What Is Comparative Negligence?
What if you’re partially at fault, even if only 1%, for an accident? There was a time when that would have prevented you from recovering anything at all for your injuries. Meaning, if the other driver was predominantly at fault and you were also comparatively at fault, your right to recover was barred. Fortunately, as society’s collective sense of justice and fairness evolved, this is no longer the case, particularly in New York. This means that even if you were going 2 miles per hour over the speed limit or you did not hit the brake hard enough when you saw a vehicle swerve into your lane, you may bear some responsibility for the accident, but not all of it and you are still entitled to recover damages to the extent of the other driver’s fault for causing the accident. Many accidents involve at least some level of fault on all of the involved parties. Maybe you hit your brakes a split second later than you could have, maybe you assumed that the car at the other stop sign was waiting for you to go first, or maybe you were going 56 miles per hour in a 55 zone. The law of comparative negligence in New York works in your favor here. If you are 1% at fault, 99% at fault, or anywhere in between, you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries, in proportion to your level of fault. Insurance carriers and defense attorneys are very good at placing blame, rightly or wrongly, on plaintiffs, so they can dispose of your claim for less than “full value”. Your attorney’s job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. It is impossible to remember the facts of your case perfectly and impossible to tell someone how it happened multiple times without missing some little detail. The defense will jump on those inconsistencies and try to paint you as dishonest or unable to remember. This is why it is so important to have experienced, dedicated attorneys on your side. In New York, you can recover based on the percentage of fault of the other driver notwithstanding your percentage of comparative fault.