A car accident can happen so fast that it’s hard to remember exactly who did what — and insurance companies try to use that to their advantage.
How? They usually start by partly blaming the victim for either the crash or their own injuries in an effort to reduce their own liability. In New Jersey, if they’re successful, they could even eliminate their entire obligation to pay for any damages.
New Jersey uses a modified comparative negligence system
Every state handles personal injury claims differently. New Jersey uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence system that can sharply limit the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover if the insurance company can shift some of the blame for the crash their way.
Under New Jersey’s modified comparative negligence rules, each party to an accident can be assessed a certain percentage of fault if they were in any way responsible for what happened. If an injury victim is more than 50% at fault for their own condition, they cannot collect any kind of compensation for their losses.
Even if they’re below that 51% threshold and can still collect something, what they are owed will be reduced according to the percent of fault they’ve been allocated. In practical terms, that works like this: You were in a crash with a driver who crossed right in front of you, against the light.
The driver was cited because they clearly violated traffic laws. However, the insurance company says that you were at least 50% responsible for your own injuries because you didn’t put your seat belt on that morning. Although you have $100,000 worth of medical bills and lost wages, you’ll only receive $50,000 in compensation.
If you’ve been in a crash in New Jersey, you need to fiercely protect your interests. Don’t speak to an insurance company’s adjuster until you’ve had a chance to learn more.