Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of personal injury is that an individual who acts with appropriate caution often suffers injury all because another person did not observe due care. But in many situations, the injury victim may share some degree of fault, as well. The legal term for this is contributory negligence, and New Jersey law has specific ways to handle it in personal injury claims.
New Jersey contributory negligence law permits injury victims to pursue compensation from other liable parties, subject to the following conditions:
Injury victims can only file claims against others when their own negligence is less than the negligence of the other parties.
Victims can only pursue awards reduced by the percentage of their own negligence.
For example, when a car accident victim with 10 percent of liability for the accident sustains $1,000 in medical costs, he or she can pursue 90 percent of the costs, or $900.
But no one involved in an accident can make an arbitrary determination of which parties are liable — or the percentage of liability for each party. And even individuals with relatively minor injuries can experience a degree of shock and confusion during the moments after an accident. This is why insurance companies often advise their policyholders to avoid admitting any degree of liability after an accident.
It makes sense to seek a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case. After hearing your account of the accident, your attorney may determine that you actually bear less responsibility for the accident than you thought, or even no liability at all. And he or she can help educate you in all available legal options, and the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.