Fault in a motor vehicle crash isn’t always a black-and-white situation. Sometimes, no one thinks they were at fault. There are many circumstances where both parties involved in a crash had some kind of contributing role.
For example, you may have been hit by a driver who did not stop at an intersection, but maybe you didn’t use your blinker before turning. While their degree of fault is obviously higher because they failed to stop as they should have, your failure to use the blinker might have impacted their driving decisions and indirectly helped cause the crash.
In a situation where you have at least a small amount of responsibility for a car wreck, does that affect your rights? Can you still file an insurance claim or a lawsuit after a collision in New Jersey if you played a minor role in the crash?
Comparative negligence can affect your rights and your compensation
New Jersey state law does recognize comparative negligence. This legal term refers to the contributions of each party involved in a crash or other situation where someone gets hurt.
In the previously discussed scenario with a driver who ran a stop sign striking someone who didn’t use their turn signal, each driver has some degree of fault for the collision. Insurance adjusters or the courts themselves will assign a percentage of fault to each driver.
When you file a lawsuit for a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy, your percentage of comparative negligence will affect how much compensation you can receive. If you have more than 50% of the fault for the crash, you may not be able to make a claim at all unless you file it through your own insurance policy.
How comparative negligence reduces your compensation
Given that the courts express comparative negligence in percentages, they can easily apply that percentage to any award in a lawsuit. The percent of fault you have will carry over to your compensation award and reduce it by the same percent.
Pushing back against the allocated percentage of fault could help you get more compensation. You may even be able to present an alternative explanation of the crash where you don’t have comparative negligence at all.