New York is one of 13 states that have a pure comparative negligence law. For the purposes of a car accident, this means that if a negligent driver hit you, you can recover compensation for your injuries, even if you were partially responsible. The percentage of fault a party must bear is question of fact for the jury, or the judge in a bench trail. The amount you recover gets reduced in proportion to your share of the blame. Here's a simple example:
Car A is driving south on an expressway under the speed limit. The driver's cell phone rings and the driver glances at it to see who is calling. Meanwhile, Car B enters the expressway, its driver failing to yield to Car A. Car A hits Car B in the rear, totaling the car and leading to a concussion and neck injury for the driver. Car A's losses total $100,000 in property damage and personal injury.
At trial, the jury decides that Car B was mostly at fault for failing to yield, but that Car A must share some of the fault because if it were not for that glance at the cellphone, Car A could have corrected and avoided the accident.
The jury apportions 80 percent of the fault to Car B and 20 percent to Car A.
The driver of Car A can recover 80 percent of $100,000 or $80,000.
It's important to note that New York's "pure" comparative negligence law differs from states that have a "modified" law. States that have modified comparative negligence set a bar at 50 or 51 percent of fault. In those states, you must show that 50 or 51 percent of the fault belongs to the defendant or you are barred from recovering anything. New York does not have such a bar.
New York's pure law would allow Car B to countersue Car A and recover 20 percent of Car B's damages from Car A.
The law pertaining to car accidents can be more complicated than you think. To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney at Rubin & Licatesi, P.C., call us at 516-227-2662 or contact our Brooklyn office online.