses because of someone else’s wrongful act, you have a right to seek compensation from any party whose negligence caused your injuries. But what if you were careless at the time of the accident and your carelessness contributed to the factors that led to the accident? Can you still recover for your losses?

Contributory Negligence in New Jersey

Before 1970, the legal concept of contributory negligence applied in cases where an injured party was responsible, in any way and to any degree, for his or her losses. Under this rule, a person had no right to recover compensation after an accident if he or she engaged in any wrongful conduct that led to the accident. In practice, this rule led to many unjust results, where victims who were only negligibly careless were left without recourse against defendants who were grossly negligent.

Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

In 1970, the state of New Jersey replaced the doctrine of contributory negligence with comparative negligence. Under this approach:

  • The court first determines the full extent of the injured party’s losses
  • The court then establishes the degree to which the injured party “caused” the accident, stated as a percentage of liability
  • The injured party’s damage award is reduced by the percentage of liability

For example, a person may be injured in a motor vehicle accident, sustaining total losses of $750,000. The jury may determine, though, that the injured party (plaintiff) engaged in wrongful conduct that caused the accident and may allocate 20% of the responsibility for the accident to the plaintiff. The damage award will then be offset by $150,000 (20% of $750,000).

Furthermore, New Jersey has adopted a form of comparative negligence known as modified comparative negligence. Under this approach, an injured party may only recover damages if his or her liability is less than 50%.

Contact New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Matthew V. Markosian

At the office of attorney Matthew V. Markosian, we provide a free initial consultation to anyone with a potential personal injury claim. To set up a private meeting, call our offices at 609-455-2090 or contact us by email. We are available evenings and weekends, upon request. Because of our proven record of success, many of our new cases come to us as referrals from other attorneys, or from former clients.

We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency basis. We won’t bill you attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

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