How Will It Affect Your Right to Recovery after an Accident?
When you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall, you have a right to bring a personal injury claim against any other party who acted carelessly or negligently, causing the accident and your injuries. But what if you were partially at fault? What if you were injured when another motorist failed to stop at a red light or stop sign, but you were speeding at the time of the crash? What if you slipped and fell on a slippery floor after disregarding a sign warning you of the potential danger?
The Legal Principle of Comparative Negligence
It’s fairly common, in accidents that lead to personal injury, for both parties to have been careless. For many years, the principle of “contributory negligence” applied to such situations. Under that legal theory, if the injured party “contributed” in any way, regardless how insignificant, to causing the accident, there could be no recovery for any losses. In response to the perception that such a rule often unjustly punished a relatively innocent victim at the hands of an egregiously careless or negligent person, the state of New Jersey, like most other states, replaced the concept of contributory negligence with the legal theory of “comparative negligence.”
With the comparative negligence approach, the court first identifies the total amount of loss sustained by the injured party. Once that has been calculated, the court determines the extent to which the injured party caused the accident, stated as a percentage of liability. The court then reduces the total amount of the loss by the percentage of liability. For example, if an injured party sustains $1 million in losses, but is deemed to be 30% responsible for the accident, the damage award will be reduced by $300,000 (30% of $1 million).
There’s another wrinkle, though, to the New Jersey comparative negligence law. New Jersey adheres to a “modified comparative negligence” approach, which means that an injured party may only recover damages if his or her liability was less than that of the other parties (essentially less than 50%).
Contact the Cintron Firm
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. 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.