In New York State, an accident victim may receive less than 100% of their damages, even if they “win” their case. That is because New York State law allows for a defense called “comparative negligence.”
What is Comparative Negligence?
New York State is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that if both the plaintiff and defendant contributed to the accident, the court must determine each party’s percentage of fault and award compensation accordingly. This can mean that even if a party is almost entirely at fault for an accident, he may still receive compensation.
How does Comparative Negligence work?
An example of comparative negligence is when a pedestrian steps out into traffic, without looking, from behind a van or another object that prevents the driver from seeing him. In this case, the pedestrian will likely be deemed partly responsible for the accident, perhaps 40% at fault, with 60% of the blame being assigned to the driver. In this case, the pedestrian will be awarded only 60% of his total damages.
Some other examples where your award may be reduced because of comparative negligence:
- Injured person was not wearing a seat belt.
- A motorcycle rider was not wearing a helmet.
- Plaintiff ignored warnings about a wet floor or other unsafe condition.
- User failed to follow safety instructions or used a product for something other than its intended use.
What does this mean for you?
Comparative negligence means that you not only need to prove that the other party was at fault, but also defend against claims that you were partly to blame. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have a good personal injury lawyer representing your interests. In cases where an insurance company knows that their client is at fault, their defense will be to place as much blame on you as they can in order to reduce your award.
Don’t take it for granted that the other party is at fault
Even in cases where you may believe the other party is entirely to blame, you may not end up with the outcome you expect if you go it alone. Insurance companies will attempt to confuse you or trick you into making statements that imply you were at fault. You should also remember that they are not obligated to inform you of your rights under the law and it’s up to you to seek the proper compensation for the proper reasons. An experienced personal injury attorney knows the law and all the insurance company tricks.
Protect your rights
Attorney Gregory W. Bagen has been serving the Putnam County community from his office in Brewster for 40 years. When you suffer a serious injury, your first concern should always be to get the proper medical attention. The next thing you should do is to speak to an experienced Attorney to be sure that you are justly compensated for your injuries and that your rights are protected.
Contact Greg to take advantage of a free confidential consultation. Once he knows what happened, he can give you the facts about the law that you need to make an informed decision about how to proceed. If you do have a case, he’ll fight to get you the compensation you need to move past this terrible tragedy.