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What is comparative negligence and why is it important?

Insurance companies in New Jersey often investigate car accidents to decide how much each individual involved has contributed to the cause of an accident. The concept of comparative negligence helps determine the degree of fault of each individual involved in the crash.

Comparative negligence is not applicable if the accident victim is seeking reimbursement from his or her own insurance company. However, if a claim petition is filed against another driver, his or her insurance company will want to determine the extent of fault of that driver. Most states, including New Jersey, have a law governing comparative negligence, but the degree of fault taken into consideration and the amount of compensation a person can collect for the damages can differ among states.

Since every accident occurs under different circumstances, New Jersey law does not define specific guidelines and procedures to determine the degree of fault. The Comparative Negligence Act gives insurers the right to review and investigate an accident and suggest a percentage of liability of each party involved which follows determination of the degree of fault.

A party in an automobile accident should be familiar with a few important terms, such as proximate cause of the collision or the exact reason the accident happened. The reason for an accident could be rash driving behavior, failure to heed traffic signs or lack of care when driving.

The degree of negligence is determined by the percentage of fault. Recovery of damages is only possible if the percentage of fault is 50 percent or less. For example, if a driver is determined to be 40 percent at-fault for an accident, the damage amount will be reduced by 40 percent. Car accidents are inevitable and unjustified compensation might be paid without being at-fault or resulting in serious injuries. Therefore, a legal representative may help a New Jersey resident involved in accident avoid these dire situations.

Source: State.nj.us, "Auto Comparative Negligence Settlement - Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed on May 15, 2015

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