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Chain Reaction Collision: Who’s Responsible?

Many residents and out-of-staters use New Jersey roads and highways for their commute, which unfortunately become congested with frequent auto accidents.  When traveling on highways and toll roads, a minor miscalculation can lead to serious damage because vehicles are operating at high speeds. One driver's mistake may combine with another's carelessness to create a chain reaction, injuring multiple drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Public and private property may also be damaged as a result.

There are many different ways that another driver might contribute to one of the collisions involved in the chain reaction:

  • Speeding
  • Failing to keep a safe distance from cars in front
  • Having faulty brakes, old tires, or other auto defects
  • Being distracted or impaired

Who is responsible for injuries and damages in a chain reaction car accident?

A driver who rear-ends another car may also be responsible for injuries and property damage suffered by the driver behind him who was unable to stop in time to avoid the subsequent collision —even if that driver was speeding.

However, he is not the only one accountable for the damage. Under New Jersey law, the Comparative Negligence Act allows blame to be assigned to multiple drivers as a percentage of fault. A plaintiff can recover as long as his percentage of fault is less than that of the defendant(s).   In other words, if a plaintiff was 20% at fault and the defendant was 80% at fault for an accident that cost the plaintiff $1,000, the plaintiff may recover $800 ($1,000 less his 20% liability). However, if the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff cannot recover anything (“modified comparative negligence”).

In addition, sometimes the fault extends beyond the drivers—there may be a defect in the design or manufacture of the vehicle, or it may have been negligently serviced or repaired.

Do not wait to pursue your auto accident claim—in New Jersey, you only have two years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit for your injuries. If you were involved in an auto collision, get in touch with the Law Offices of Richard S. Greenburg today.

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