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New Jersey Negligence Laws

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, which follows the modified comparative negligence approach, a claimant's contributory negligence must be less than the defendant's negligence in order to collect damages.

This article provides a brief overview of negligence laws in the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey Negligence Laws: At a Glance

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. of the New Jersey Revised Statutes

Modified Comparative Negligence

The claimant's contributory negligence cannot be greater than the negligence of the defendant. Damages diminished by the percentage sustained of negligence attributable to the claimant

Contributory Negligence -- Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery


Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Yes; § 2A:15-5.3

Uniform Act


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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 thus 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, so long as the harm is found to be reasonably related to your negligent conduct. Returning to the car accident scenario, if the excess speed going around the turn caused both the accident and the injuries sustained by the claimant, then you may be responsible for the damage caused. However, if your speed did not cause the accident and instead it happened because the other driver was in your lane, you either may not be forced to pay for their damages or the claimant's percentage of fault may reduce the amount of damages you'd be responsible for paying.

Modified Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

New Jersey is a modified comparative negligence state, which, under New Jersey law, 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 their damages they have to be less responsible for the accident than you are. If a jury believes that their straying into your lane is a bigger cause of the accident than your speed, they 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's modified comparative negligence approach 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.

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