Can Multiple Parties Be Responsible for a Car Accident in New Jersey?

A car accident is traumatic and confusing under any circumstances, making it difficult for the average person to handle the legal process necessary to recover compensation. A car accident case becomes even more complicated when it involves three or more vehicles. While New Jersey is a no-fault state for car insurance law, this does not mean that a fault determination is unnecessary. Find out if and when you can hold one or more parties responsible for your car accident.

How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in New Jersey?

New Jersey is a no-fault state for auto insurance claims. This law requires all drivers to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for their own medical bills after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. However, because PIP benefits are limited and do not cover pain and suffering, many car accidents result in medical bills that far exceed the available insurance coverage. 

To obtain adequate compensation for a car accident in New Jersey, you may need to file a claim with the insurance company of the other driver or drivers involved. You can bring a third-party claim against the at-fault driver if your injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, or if you purchased unlimited right-to-sue car insurance. It is important to determine which driver or drivers are at fault, and to what degree, in order to recover full compensation.

Multi-vehicle crashes most often occur at intersections and on highways with multiple lanes. The more vehicles that are involved in a crash, the harder it is to determine which driver is at fault. The answer could be multiple drivers – or a driver and a third party, such as the manufacturer of the vehicle or the government agency in charge of road maintenance. Complex, multi-car accident cases often use the legal doctrine of comparative negligence to allocate fault to multiple parties.

What Is Comparative Negligence in New Jersey?

When a crash involves multiple vehicles, more than one driver may have contributed to the accident and could be held liable. The comparative negligence rule in New Jersey is a standard for allocating a percentage of fault to multiple parties. The degree to which each driver’s actions contributed to the damage is what determines his or her percentage of liability. In this way, multiple drivers or parties can all share financial responsibility for the same car accident.

If the courts determine that you are partially at fault for an accident, this will diminish your recovery award. You can recover some compensation for partial fault as long as you are not equally or more responsible for the crash than the other parties involved. Fault determination can make a significant difference in the amount of money that you recover from insurance companies. For example, if you have $100,000 in losses and are found to be 30 percent responsible for the accident, you will only recover $70,000. 

When insurance companies cannot agree on a settlement, the degree or percentage of fault for a car accident is usually determined by a judge who uses evidence presented by all involved parties. In a case involving comparative negligence, an attorney may be able to protect you from assuming a greater percentage of the liability than you deserve when a car accident involves multiple parties. This can optimize your financial recovery from the other parties as a crash victim.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. Can Help

If you’ve suffered injuries in a multi-vehicle car accident in New Jersey and believe that more than one party is to blame for your losses, an attorney can help you collect fair and full financial compensation. A car accident lawyer can protect you from being assigned an unfair level of liability for a multi-car crash. Since insurance companies often protect their own interests by refusing to pay claims from other drivers, you may need a lawyer to help you demand adequate compensation or file a personal injury lawsuit. For more information, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, request a free case consultation with our attorneys.