How Comparative Negligence Works in NYC

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In many accidents, more than one party contributes to the accident. Sometimes, even the primary accident victim bears some of the responsibility for the events that took place.

To account for this sharing of fault, New York uses a “pure comparative negligence” rule. You may also hear the term “contributory negligence.”  

Each participant in the accident is assigned a percentage of fault. Any party may sue, even if they were 99% at fault. However, the recovery amount is reduced by the percentage of fault.

Most of the time, the returns for pressing a case where you are 99% at fault would be so low as to make it ridiculous to do so, so the person who is least at fault usually sues, and the other party usually makes arrangements to pay their expenses another way. 

Comparative negligence should not be confused with “joint and several liability,” which covers cases where multiple negligent parties can be held accountable for an accident. For example, in a defective product case, the manufacturer and the retailer may be responsible for paying some of your expenses. 

Unfortunately for plaintiffs, insurance companies will do everything they can to increase the plaintiff’s percentage of fault so they may reduce the payment amount accordingly. If the case goes to trial, the jury sets the fault percentages. The lawyers will quibble amongst themselves during settlement negotiations if it doesn’t.

This is where good negotiation skills come in, as the ability to find evidence and make a strong case. A good lawyer can help the other side see that a jury will likely award their plaintiff a very small percentage of fault. The result of skilled negotiations could mean thousands more in your pocket. 

Once a lawsuit begins, the defendant does have the burden of proof to prove that you were at least partially responsible. A skilled personal injury lawyer can also turn that fact to your advantage.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and are afraid that at least some of the fault lies with you, don’t be afraid to contact a personal injury firm like RLF.

We can help you maximize your recovery even if you made a mistake during an accident, and we can often help you minimize the impact of that mistake in the eyes of the defendant’s lawyers, the jury, or the courts.

Contact us to get started today. 

See also:

Why Does It Take So Long to Settle a NYC Personal Injury Case?

4 Actions to Avoid During a NYC Personal Injury Lawsuit

What is New York’s Serious Injury Threshold for Personal Injury Cases 


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