What if I’m Partially at Fault for a Car Accident in New Jersey?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathleen M. Reilly with Brady Brady & Reilly, LLC.
Car accidents are inherently chaotic situations, and it can be difficult to tell at first who was at fault. In fact, fault, as it appears at the scene may be inaccurate; for example, one driver may believe they are at fault only to learn that the other driver was texting while operating their vehicle at the time of the accident.
This is why car accident attorneys do not recommend admitting any kind of fault prior to a full investigation. It is not uncommon for both parties in a car accident to contribute respectively to the situation that caused the collision. Depending on the state in which the accident occurred, someone who is deemed partially at fault for an accident may or may not be eligible to file a claim for recovery.
New Jersey practices a form of modified comparative negligence.
States that practice comparative negligence typically allow an injured party to seek legal recovery even if they were partially at fault for an accident. However, states that practice modified comparative negligence like New Jersey may require that a driver be less than 50% at fault for the accident to be eligible for compensation. Under New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Act, the amount of damages an eligible car accident victim can receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault they are decided to have.
The jury typically decides the percentage of fault for both parties.
It may help to understand how the percentage of fault is assigned. After a thorough investigation typically conducted by accident reconstruction experts, car accident attorneys, and more, a car accident victim may present their case and their evidence before a court where the jury will then dole out the percentages of fault as they see fit. As long as the jury decides on a percentage under 50%, the car accident victim can receive some amount of compensation, although it may be reduced.
While car accident cases that go to trial are decided by a jury, it may be possible to achieve an estimation prior to trial with the help of an experienced car accident attorney and their investigative team. Utilizing professional aid to assess the percentage of fault you are likely to be assigned can help make the decision for whether or not to settle out of court or pursue your damages via trial.
Anything you say after the accident can be used to prove your fault.
Unfortunately, even something as innocent as a blanket apology can be taken as an admission of fault and later used to make you ineligible for recovery. This is why it is so important to refrain from making any statements at the scene of the accident, to people afterward, and especially on social media. Car accident attorneys typically recommend saying as little as possible before you have the chance to talk to a lawyer and begin an investigation to figure out how the accident actually occurred, as well as what was happening on both sides during the collision.
Insurance companies in particular have been known to twist an accident victim’s words in a way that frees them from paying out the claims they otherwise would have to. The good news is that car accident attorneys typically offer free consultations to accident victims and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients don’t have to pay for their services unless and until they win their case.
To learn more about partial fault in New Jersey car accidents, or for help investigating your claim, reach out to a car accident attorney in the state.