What is Comparative Negligence within Personal Injury Claims?

The crux of most personal injury claims is finding the responsible party and holding them liable. However, not all accidents are cut and dry with only a single at fault party. Many cases involving car accidentsmotorcycle accidentstruck accidentsdog bites, or any other type of accident, involve multiple liable parties. In these situations, is it still possible for injury victims to recover damages? Through New Jersey comparative negligence laws, it is possible for victims to recover compensation through personal injury claims even if they are partially at fault.

Today, our personal injury attorneys will define comparative negligence, identify what parties may be impacted, and discuss how these statutes may impact personal injury claims.

N.J.S.A. 2A: 15-5.1 Comparative Negligence: Princeton, NJ Personal Injury Lawyers

As per New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2A:15-5.1 – contributory negligence; elimination as bar to recovery; comparative negligence to determine damages, it is possible for a partially at fault party too seek damages so long as they are not more at fault than the other party. To illustrate this point, our Princeton personal injury lawyers will examine a hypothetical example:

Susan is driving along I-95 near New Brunswick in her family sedan. Matthew is driving behind her in a pickup truck. Susan receives a text message, picks up her phone, and begins to text back. Matthew attempts to change lanes to pass Susan while speeding and driving recklessly. The two vehicles collide resulting in property damage and physical injury to both parties.

Whether Susan, Matthew, or both will be eligible to financial compensation through a personal injury claim will be dependent on the degree to which each party is liable for the injurious accident. Within personal injury cases, fault is assigned using percentages. If Matthew is found to be 70 percent liable (due to reckless driving) and Susan is found 30 percent liable (due to distracted driving), Susan may sue Matthew but Matthew will not be able to recover damages through a personal injury claim.

How Does Partial Fault Impact Personal Injury Compensation in Mercer County?

Let’s examine this situation further. We have established that comparative negligence laws allow partially at fault parties to successfully recover compensation if they are less liable than the other party. However, partial fault does have an impact on the financial compensation to which partially liable parties are entitled. Our Mercer County comparative negligence attorneys understand that the percentage of fault is still a major factor.

Suppose Susan successfully filed for personal injury damages with Matthew’s auto insurance provider and was awarded $100,000 to cover her injuries and property damage. In a typical case, that money would go straight to Susan. However, when the plaintiff is partially at fault for the injurious accident, the financial awards are reduced.

In this case, we have established that Susan was found to be 30 percent liable for the accident. Therefore, 30 percent of the total awarded damages will be eliminated from her compensation package. At the end of the day, Susan would walk away with a $70,000 settlement or verdict based on the $100,000 settlement minus 30 percent ($30,000). This is important to understand as a qualified attorney will fight to not only reach a successful conclusion to your case, but also to have your percentage of fault reduced as much as possible to allow the largest possible financial payout.

Contact our Trenton Comparative Negligence PI Attorneys Today

The personal injury attorneys of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson have been serving Mercer County clients in towns across Trenton, Lawrence, Princeton, Hamilton, New Brunswick, and all of Central New Jersey since 1972. We understand that recovering full and fair compensation is not just a matter of successfully resolving your claim, it is a matter of protecting your financial future for years to come. Our firm takes pride in offering high quality legal service while upholding strict ethical and professional standards. With offices in Trenton, NJ and Bensalem, PA, we are prepared to handle all manner of personal injury legal disputes for our clients.

To learn more about how your injury may lead to a successful personal injury settlement or verdict, please contact us online or call our Trenton offices today at (609) 528-2596 for a free and confidential consultation.