When You Share the Responsibility for Injuries You’ve Suffered
It’s not unusual, when you’ve suffered injury in an accident, that a court of law will conclude that you contributed, to some degree, to the events that led to your losses. What are your rights and responsibilities when you have some liability for your own injuries?
Under the laws first established in England, and brought here in colonial times, the doctrine of contributory negligence applied when an injured person caused his or her losses, in whole or in part. Under the principle of contributory negligence, a person who caused his or her own injuries, in any way and to any degree, could not recover monetary damages from another person. In practice, the law came to be perceived as often unfair, allowing grossly negligent defendants to escape responsibility if they could show the slightest carelessness or negligence by the injured party.
In response to those perceptions, New Jersey and all other states have replaced the doctrine of contributory negligence with the concept of comparative negligence. In a comparative negligence scheme, the court first makes a determination of the total amount of a plaintiff’s losses. The court then establishes the degree or extent to which the plaintiff contributed to his or her injuries. The total damage amount is then reduced by that percentage. For example, if a person sustained $100,000 in losses in a motor vehicle accident, but was deemed 25% responsible, the award will be reduced to $75,000.
The doctrine of comparative negligence has taken two forms—pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. In a pure comparative negligence jurisdiction, the injured party will always receive something, even if he or she is primarily responsible for injuries suffered. In a modified comparative negligence state, such as New Jersey, the plaintiff must stay below a specific threshold of liability, typically 50%. If he or she exceeds that degree of responsibility, no damages are recoverable.
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges, including people who have sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.