If I Have Contributed to My Injuries, Can I Still Seek Damages?

Posted By Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law

13 Mar. 2013

In the state of New Jersey, anyone who has been injured by another person's negligent actions is entitled to pursue compensation in civil court. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, one may be able to request damages for both economic and non-economic losses—which would include factors like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, etc. But what happens when the victim had a hand in causing their own injuries? Well, personal injury cases are handled on the basis of "modified comparative negligence" in New Jersey, which means that the plaintiff can only recover an amount of compensation that is indicative of their own level of culpability. If, for example, the victim had been crossing the street illegally at the time that they were hit by a drunk driver, their negligence must also be taken into consideration.

When the case is brought to court, a judge or jury would be responsible for determining each party's level of fault—meaning both the plaintiff and the defendant(s). If it is decided that the victim was less than 51% responsible for contributing to their own harm, they would still be able to recover a portion of the original damages. The subsequent award would just be diminished by their deemed percentage of fault. For example, the plaintiff would be entitled to $80,000 if they were found to be 20% responsible for causing an accident that resulted in $100,000 in damages. If it was decided that they were more than 51% at fault, however, they would be entitled to nothing. They would also be putting themselves at risk of being targeted in a counter-lawsuit—as the defendant would then have a legitimate reason to turn around and sue the plaintiff, if they too have been injured.

For this reason, it is crucial that you consult with a Bergen County personal injury lawyer before initiating any sort of lawsuit in New Jersey. You will want to ensure that your own level of responsibility is factored into the equation when deciding on what course of action to take, as you could face serious ramifications later on if you fail to do so. With an experienced legal professional by your side, however, you can move forward with confidence. As such, the legal team at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law encourages you to get in touch with the firm as soon as possible. When you call our office at (201) 870-1909, you are guaranteed to hear back from us within 12 hours. You can also reach us online by submitting a free case evaluation form directly from our website – click here to get started.

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