What is Comparative Negligence in New York?

Comparative negligence, also known as comparative fault or contributory negligence, means that both parties in a personal injury case are somewhat at fault.

Many people think that if they bear any responsibility for the accident, they cannot file a personal injury lawsuit and receive monetary damages. That is not true. New York is a comparative negligence state, and that means the injured party can still recover damages even if bearing some degree of liability.

A New York City personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London will review your claim and determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. We can help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, taking comparative negligence penalties into account.

Comparative Negligence

Many states do not recognize comparative negligence in personal injury cases, but it has been the law in New York since 1975. Think of comparative negligence as a gray area when it comes to fault. There are many personal injury claims where it is clear that just one party is at-fault, and there are many where it is not so clear.

As an example of the latter– a car crash occurs in which one driver fails to stop at a traffic light and T-bones a vehicle going through the intersection. The driver of that vehicle, however, was traveling well over the speed limit at the time of impact. The driver running the traffic light is at fault, but if the other car had not been speeding, the driver might have been better prepared to avoid the accident or not have been as seriously injured.

Seat Belts and Comparative Negligence

Seat belts are among the most common causes of comparative negligence claims in car accidents. In New York, buckling up is the law. Even if the defendant appears totally at-fault for crashing into the plaintiff, their lawyers will argue that the plaintiff’s injuries would have been far less severe had they been wearing a seat belt. This would be a strong argument, especially if the plaintiff were ejected from the vehicle.

The same holds for motorcycle accidents in which the rider was not wearing a helmet, or pedestrian accidents in which the person was jaywalking. If a car hits a cyclist at night, and if they were not wearing reflective clothing, they may bear some comparative negligence.

Premises Liability and Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is not limited to auto accidents. Premises liability claims, or slip and falls, often involve comparative negligence. Perhaps the plaintiff tripped, fell, and broke a limb due to a property owner’s failure to maintain a parking lot or walkway. The property owner’s attorney may argue that the plaintiff is at fault because they were wearing inappropriate footwear or talking on their cellphone and distracted when they fell.

A personal injury lawyer will investigate all claims thoroughly. This includes collecting any surveillance video, examining police reports and medical records, and interviewing any eyewitnesses.

Damages and Fault

The court determines a percentage of fault for the defendant and plaintiff. The plaintiff’s percentage of fault is then subtracted from any damages. For example, if the jury decides the plaintiff was 15 percent at fault and is awarded $100,000, they will only receive $85,000. The $15,000 difference is the percentage of fault.

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When a personal injury case involves comparative negligence, additional complications arise. To win the case, the lawyer must prove that the defendant was negligent. At the same time, the attorney must defend the client against claims that they were negligent.

If this has happened to you, you need the services of an experienced New York City personal injury attorney at Douglas and London. Schedule a complimentary consultation by submitting our online form or calling or texting us 24/7.

Our seasoned attorneys have recovered more than $18 billion in settlements and verdicts for clients. There is never a fee unless you receive compensation, as we work on a contingency basis. Hablamos Español.