Can I Recover for Injuries Sustained in an Accident if I Was Negligent as well?

November 25, 2013

Contributory Negligence in New Jersey

In many personal injury cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant may be, to some degree, at fault for an accident.  For example:

  • A driver slams on the brakes and stops abruptly behind another stopped vehicle.  A distraction with the radio prevented the driver from noticing the car earlier.  Technically, a driver who cannot stop in time behind the distracted driver will be responsible for the accident but the distracted driver can share some of the negligence for this type of accident as well.
  • A doctor fails to diagnose a condition accurately.  The patient, however, did not disclose vital information to the doctor.  In this type of case the patient may share liability or even be identified as the at fault party.
  • A homeowner buys a new power tool and sustains injuries after failing to follow safety precautions.  If the instructions were clear and safety warning labels were prominent, the victim will likely share liability or again may be identified at the at fault party for this accident.

Where an injury victim shares negligence with the other parties, they can still recover so long as their negligence does not exceed that of all the other parties involved.  Pursuant to New Jersey contributory negligence law, however, the damages the plaintiff is entitled to will be reduced proportionately to their degree of fault.  So, for example, if the jury finds that the plaintiff was 20 percent negligent in an action that results in $10,000.00 in damages, the plaintiff would only be permitted to recover $8,000.00 from the defendants.  If, however, the jury determines that the plaintiff’s negligence is 50 percent or more, they would be completely barred from recovering damages against the other parties.

If you were injured in an accident and have questions about liability, contact Randolph Wolf today to discuss your case.

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