Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
In the United States, over 37,000 people die each year in car accidents, and hundreds of thousands more are injured in such incidents. However, multiple parties in a crash could be at fault for its occurrence. In New Jersey, a comparative negligence standard is used to determine how damages are awarded in such a scenario. A personal injury lawyer can explain comparative negligence laws.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
If a state has a comparative negligence statute, it means that a jury is allowed to assign fault proportionally in an accident case. For example, the jury could determine that one party was 30 percent liable for a crash while another party was 70 percent liable for the same collision. Therefore, an injured victim who was partially at fault could still recover 70 percent of any damages that he or she was awarded by that jury.
What Is Modified Comparative Negligence?
In a modified comparative negligence state, an injured victim cannot collect damages if his or her liability for an accident was greater than 50 percent. This means that if a person was determined to be 51 percent responsible for an accident that resulted in injuries, he or she could recover nothing as a victim. That individual would be required to pay all of his or her current and future medical expenses and any other costs associated with the matter.
Determination of Liability in an Accident
In a car accident case, there are several pieces of information investigators will use to determine the cause and who was at fault. For instance, the operator of a vehicle that collides with another from behind is generally liable for any resulting damages. However, if the vehicle that was hit had stopped suddenly for no reason, its driver could be deemed partially responsible for the crash that occurred.
Let’s say that a driver was hit from the side by a drunk or otherwise distracted driver. The driver who was distracted may be considered to be acting in a negligent manner. However, if the driver of the vehicle that was hit was going too fast for road conditions or ran a red light, that factor can also be considered negligent.
Steps Drivers Can Take After an Accident
There are many steps an accident victim may take to mitigate the perception of his or her own liability. First, as much evidence as possible should be gathered to verify that the other driver’s actions were what primarily led to the crash that took place. For example, a victim could use video footage from a traffic camera to show that the other driver failed to slow down at an intersection or stop at a red light.
A victim can also take witness statements or use a police report to show that another driver or some third party was responsible for the occurrence of an accident. Photographs from the scene as well as statements to an insurance company can also work to show that an injured driver was hurt in an accident caused by someone else.
What Are the Alternatives for a Driver Who Is Found Mostly Liable?
If a driver is found to be mostly liable for a crash, it may be possible to appeal the ruling. If a judge is unwilling to reconsider the verdict, a personal injury lawyer acting as the client’s legal representative can ask for a new trial. Typically, a personal injury attorney such as one from RAM Law will state the reasons why he or she believes that the original decision was improper or otherwise incorrect.
It is important to note that the other parties involved in the case could also choose to appeal a verdict against them. In some cases, an accident victim may prevail at one stage while losing in another court. It is also possible for a jury award to be reduced or otherwise changed on appeal.
Finally, injured victims should be aware that it is possible to settle a case at any point during the legal process. This can even happen after a trial starts or after a jury has ruled. An attorney may be able to advise an individual as to whether it is a good idea to settle as opposed to pursuing further legal action.
Those who are looking for a personal injury attorney may benefit from contacting Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit us at 21 North Bridge Street, Somerville, NJ 08876. The phone number for the Somerville location is (908) 448-2560. We also have an office at 111 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, and the phone number for that location is (732) 247-3600.