What are your legal rights after a car accident that was partially your fault? In New Jersey, the short answer is, “It depends.” New Jersey law allows at-fault drivers to recover compensation up to a point; but, if you are too much at fault, then you are not entitled to any compensation for your accident-related losses.
Understanding New Jersey’s “Modified Comparative Fault” Law
This is all based on a law known as “modified comparative fault.” Here’s how it works: In New Jersey, as long as you are 50 percent or less at fault in a car accident, you can recover up to 50 percent of your losses. But, if you are 51 percent or more at fault, you cannot collect any compensation for your injuries. So, for example:
- If you are 10 percent at fault in a car accident in New Jersey, you can recover 90 percent of your losses.
- If you are 50 percent at fault in a car accident in New Jersey, you can recover 50 percent of your losses.
- If you are 51 percent at fault in a car accident in New Jersey, you are not entitled to any fault-based financial compensation.
Determining your percentage of fault requires a thorough investigation, and your New Jersey personal injury attorney will need to carefully analyze the circumstances of your accident to determine whether (and to what extent) you were partially at fault.
“Modified Comparative Fault” Does Not Apply to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Under Your Policy
There is an important caveat to all of this based on New Jersey’s “no-fault” auto insurance law. When you are involved in a car accident in New Jersey, unless you pay extra for the "unlimited right to sue,” your first (and maybe only) option is to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Since PIP provides coverage regardless of fault, New Jersey’s “modified comparative fault” law does not apply.
New Jersey’s “modified comparative fault” law only applies when you seek additional compensation outside of PIP. Most New Jersey residents have PIP limits of $15,000, which is not nearly enough to cover the total costs of serious accident-related injuries. As a result, many accident victims need to seek additional fault-based compensation—and this is when partial fault can come into play.
If you find all of this confusing—or if you don’t know whether you were partially at fault or elected to pay for the “unlimited right to sue”—you are not alone. These are challenging issues, and the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to consult with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney.
Talk to a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney for Free
Are you concerned that you may have been partially at fault in your car accident? If so, our attorneys can assess your legal rights and help you seek the maximum compensation available. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.