If you are involved in an auto collision, but were not wearing a seatbelt, for example, you could be held partially responsible for the overall damages incurred. However, that does not mean that you cannot collect for partial damages. New York is a comparative negligence state, meaning that even if you are found at fault to some degree, you may still recover damages from the other responsible party.
How is fault determined?
A judge or jury must first determine if the defendant was negligent. Then, the defendant has the duty to prove that the plaintiff also was at least partially responsible. Once that is done, the judge or jury has the final task of apportioning fault between the two parties on a percentage basis.
How much can I recover if I’m partially at fault?
In some states, a plaintiff who is partially at fault can only recover as long as he or she is not more negligent than the defendant (50% or less). In other states, the plaintiff can only recover at 49% fault or less. However, New York is one of 13 other states that follows the pure comparative negligence rule. This means that an injured plaintiff can recover from no matter the percent they at fault. If it is determined that the plaintiff is 90% at fault, they can still collect 10% worth of damages from the defendant.
Is comparative negligence different from contributory negligence?
Yes. Contributory negligence law states that any negligence, no matter how small, acted on the part of the plaintiff is sufficient to constitute a complete defense for the defendant against the claim. However, only few jurisdictions actively employ contributory negligence law. Almost all jurisdictions have transitioned to comparative negligence.
New York’s comparative negligence law makes it easier to recover damages, but it also makes personal injury case more complex. Contact our experienced car accident lawyers at the Cochran Firm New York for your free consultation today.