Can I Sue If I Was Partially at Fault for a Car Accident?

Under New York’s comparative negligence law, you may be able to file a lawsuit for your injuries even though you were partially at fault for a car accident. This holds even if you and the driver are equally at fault, or 50/50.

Since New York is a no-fault insurance state, only those suffering severe injuries can go outside the no-fault system. The New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas and London will protect your rights while helping you to receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled under the comparative negligence system.

No-fault Insurance

Under state law, every motorist must carry a minimum of $50,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP), $50,000 in total liability for bodily injury in an accident caused by the insured, and $10,000 in property damage liability for an accident caused by the insured.

Under this system, your insurance company pays for your medical expenses and lost wages to the extent of your coverage. No-fault insurance does not include pain and suffering. People who are seriously hurt may file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. However, those injuries must involve:

  • Fractures
  • Fetal loss
  • Loss of body parts
  • Loss of functionality of a bodily system
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Full disability exceeding 90 days

If the motorist carried only the minimum amount of insurance and the injured party’s expenses exceeds that amount, they may sue the motorist personally for the amount not covered.

Pure Comparative Negligence

New York’s rules on shared fault are based on pure comparative negligence. The amount of your fault reduces your damages. For example, you are entitled to $100,000 in damages– but the court finds you 25 percent at-fault. Your compensation will be reduced by 25 percent, to $75,000.

Determining Fault Percentage

Facts uncovered during the lawsuit will assess the fault percentage of each driver. Often, both drivers will claim they were not at fault. Information derived from police reports, eyewitness accounts, medical records, examination of the accident scene, photos and videos, and vehicle damage is used to determine who caused it, and who is liable. A personal injury attorney can help you gather this information to present a strong claim.

For example, you may have suffered the brunt of the injuries when you thought you had the right of way at an intersection, but the other driver believed they had the right of way. Perhaps an eyewitness puts you in the wrong. You can still pursue the lawsuit, but at best– expect a shared fault settlement.

Here’s another scenario: It is clear the other driver was predominately at fault, but you did not have your headlights on, and it was dusk. You may not think this contributed to the crash, but you would have to accept there is some percentage of fault, perhaps 10 to 20 percent.

If there is evidence that you were partly at fault, that is taken into consideration during negotiations. If this is not fruitful, the case goes to trial. At that point, it is a jury who will determine the percentage of fault for each driver. The jury also decides upon the amount of damages, or compensation, awarded. As noted, if it is decided that both drivers are equally at fault, that same $100,000 in damages is divided in two so that each party receives $50,000.

Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer

If you were seriously injured in a car accident but partially at fault for the collision, you need the services of the experienced New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London. Arrange a free consultation today by calling or texting 24/7 or submitting our online contact form.

We will evaluate your case and let you know how to proceed. Our dedicated attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients. There is never a fee unless you receive compensation.