If you have ever been in a car accident, you probably have some degree of familiarity with what happens afterward. Usually, if the accident involves bodily injury or property damage, the police come to the scene and write a report that the insurance company will reference during your claim. The authorities will examine said physical evidence at the location, talk to both drivers, and address any witnesses that have come forward.
Afterward, they will summarize their interpretation of what happened and who holds responsibility. Here is some information about how fault is determined in a car accident in New Jersey.
Who Decides Fault in a Car Accident?
Insurance company adjusters determine fault in an auto accident after reviewing the police report and other evidence. Also, they possibly might ask you and the other driver questions about the collision to try to piece together a reliable narrative of what happened. Once the insurance company has determined who caused the accident—or if both parties shared fault—they assign percentages of fault to each driver. Suppose you disagree with the insurance company’s assignment of responsibility. In that case, you may speak with a car accident attorney who can put together a claim on your behalf to challenge the decision.
From Photography to a Dashboard Camera, electronic evidence is a significant step in proving you were not at fault for the accident. Dashboard Camera footage is admissible in court and should be shown to the law enforcement officer assigned to the investigation of your accident. The majority of modern vehicles have “black boxes” that record vehicle and event data, which means data points like GPS location, speed, deceleration, seatbelt use, airbag deployment, and collision factors are recorded. A “black box” is an electronic data recorder it will provide how fast the other vehicle was moving in the minutes before the crash, when the driver applied the brakes and how quickly the car was driving.
Accident reconstruction experts are exceedingly expensive and rely on witness statements for the average fender bender most of the time. What an accident reconstructionist does is work in reverse. By taking the time to document and study evidence provided on the scene, a qualified accident reconstructionist will be able to conclude the cause of the accident and how it unfolded. Important to their analysis is whether there is evidence of:
- Running stop signs and red lights
- Errors in turning and lane changes
- Loss of driver control due to the failure of a car part or a vehicle defect
- Dangerous road conditions; and
- Visibility issues
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Insurance companies determine each driver’s degree of fault based on the Comparative Negligence Act, and New Jersey uses a modified comparative fault scheme. If a driver is more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, they cannot recover for any damages sustained. If that person is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, they can recover, but the total gross compensation is adjusted to account for their degree of responsibility. For example, if you are 15 percent at fault, your complete recovery is reduced by 15 percent.
Talk to an Experienced NJ Car Accident Attorney Today
If you have any questions or concerns stemming from a New Jersey traffic accident, the Law Offices of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC will help. Contact us today for a free consultation.