One of the biggest reasons that people miss out on recovering the significant financial settlement or verdict they rightfully deserve after an accident is because they are afraid they cannot recover due to their role in the accident. Sometimes people get this impression because a defendant intimidates them or tries to place the blame for the accident on them. Sometimes this happens simply because they falsely believe that they are not allowed to recover in a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey when they themselves were partially at fault in causing the accident. Under New Jersey law, plaintiffs can indeed recover from negligent defendants in many personal injury cases even if they were partially at fault, although their fault will play a role in how much they can recover.
New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Statute
Long ago, it was the case that, where a plaintiff did act carelessly and this – along with the defendant’s careless actions – caused the accident, the plaintiff could never successfully recover, even if the defendant was 99% at fault. That is no longer the case in most states, and New Jersey has adopted a comparative negligence statute which says that, so long as the plaintiff is not more than 50% at fault in causing the accident, 1) he can recover from a negligent defendant; and 2) his recovery will be reduced by his percentage of fault.
How Comparative Negligence Works in New Jersey
Let’s take a look at how this works by way of several examples.
If a pedestrian is injured by a driver who was texting and driving and suffered $300,000 in damages, but the pedestrian was jaywalking, the driver might argue that the pedestrian was negligent by not crossing at a crosswalk.
The question of who was at fault, and their respective percentages of fault would go to a jury. If the jury decides the pedestrian was 25% at fault in causing the accident and the driver was 75% at fault, then the pedestrian can recover because he was not more than 50% at fault. But his recovery will be reduced by 25% due to his fault, and so he will recover $225,000, which is $300,000 reduced by 25%.
Taking a different example, let’s say a bicyclist is riding drunk at night the wrong way down a one-way street without lights and is hit by that same texting-and-driving driver and suffers $500,000 in damages. The jury might decide the bicyclist is 55% at fault and the driver 45% at fault. If that happens, the bicyclist will recover nothing because the jury found him more than 50% at fault.
But, if the jury finds that the bicyclist is 50% at fault, then he can recover and will be able to obtain $250,000, which is $500,000 reduced by 50%.
Clearly, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to make your best case to the jury regarding not only the relative negligence of the defendant but also defend you from allegations of comparative negligence can mean the difference between an enormous recovery and walking away with nothing. At SK Law, we aggressively investigate the facts and present your best arguments to opposing counsel, judges, and juries to help you win maximum recovery.
Talk to an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have suffered injury due to the negligent, careless, or intentional acts of another, the experienced personal injury attorneys at SK Law – with offices in New Jersey and New York – are here to help. We have won millions in compensation for our clients, and we are here to stand by your side as your allies and champions in winning the recovery you deserve from all potential defendants. Our attorneys have built up a strong reputation for providing compassionate legal counsel to those who have suffered serious injury while aggressively and quickly taking all necessary legal action to recover for our clients to get their lives back to normal by winning compensation for all costs, losses, and pain and suffering. Contact us today to speak to a personal injury attorney about your claim.