According to the 2022 New Jersey State Police fatal crash report, traffic-related deaths “continue to remain one of the leading causes of death in New Jersey and throughout the nation.”

The same report highlighted common actions and behaviors that contributed to fatal crashes. For example, in 206 of the 646 fatal crashes, Driving While Intoxicated (alcohol and/or drugs) was listed as the contributing factor. Other commonly cited factors included driver inattention (170 crashes) and pedestrian infractions (153 crashes).

While negligence causes a number of accidents, the truth is that sometimes, more than one party is partially at fault. If you have been injured in a car accident where you were partially at fault, is recovering compensation still possible?

Is it possible to pursue a car accident claim if I share partial fault?

Why Fault Matters in a Car Accident Claim

The extent to which fault impacts a person’s ability to recover compensation depends on where the accident occurred. Each state has its own laws relating to personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Generally speaking, fault laws for car accidents fall under one of three categories, depending on the state:

  1. No fault
  2. Comparative negligence, or;
  3. Contributory negligence

No-fault states

In no-fault states, a person can recover compensation after an accident through his or her Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, no matter who was at fault. If the accident occurs in a no-fault state such as New York or Massachusetts, you have the ability to pursue a car accident claim even if you were partially or mostly at fault for the collision.

Comparative negligence states

The majority of states follow a system called comparative negligence. Under the principle of comparative negligence, the amount of compensation that can be awarded depends on a person’s level of fault.

Some states, such as Florida and California, follow a “pure” comparative negligence system, meaning that even if a person is 99 percent at fault for an accident, he can recover 1 percent of the damages.

Many other states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, follow a “modified” comparative negligence system. In those states, the amount of compensation also depends on the person’s level of fault as long as his or her fault is under a certain level – often 50 or 51 percent, depending on the state.

Contributory negligence states

Contributory negligence is the rarest type of fault system. In states that follow contributory negligence laws, such as Alabama and Virginia, a person cannot recover any damages at all if he or she was even 1 percent at fault for the accident.

Options for Compensation After a Car Accident in New Jersey

New Jersey follows a slightly different system that is sometimes referred to as “choice no-fault.” The default insurance option is no-fault, meaning that compensation can be recovered up to the PIP policy limits.

Insurance claim

Each state differs in the amount and type of compensation that can be recovered through a car accident claim. In New Jersey, the amount of compensation depends on the type of coverage.

Under a “Basic” plan, only the costs related to medical treatment and medical equipment are covered through the policy. However, under the “Standard” plan, additional compensation for lost wages and income, replacement services, and funeral and burial costs may be available. Neither of these plans provides compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Personal injury lawsuit

In addition to the compensation that can be recovered through a car accident claim, you may have other options for more compensation. This may depend on your insurance coverage and the seriousness of your injuries.

With the “Basic” plan, a person can recover additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit only if there was a serious injury, such as loss of a body part, significant scarring, permanent injury, etc. If the injuries do not meet the threshold for a “serious injury” according to the law, then a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party is not possible with the Basic plan.

The “Standard” policy, by contrast, offers the option of having the unlimited right to sue. A person who has opted for the unlimited right to sue therefore has the right to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit – no matter the type of injury that was suffered.

How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident?

After a car accident claim is made, the insurance company will examine different types of evidence to determine fault. Of course, it is in the best interests of the insurance company to seek ways to avoid or reduce a payout.

If the person making the claim has legal representation, his or her lawyer will also examine the evidence to protect the interests of the client. In addition, the lawyer will also look at all potential factors that could have contributed to the accident or injuries. This might include parties who were present at the scene of the accident, poorly maintained roads, and vehicle design or manufacturing flaws.

Video evidence

Video recordings can be a piece of key evidence in a car accident claim. Footage from a dashcam or surveillance camera can help shed light on the moments leading up to the accident and how things took place.

Eyewitness testimony

Bystanders, passengers, pedestrians, or business patrons can offer eyewitness testimony about the accident. This can be especially helpful if video evidence is unavailable or insufficient and both parties disagree about what happened.

Accident reconstruction

Accident reconstruction experts may be able to give insight into factors that contributed to the crash.

By analyzing data and developing a model of the accident, these professionals can determine contributing factors such as:

  • The speed at which the vehicles were traveling
  • Driver action or inaction
  • Vehicle defects or malfunctions

Physical evidence

Other types of evidence that can be used to determine fault in a car accident include physical evidence such as phone records or field or lab inebriation test results. This can help determine whether distracted driving or driving while intoxicated were factors that contributed to the accident.

Contact Judd Shaw Injury Law Today

Dealing with the legal process after an accident can feel overwhelming and frustrating. You may be anxious to recover fair compensation but at a loss on what to do or where to get started. At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we are here to help.

Our clients receive personalized, passionate representation by lawyers who care and take our responsibility seriously.

Guided by our core values, the “Judd Shaw Way,” we promise to:

  • Be your knight in shining armor
  • Work the wow
  • Be chivalrous to each other and our community
  • Be compassionate about our commitment to improvement

A free case review with an experienced member of our legal team can give you the confidence you need to get started after your accident. With our No Fee Guarantee®, you won’t pay us any upfront costs or fees – you pay us nothing unless we get you money.

Contact our firm 24/7 at 866-909-6894 or fill out our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.