Understanding Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
When you’ve been hurt because of the careless or wrongful acts of another person, you have a right to seek monetary compensation for your losses. But what if you were also negligent or careless? Suppose another person is exceeding the speed limit in a car, but you fail to stop at a stop sign. If they had been traveling at an appropriate rate of speed, they would have been able to stop in time. If you hadn’t run the stop sign, the accident would not have occurred. Can you still seek damages for your losses?
Though it hasn’t always been the case, the good news is that you can still pursue compensation for injuries suffered in an accident, even if you helped cause the mishap. There are conditions, however. Here’s how it works.
Like all other states, New Jersey has replaced the common law doctrine of contributory negligence with comparative negligence. Under the principle of contributory negligence, any wrongdoing or carelessness on the part of an injured person prevented recovery for any injuries sustained. Unfortunately, in practice, the concept was often harshly applied, with grossly negligent defendants escaping liability by providing evidence of minimal carelessness by an injured person.
Under the comparative negligence approach, the court will determine the total amount of an injured person’s losses, and then reduce that by the degree to which the injured person was responsible. Two forms of comparative negligence have developed:
- Pure comparative negligence, where the injured party always receives something, unless the jury finds him/her fully responsible
- Modified comparative negligence, where the injured party only receives compensation if his or her negligence does not cross a certain threshold, typically 50%.
New Jersey is a modified comparative negligence state.
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At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we bring more than 14 years of experience individuals who have suffered any type of personal injury. To set up an appointment, contact our office at 201-791-1333 or 917-494-5695 or send us an e-mail.