Negligence refers to the failure to exercise an expected degree of care in order to minimize the risk of injury to another. To be "negligent," then, is to be the cause of an injury to another for failing to act as a reasonable person should. According to New Jersey negligence law, contributory negligence must be less than the defendant's negligence in order to collect damages.
Some important aspects of New Jersey negligence law are listed in the following chart, while an in-depth article on the matter follows. See Negligence: Background to learn more.
|Code Section||2A:15-5.1, et seq.|
|Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery||Contributory negligence cannot be greater than the negligence of defendants. Damages diminished by the percentage sustained of negligence attributable to claimant.|
|Contribution Among Tortfeasors||Yes; 2A:15-5.3|
Legal Definition of Negligence
Negligence is defined as failing to act as a reasonable person should. This means that if your actions fall below the standard level of care that an ordinary person would have used, you are negligent. For example, let's say that you are in a car crash after going around a turn very fast. If a normal person would have gone around the turn slower than you did, you did not act as a reasonable person would have, and you are negligent.
How Negligence is Used in the Law
Normally, negligence is used to help determine whether or not someone is liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Basically, if your negligence caused someone else's harm, you may have to pay for whatever harm you caused. Returning to the car accident scenario, if the excess speed going around the turn caused the accident, then you may be responsible for the damage caused. However, if your speed did not cause the accident, and instead, the accident happened because the other driver was in your lane, you may not be forced to pay for their damages.
Contributory Negligence in New Jersey
New Jersey is a contributory negligence state, which means that the person asking for damages in a lawsuit has to be less responsible for the accident than the person who allegedly caused the accident. In the car accident scenario, if the other driver is asking you to pay for his damages, he has to be less responsible for the accident than you are. If a jury believes that him straying into your lane is a bigger cause of the accident than your speed, he may not be able to recover damages. However, if a jury finds that the accident would have been avoided if you were driving slower, you may have to pay damages.
Get Legal Help With Your New Jersey Negligence Claim
New Jersey has numerous public and personal tort laws. Finding a New Jersey attorney who knows the state contributory negligence limits can maximize your financial award. If you're dealing with a personal injury matter that merits compensation, you can find the best guidance by contacting a New Jersey injury attorney near you.
Contact a qualified attorney.