What is comparative negligence and why is it important?

If you have sustained an injury because of someone else’s negligence, you may have a right to receive financial compensation. However, if the other party claims that you caused your own injuries, you might think pursuing a lawsuit is a waste of time.

After an accident, you should understand New Jersey’s comparative negligence law and how it affects your case.

Comparative negligence

In New Jersey, personal injury cases rely on a comparative negligence law. This means that you do not need to be completely blameless to win your case; you only need to be less at fault than the defendant.

Determining fault

In your personal injury case, the defendant might argue that the injury was at least partly your fault.

In a car accident, you may be partially at fault if you were speeding, distracted or disobeying traffic signals or signs when the accident occurred. In a slip and fall case, the defendant may claim that you ignored warning signs or entered a restricted area.

Even if the defendant has evidence that you were at fault, this does not mean it is not worthwhile to pursue your case.

Assigning a percentage

The court must determine what percentage of fault lies with each party in your case. This percentage is important for two reasons. First, you can not receive damages if the court finds that you are more than 50% at fault. Second, the court will reduce your damages according to your percentage of fault. For example, if your damages total $4,000 and you are 25% at fault, the court will deduct $1,000 from your compensation.

In New Jersey, you need not be blameless to receive compensation for an injury. The state’s comparative negligence law means that you might receive damages even if you are partly to blame.