When both the plaintiff and defendant are partially at fault in causing an accident, New York courts use the comparative negligence standard to determine the compensatory damages each party can receive. If you were involved in an accident and had a part in causing it, you might be able to recover damages for your injuries. Do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at TonaLaw today for a free consultation.
While there are some types of accidents that are caused entirely due to the actions of a sole person, the majority take place because more than one of the parties involved in an accident made certain contributing mistakes or errors. New York has rules in place which govern the compensation a plaintiff can recover if they are partially at fault for the accident which injured them.
Personal Injury cases in New York are evaluated using a strictly comparative negligence standard. This means that when looking at an accident, the court attempts to determine the percentage of fault attributable to each party involved. The amount of compensation that each person can recover is then reduced proportionally by the amount of fault they had in causing or failing to prevent an accident.
Within the evolution of negligence case law, the emergence of comparative negligence has been one of the most beneficial changes for plaintiffs who seek to recover compensation for their injuries. Before comparative negligence, the primary legal theory utilized by most courts was called contributory negligence. Under contributory negligence, the court or jury would determine whether the plaintiff had any part to play in either causing or failing to prevent the accident at issue. If the plaintiff was attributed any portion of the fault in the accident, they would be unable to recover any compensation. This was a strict rule which was created in order to protect defendants. This led to harsh results such as when plaintiffs were found to be only nominally responsible for the accident.
There are many situations that could cause this to come into play. For example, the defendant might have made a dangerous left turn against oncoming traffic and you hit their car. That type of negligent turn could certainly cause them to be responsible for any of your injuries from the event. Generally, however, all individuals have a responsibility to prevent an accident if possible.
The following are some of the most common ways that a plaintiff might be found to have contributed to a vehicle accident: (a) distracted driving, such as by using a cell phone; and (b) driving above the speed limit or otherwise violating the traffic law. If the defendant is able to establish that you engaged in either of these practices, it is likely that you will be found liable for a portion of the accident. This is because if you had been more careful, you might have been able to avoid the collision. Similarly, comparative negligence can be found for failure to wear a seatbelt. While a seatbelt would not have prevented an accident from occurring, it is possible that injuries would be less severe had one been worn at the time of the accident. This concept comes into play beyond motor vehicle collisions. For example, a pedestrian who is hit by a car might be comparatively negligent if they were jaywalking.
It is important to note that each party possesses the burden of proof with regard to the claim that the opposing party was negligent. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent in causing the accident, but then the defendant is responsible for establishing that the plaintiff was also comparatively negligent in failing to prevent the accident.
If you are found to be comparatively negligent in causing an accident, the damages you recover are reduced by the percentage of fault you were. For example, if you had injuries worth $100, but you are 30% responsible for the accident, then you can only recover $70 from the defendant.
Everything involving comparative negligence is very fact-specific. Everything described here has many exceptions and details that the skilled litigators at TonaLaw can provide. The fact pattern of your accident is extremely important in determining whether you can recover from any of your injuries. Call TonaLaw for a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation at 833-866-2529 (833-TONA-LAW).