What Is Modified Comparative Negligence, and How Does it Impact Your Personal Injury Case?

Date: May 23, 2024
Car accident

In a personal injury case, you must show that someone else was responsible for your injuries.  The final element of the legal test for negligence is that the party you are suing was the one who was the cause. If you were to blame for the accident, someone else would not be the cause, and you would not qualify for financial compensation.

There is a question of whether you can receive a settlement check when you are partially to blame for the accident. Different states use tests to determine whether you can still be paid when you are somewhat to blame. Some states allow you to receive money so long as you are less than 100 percent to blame for the accident, while others bar you from recovering anything if you were even 1 percent responsible for what happened. Modified comparative negligence is the middle ground and the law in New Jersey.

In modified comparative negligence, you can receive compensation if you were less than 50 percent to blame for the accident. Your compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear for the accident. When you bear more than half of the responsibility, you are barred from receiving any compensation.

An example of how modified comparative negligence works could be when you were speeding when someone else ran a red light and struck your car. In most cases, the driver who has failed to yield the right of way is responsible for the accident. However, what you did may have also contributed to the accident, even if it was not major. The insurance companies could determine that your speeding was 20 percent of the cause of the accident. If you were otherwise entitled to $100,000 in damages, you would only end up with $80,000 in this case.

You Could Be Blamed for the Accident

Insurance companies will often try to blame you, partly to reduce their liability. Your personal injury lawyer will have two tasks in your case. They would need to prove that the other driver was responsible, and they would need to defend you from any allegations about your conduct. If the insurance company raises your fault, your attorney must present evidence that shows what you did to defend you from these allegations. Your financial compensation could be at stake. 

You Do Not Have to Accept Blame for the Accident

If your claim has been denied because the insurance company says that you are at fault or they are unreasonably assigning you part of the blame, you have the means to fight back. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can continue to negotiate with the insurance company on the issue of fault. Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible driver, and a jury would determine who was to blame and assign percentages of fault. However, you also take the risk that a jury would not rule in your favor, and you could come away empty-handed. 

Either way, you must be extremely careful about talking to the insurance company. Anything you say could be used against you as an admission. The insurance company may try to reduce your compensation because it believes you are admitting fault on record.

Contact Our New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC to Learn More

Our New Jersey car accident lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC know your financial future can be at stake after a crash. We will work to represent your legal interests and push back when you are being unfairly blamed for the accident. The first step is to schedule a free initial consultation by calling us today at 732-920-8383 or contacting us online. Located in Manasquan and Brick, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County.