Individual States 

NEW JERSEY

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of risk is a comparative defense that will reduce recovery. Lewis v. American Cynamid Co., 155 N.J. 544 (1998) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

In any personal injury or wrongful death action, benefits received from collateral sources are disclosed to the court and deducted form recovery, less the premium paid by plaintiff or a member of plaintiff's family directly during the policy period. Workers' compensation and proceeds from life insurance are exceptions to this statute. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-97 .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

In strict liability, a plaintiff's negligence is not a defense that will completely bar recovery if it consists of a mere failure to discover a defect in the product, or to guard against the possibility of its existence. Lewis v. American Cynamid Co., 155 N.J. 544 (1998) .

Contributory negligence is a defense in strict liability and negligence that will bar recovery if the plaintiff is 51 percent or greater at fault. If the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or less at fault, then comparative negligence is applied to reduce but not bar the recovery accordingly. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§2A: 15-5.1 to 15-5.2 .

Where a product injures employee in industrial setting, the comparative negligence defense is not allowed. Green v. Sterling Extruder Corp., 471 A.2d 15 (N.J. 1984) .

ECONOMIC LOSS

A cause of action sounding in strict products liability or negligence cannot be maintained to recover damages solely for the economic loss resulting from a defect in the product. Alloway v. General Marine Indust., L.P., 695 A.2d 264 (1997).

A tort remedy remains available for damages to "other property" and personal injuries. DiOrio v. Structural Stone & Brick Co., 845 A.2d 658 (N.J. Super. Ct. 2004) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

New Jersey law requires that defendants are jointly and severally liable. A party may recover the full amount of the damages from any person determined by the trier of fact to be 60 percent or more responsible for the total damages. Where the negligent party is less than 60 percent responsible for the total damages he is only liable for that percentage of the damages directly attributable to the party's negligence. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2a:15-5.3 .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages must be specifically pled in the complaint. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-5.11 .

A defendant shall not be liable for more than five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-5.14 .

To recover punitive damages, a plaintiff must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, actual malice or a wanton and willful disregard of persons who foreseeably might be harmed. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-5.12 .

Punitive damages are not allowed under the New Jersey wrongful death statute. Kern v. Kogan, 226 A.2d 186 (N.J. Super. Ct. 1967) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

A joint tortfeasor who is compelled to pay more than his percent share may seek contribution from other tortfeasors who are liable for plaintiff's injuries. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-5.3(e) .

A non-settling defendant does not have a viable cross-claim against a settling defendant, and all cross-claims against a settling defendant should be dismissed as a matter of law. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:53A-1.

SPECIAL DEFENSES

New Jersey has an "open and obvious / consumer expectation" affirmative defense that bars recovery. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:58C-3a(2) .

A manufacturer or seller shall not be liable in a product liability action if 1) at the time the product left the control of the manufacturer, there was not a practical and technically feasible alternative design; 2) the unsafe aspect was an inherent characteristic of the product and part of the ordinary knowledge common to the class the product was intended (except machinery or equipment); or 3) the cause was an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the product and adequate warning was given. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:58C-3 .

A manufacturer or seller is not liable for harm caused by failure to warn if there is an adequate warning or instruction. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:58C-4 .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Personal injury actions shall be brought within two years. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:14-2 .

Wrongful death actions must be brought within two years. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:31-3 .

Property actions must be brought within six years. N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:14-1 .

Breach of warranty actions must be brought within four years. N.J. Stat. Ann. §12A:2-725 .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

There is no statute of repose for product liability actions in New Jersey.

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.