What Are the Most Common Defenses Used in New Jersey Car Accident Claims?

If you get involved in a car accident in New Jersey and need to file a claim, you may find it difficult to obtain the financial compensation that you deserve for your medical bills and property repairs. Insurance companies often try to protect their profits by avoiding large payouts. Recognizing the most common defense strategies used in car accident claims can allow you to combat them during the claims process.

Comparative Negligence 

New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Act allows multiple parties to be allocated a portion of fault for a car accident. An insurance company will investigate a car accident claim and assign a percentage of liability, or legal responsibility, to the parties involved. If the claimant or injured accident victim is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident, this will impact the compensation he or she receives from an insurer.  

The comparative negligence defense could reduce a victim’s compensatory award by an amount equivalent to his or her degree of fault. For example, if an injured party (plaintiff) is awarded 10 percent of fault for an accident and a $100,000 settlement, the value of the claim would be reduced by a matching 10 percent ($10,000) to $90,000. In New Jersey, a victim must be less at fault than the other person to qualify for financial damages.

Third-Party Liability 

Liability disputes are common in New Jersey car accident cases. Insurance companies are for-profit organizations; their main goal is to protect their bottom lines. An insurance provider may try to shift the blame to a third party rather than accept liability. It may try to blame the claimant, an auto part manufacturer, the government, a company or employer, or another party to avoid liability or delay a claimant’s payout.

Assumption of Risk 

The assumption of risk defense argues that a plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risks associated with a certain activity and should therefore not be entitled to full compensation for any injuries that arise. This defense requires the accused party (defendant) to prove that the victim understood the risk of an accident. Examples include a driver who gets injured while street racing or drinking and driving.

Pre-Existing Injuries

A pre-existing injury is a common defense used to limit a plaintiff’s recovery based on allegations that the victim’s injury existed prior to the car accident. An insurance provider may try to avoid paying for a plaintiff’s medical costs and lost wages by stating that he or she was injured in an event unrelated to the crash. 

By law, a defendant must take a plaintiff as-is, including with any pre-existing conditions, even if they make an individual more susceptible to injury than the average person. In addition, if a victim can prove that a pre-existing injury or medical condition was exacerbated by the car accident, he or she can recover financial compensation for the difference.

Statute of Limitations 

An insurance company may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that a claimant missed the statute of limitations, or the legal time limit to file a car accident claim. The statute of limitations in New Jersey is generally two years from the date of the crash. A missed statute of limitations or another broken rule could bar a victim from making a financial recovery. You can prevent making these errors by hiring an attorney to handle legal procedures for you.

 Before you initiate a car accident claim, consult with a New Jersey personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. for advice. An attorney can prepare your case to combat any potential defense tactics. Contact a lawyer now.