Imagine you get into a car accident while driving through New York City. Someone rear-ends you at a red light. Why? You were reading a text on your phone and didn’t notice that the light had turned from red to green. However, it turns out that the person who hit you was on their phone at the time of the accident, too.
Who’s at fault for the accident? Can you still recover compensation if you share some of the blame? Will you be responsible if the other person got hurt, too.
Under New York’s comparative fault rules, sharing fault for an accident won’t necessarily prevent you from getting money for your injuries. However, it will affect how much you’ll be able to get.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Negligence is the leading cause of avoidable accidents in New York. Negligence means that someone isn’t careful, and their careless actions directly or indirectly cause someone else to get hurt.
Accidents are complicated. It’s possible for more than one person to be negligent and contribute to a crash.
When more than one person causes an accident, more than one person can be financially responsible for damages and injuries. New York, like many others, is a comparative fault state. Comparative fault means that your negligence isn’t a bar to recovery, but it will affect how much money you can ultimately get.
How Will New York’s Comparative Negligence Rules Affect My Personal Injury Case?
Under New York’s comparative negligence rule, fault for an accident is apportioned to everyone who is responsible for causing it. The greater your role in causing the accident, the more fault you share. The degree to which you are apportioned fault is important. Why? It’ll directly affect your ability to recover compensation. It will also dictate how much you might owe others for their accident-related injuries.
Here’s an example. Let’s go back to your NYC car accident. An investigation into your crash reveals that you and the driver who hit you are both equally responsible for the accident. So, you share 50 percent of the blame.
As a result, you will only be able to recover up to 50 percent of your accident-related damages. If between medical bills and lost wages, you sustained $20,000 in damages, you’d only be able to get $10,000.
At the same time, you can be on the hook for 50 percent of the other driver’s damages. If they didn’t get hurt, but it costs $5,000 to repair their car, you can be liable for up to $2,500.
The Less Fault You Share, the More Money You Can Get
According to New York CPLR Section 1411, ” the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or decedent bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.”
In other words, your ability to recover compensation is directly linked to your role in causing an accident. The less fault you share, the more money you can potentially recover from other at-fault parties.
When you pursue compensation after an accident, be prepared to be blamed. Insurance companies and others involved in the accident will try to shift some or all of the blame to you to minimize their own responsibility. If these tactics are successful, it could hurt your ability to get the money you need and deserve.
What can you do? Personal injury cases are complicated. When there are arguments over who shares blame, and how much, these cases can get even more challenging. The best thing to do is to turn to an experienced New York City personal injury lawyer for help.
Your attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident and find a strategy to minimize your role in the accident. This can help to maximize your compensation. Why? Because the less fault allocated to you, the more money you can potentially recover.
Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C.
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