After a car accident, who’s to blame isn’t always clear. However, that should not stop an injury victim from filing a lawsuit to recover damages stemming from their injuries. That is why New York operates under a pure comparative negligence system, which awards damages based on percentages of fault as determined by the court.
This system allows plaintiffs who played a minor role in causing their own harms to still file lawsuits and recover from those who were predominantly at fault. This includes where the plaintiff had a hand in causing the accident or exacerbated their own harms through negligent behavior such as not wearing a seat belt.
You should always have legal counsel by your side when attempting to recover compensation for car accident injuries in Westchester. At The Martello Law Firm, PLLC, our Westchester car accident attorneys offer free case assessments to potential clients on their first call. Get yours today by calling us at (914) 685-6950.
What is Comparative Negligence?
When car accidents happen in Westchester or across the State of New York, it may be clear immediately which party was at fault for causing it. However, this is not always the case. Comparative negligence concerns situations where more than one party, including perhaps the injured victim, was negligently responsible for contributing to either the accident or the resulting injuries. Each state has their own procedure for dealing with these situations, so it is important to identify which state’s rules you are governed by in your case.
What is the Comparative Negligence Rule in Westchester, NY?
There are several different forms of the comparative negligence rule that apply in various states. New York is one of 13 states that abides by the “pure” comparative negligence theory. Under pure comparative negligence, any injury victim can recover compensation from another party through a lawsuit with a Yonkers personal injury attorney, even if they are partially at fault themselves. However, the amount of compensation that they can recover will be reduced to reflect the amount of blame that they share. This amount is reflected by a percentage.
Other states have different rules that may further limit or even prevent a plaintiff from recovering if they were partially responsible for causing the accident or the resulting injuries. If you have questions about which laws apply to your potential suit, the Mount Vernon car accident attorneys at The Martello Law Firm, PLLC may be able to help answer them.
How is Percentage of Fault Determined in Westchester, NY?
Ultimately, the decision of how fault is apportioned for a car accident lawsuit is made by the court. In a jury trial, the judge will instruct the jury to consider each party’s role in causing the accident, if they had one. The damages claimed by the plaintiff will then be reduced by whatever percentage the jury places on the plaintiff.
For instance, if a jury determines that a plaintiff claiming $40,000 was 25% at fault for causing the accident that injured them, the plaintiff would only be entitled to recover the remaining 75% of the damages, or $30,000.
The above example assumes that the case only involved two parties. However, multi-car accidents are not uncommon in Westchester. In these cases, identifying who was at fault for what and how blame should be shared becomes exponentially more complicated. You will want the help of a Yonkers car accident attorney whenever you are in an accident, but especially when there are multiple negligent parties.
Example of Comparative Negligence Causing an Accident in Westchester, NY
Drivers are deemed negligent when they fail to exercise reasonable care behind the wheel. This might include any instance where a driver violates one or more of the various traffic rules and regulations in Westchester. However, an accident may involve more than one driver behaving negligently.
For instance, let’s say that an accident occurs in an intersection when one car drives through a red light and collides with a car that had the right of way. Normally, you would assume that the driver who blew the light would be at fault. However, if the driver with the right of way failed to adjust course because they were texting while driving, a court could find that they were partially responsible for contributing to the accident.
Example of Comparative Negligence for Causing an Injury in Westchester, NY
Comparative negligence isn’t only found when the victim contributed to causing the accident. Courts may also deem a plaintiff comparatively negligent if they contributed to their own injuries.
By far, the most common example of comparative negligence causing injuries in car accidents is the failure to wear a seat belt. If you were not wearing your seat belt at the time when another driver caused an accident, the other side could argue that your injuries would not have been as serious if you had been wearing your seat belt. This might limit your ability to recover compensation. The Westchester personal injury attorneys at The Martello Law Firm, PLLC recommend always wearing a seat belt while driving or riding in any vehicle.
Another potential reason why a plaintiff’s damages might get reduced is if they delayed seeking medical care after an accident. Some injuries may worsen over time if they are not discovered and treated appropriately. In these cases, a court could find that the plaintiff’s failure to get their injuries checked out was negligent, and that it contributed to the seriousness of their condition.
Once you leave the scene of the accident, you should go straight to a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility, even if you believe that your injuries are not that serious. This is the best possible decision for both your immediate health concerns and your long-term financial recovery.
Concerned About Comparative Negligence Impacting Your Recovery? Our Westchester Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
Get all of your comparative negligence questions answered by the White Plains personal injury lawyers at The Martello Law Firm, PLLC when you call our offices at (914) 685-6950.