In New Jersey, if you have been involved in a car accident you might have heard about something known as “comparative negligence.” This is negligence that comes into play to dictate the amount of fault that each individual played in contribution to a car accident. The insurance company will investigate the accident and see how much fault is placed on each individual in the accident. However, all drivers must remember that they are not permitted to use the comparative negligence system if they are actively seeking reimbursement from their own insurance company. However, when pursuing a claim against the other driver, that driver’s insurance company will determine whether or not fault can be applied to them in regards to the accident.
There are many questions you may have regarding comparative negligence in New Jersey. Here are some of the most common questions and answers, available to you:
What is the comparative negligence law in New Jersey? New Jersey has a statute known as NJSA 2A:15-5.2 that explains the laws governing comparative negligence. The law in New Jersey does not outright provide the specific guidelines for determining fault. Instead, it is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific circumstances regarding the accident.
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How does the law work? Insurance companies are able to determine responsibility in an accident under the Comparative Negligence Act. Some of the determinations they make regarding fault for the accident include failing to observe and avoid a vehicle, failing to sound a horn, and driver inattention.
How is a determination made on the degree of negligence? The claims adjuster will actually determine the degree of negligence based on what they see. It will be in terms of percentage, such as 80% or 50%. Here is an example of exactly how this works:
Say that Gerald is making a left turn in front of Kiera. Kiera is driving through the intersection too quickly when the accident occurs. She decides that she is going to sue Gerald for her injuries. Under comparative negligence, Gerald may be found to be 80% at fault for hitting her, though she will still be 20% at fault for speeding when the accident occurred. If she is awarded $100,000 for her injuries, she will only receive $80,000 of that based on her degree of fault at 20%.
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What happens if my fault is greater than the other driver’s? Will I be able to collect from the driver’s insurance company? No, you will not be able to collect damages in this case. Your fault for the accident can’t be more than the individual’s from whom the damages are sought.
What if I want to make a dispute? In some cases, you may think that the percentage assigned to you is unfair. Because of this, you should take the issue up with the claims adjuster, who should look into the Internal Appeal Process. This is a great way for you to have your claim reviewed if you think that there is a problem.
What happens if the Internal Appeal is denied? The insurance company must always conduct a thorough investigation before a denial. However, when disputes come about such as why one party believes that they are not at fault, this becomes difficult for the court to decide. They must be able to determine which statement is accurate and the issues regarding it. It may be in your best interest to talk to the County Court Clerk to discuss the issues regarding your case and what can be done about it.
Car accidents can be devastating on both a physical and emotional level. This is why, if you were involved in an accident and have been at fault or another party was totally negligent, you should have good legal representation on your side throughout the process. Find out more today by calling Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi and see how we can help you!