After a car accident, “who is at fault,” is often not nearly as straightforward as it might seem. Further, when an injured driver’s fault contributed to the crash, New York’s comparative negligence law reduces the amount that they can recover based on their degree of responsibility.
Comparative negligence can factor in both insurance settlement discussions and in-court legal arguments. A New York City car accident lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green will take comparative negligence into account when offering advice and devising a legal strategy for your case.
Comparative negligence in New York
Comparative negligence has been the law in New York since 1975. It is one of the few states that have adopted what is called “pure comparative negligence.” Under this variant, an injured party is legally permitted to recover damages no matter how much of the fault they bear. For example, a plaintiff bears 99% of the responsibility for the accident. However, they are still permitted to recover the 1% of their damages that the defendant caused. In this scenario, pursuing a case might not be practical, but it is legally permitted.
By contrast, in modified comparative fault states, an at-fault plaintiff may recover damages, but only if they are not at least 50% or 51% (depending on the state) to blame. In contributory negligence states, a plaintiff cannot seek damages if their negligence contributed at all to the accident.
How comparative fault is determined
If you file a lawsuit and it goes to trial, the “finder of fact” apportions fault between the two parties. That means the jury will decide the total amount of your damages. They will also decide the percentage of fault each party played in the accident which reduces your award by the same percentage as your fault.
Most cases settle without going to trial, so there is no official finder of fact. Instead, you will likely negotiate your case with an insurance adjuster. Adjusters and defense lawyers might try to convince you that you are not entitled to compensation if you were at fault. They may also exaggerate the role that your negligence played in the accident. When you have an experienced New York lawyer on your side, they will handle these conversations for you.
Examples of comparative negligence:
- A vehicle turns into your lane, but you do not notice right away because you looked at your phone. The other vehicle strikes your car, and your damages are $100,000. If a jury finds that you bear 35% of the fault, you may recover $65,000 under the comparative negligence rule.
- You are rear-ended by a car following too closely. However, your brake lights were not working, and you slowed unexpectedly. Your damages total $70,000. The insurance adjuster for the other driver claims that you cannot recover compensation because your negligence caused the accident. Your attorney validates your claim and presents strong evidence and argument to suggest you were only 50% at fault. You recover a settlement of $35,000.
Fighting for fair compensation despite comparative negligence
If you suspect you were partly to blame for the crash that caused your injuries, do not give up hope for a fair resolution. Instead, discuss your case with a New York City personal injury attorney.
Strong advocacy can go a long way in the fight for full and fair compensation. Insurance adjusters and opposing lawyers will twist your words and use any sign of your own negligence to absolve the defendant. However, your lawyer protects you from this. They will also be on the lookout for these tactics and be ready to combat them.
Contact us today for a free consultation
If you or a loved one were injured in a New York City car accident, speak with a lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green. Our team believes every client deserves aggressive and skilled representation. Call today to schedule a free consultation.