Can I Get Compensation for my Injuries if the Auto Accident Might Have Been Partly my Fault?

May 24, 2024

Understanding Fault and Compensation In A Car Accident Lawsuit

Your right to pursue compensation for injuries after an auto accident largely depends on the state in which you reside. Different states have varying laws regarding fault and compensation. In some states, even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you might still be eligible for compensation, while in others, your ability to recover damages could be severely limited or even entirely barred.

Contributory Negligence in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the attorneys at Wapner Newman serve clients with specific guidelines related to contributory negligence. These two states follow what is known as the “51 percent rule” of contributory negligence. Under this rule, your ability to recover compensation hinges on two main factors:

The Degree of Fault:

  • If you are found to be 51 percent or more at fault for causing the auto accident, you are not eligible to pursue compensation from the other party involved. This rule aims to prevent those who are primarily responsible for an accident from shifting the financial burden onto others.
  • If you are 50 percent or less at fault, you can pursue compensation; however, the amount you are awarded will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you are found to be 30 percent at fault and the total damages amount to $100,000, you would be eligible to receive $70,000.

Insurance Policy Stipulations:

The specifics of your car insurance policy also play a crucial role in determining your compensation. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, drivers have the option of selecting no-fault insurance, also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

No-Fault Insurance and PIP

No-fault insurance is designed to simplify the compensation process following an accident by allowing drivers to file a claim with their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. This type of insurance typically covers medical expenses and lost wages up to a certain limit.

Advantages of PIP:

  • It provides quick payment for medical bills and lost wages without the need to establish fault.
  • It reduces the number of lawsuits, as minor claims are handled directly by the insurance companies.

Limitations of PIP:

  • It may prevent you from pursuing additional compensation for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages from the other driver, depending on the severity of your injuries and the terms of your policy.
  • In serious cases, where medical expenses and other losses exceed the PIP coverage limits, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Legal Assistance and Consultation

Navigating the complexities of auto accident claims and contributory negligence can be challenging without professional legal assistance. The auto accident attorneys at Wapner Newman are well-versed in the laws of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and can help determine the best course of action based on your circumstances.

Case Evaluation:

  • They will evaluate the specifics of your accident, including the degree of fault and the details of your insurance policy.
  • They can advise you on the viability of pursuing compensation from the other party and help you understand the potential outcomes based on your level of fault.

Maximizing Compensation:

  • The attorneys will explore all possible avenues for compensation, including any third-party claims that might be applicable.
  • They can assist with negotiating with insurance companies to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible under your policy.


Determining your right to compensation after an auto accident when you might be partly at fault involves understanding state-specific laws and the details of your insurance policy. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the 51 percent rule of contributory negligence plays a significant role in these cases. By consulting with knowledgeable attorneys, such as those at Wapner Newman, you can navigate these complexities and work towards obtaining the compensation you need for your injuries and losses. Don’t hesitate to seek professional legal assistance to ensure your rights are protected and your claims are effectively managed.