As with many things in life, auto accidents aren’t always “black and white,” so to speak. Often, both parties involved in a crash will contribute to some degree. That said, if another driver is mostly at fault for an accident, can the other driver still sue for compensation? Please continue reading and reach out to the seasoned Rockland County car accident lawyers here at Mitchell J. Schroeder, P.C. to learn more about comparative negligence and how it may impact your ability to recover compensation in a personal injury claim.

How does comparative negligence work in New York?

Comparative negligence applies when both parties involved in an accident share some degree of fault. In New York, the law follows a pure comparative negligence rule, which means that you can recover damages from the other party regardless of how much you were at fault, as long as you were not 100% responsible for the accident. However, the amount of damages you can recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

For example, suppose you were involved in a car crash with another driver who ran a red light. However, you were also speeding at the time of the collision. The jury finds that the other driver was 80% at fault and you were 20% at fault. If your total damages were $100,000, you would be able to recover $80,000 from the other driver ($100,000 minus 20%).

The pure comparative negligence rule in New York is different from other states that follow a modified comparative negligence rule or a contributory negligence rule. Under a modified comparative negligence rule, you can only recover damages if your fault is less than a certain percentage, usually 50% or 51%. Under a contributory negligence rule, which is followed by only a few states, you cannot recover any damages if you were even slightly at fault for the accident.

The advantage of the pure comparative negligence rule in New York is that it allows injured victims to recover some compensation even if they were partly to blame for the accident. However, the disadvantage is that it also makes personal injury cases more complex and contentious, as both parties will try to minimize their own fault and maximize the other party’s fault.

The Importance of Hiring a Competent Personal Injury Lawyer

With New York being a comparative negligence state, it’s imperative that you hire a competent personal injury lawyer who can effectively gather and present evidence on your behalf to best show that the accident was more the fault of the other driver. Some useful types of evidence when it comes to satisfying the burden of proof can include:

  • Pictures of the accident and its aftermath
  • Videos of the accident occurring
  • Medical documentation pertaining to your injuries
  • Witness testimony

Importantly, in most cases, you will only have three years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim, so you must retain the services of a personal injury attorney sooner, rather than later. Further, the longer you wait, the harder it may become to establish liability. Mitchell J. Schroeder, P.C. stands ready to fight for you. Contact our firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.