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How Does Comparative Negligence Work in New York?

If you are an accident victim, you are likely wondering if you can seek financial damages from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, the answer is yes, but it helps to understand how negligence is assessed.

Each state has different laws regarding negligence, and these laws dictate how much compensation victims can recover for their accident-related expenses and losses. In New York, the state observes comparative negligence, the details of which are described below.


How Comparative Negligence Works in New York

Negligence is the legal term for fault or responsibility. In order for a party to be responsible for your accident, they would need to have acted in a reckless or dangerous manner and those actions will need to have demonstrably caused your accident and injuries.

Negligence can also mean that someone failed to do something to prevent you from being harmed. For example, if a bus owner knew that a part on the bus was close to failing and did nothing to fix the issue, this individual would be responsible for any accident caused by the part’s malfunction.

In many cases, more than one party is partially responsible. For example, if you were rear-ended by a drunk driver when trying to make a turn, you could be partially at fault if you failed to signal the turn.

Comparative negligence seeks to measure each involved party’s fault in percentages. In the example above, the driver who hit you would bear most of the responsibility, but a jury would still assign a percentage of the fault to you.


Comparative Negligence Can Reduce Your Compensation

You are not barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit or collecting compensation if you were partially at fault for your accident and injuries. However, the amount of money that you receive will be directly reduced by your percentage of fault.

For example, if a jury found that your injury claim was worth $50,000 and you were assigned 10 percent of the negligence, your award would be reduced by that same percentage, leaving you with $45,000.


Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Since the amount of money you receive will be reduced by your percentage of negligence, hiring an attorney becomes incredibly important. The other party is likely to have their own attorney whose job is to point blame in your direction. If they succeed in making you look responsible for the accident, the amount of fault assigned to you will increase, which also reduces the amount they have to pay you.

Your personal injury attorney will gather evidence to prove the other side’s negligence and build a strong case for why you had very little responsibility for what happened. This will maximize the financial award you will receive.


Be Careful with Insurance Companies and Opposing Attorneys

Do not speak with the insurance company or attorney representing the other party. Anything you say can be used against you later to try and prove your negligence.

Instead, our firm can handle all discussions and negotiations on your behalf. This allows you to focus on your recovery without having to worry about accidentally giving the other side an unfair advantage over you.


Work with a New York City Personal Injury Attorney

To learn more about comparative negligence in New York as it pertains to your case, call 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or complete the form below. At Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP, we will be happy to answer your questions and discuss your case in detail during a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

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