New York personal injury laws give you the right to recover when a person’s negligent actions result in your injuries. Negligence occurs when a person acts carelessly and that carelessness results in an injury to someone else. When there’s only one party at fault, the jury awards the victim the appropriate amount for their losses. If you might be partially at fault for the chain of events that result in your injuries, the answer may not be so clear.
In New York, when you’re partially to blame for your injuries, you may still be able to recover for a significant portion of your injuries. New York law uses what’s called contributory negligence. While you can still recover for your losses, you recover less if you’re partially to blame for what happened. The court reduces your recovery by the amount that you’re to blame.
How it works
For example, you’re in a car accident. The other driver drove their vehicle while they were intoxicated. You were speeding approximately 5 miles over the limit. The other driver drifted into your lane and struck your vehicle. You sustain $100,000 in damages.
Your case proceeds to trial. The jury hears all of the evidence. They decide that you’re 10 percent to blame for the crash. The drunk driver is 90 percent to blame for the crash. In that event, you can recover $90,000 for your losses. That represents 90 percent of your total damages. The court reduces your total damage award by the percent that you’re to blame for the crash.
Don’t assume you’re at fault
When you’re wondering if you can seek payment for a crash when you’re partially at fault, you shouldn’t make assumptions about your liability before you speak to an personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can talk with you about the case and assess fault. What might look like fault to you might not be fault under New York law. Allowing your attorney to evaluate your case can give you a realistic idea of your options for recovery under the law.
It’s also important not to make admissions before you speak to an attorney. What you say to the other side might be admissible in court as an admission of an opposing party. You might want to say things to comfort the other party or to seem nice, but those statements might not be an accurate reflection of your liability under state law. Working with an attorney to conduct a thorough investigation can help you see the big picture and make a determination about your case with all of the facts.
An attorney can help you prepare your case
When you work with an personal injury attorney, they can help you determine the best course of action. If you’re the only person injured, it’s likely worth your while to bring a case to recover as much as you can. If there are many injured people, you can work with your attorney to evaluate the case and determine how to best pursue your interests.
In cases where there’s a question about fault, your attorney has very important work to do preparing your case. They need to be able to show the jury the facts and how the other side acted negligently. They need to show the jury how your actions compare to the actions of the others involved.
This might involve working with experts to reconstruct the accident. You may need to prepare a demonstration or animation to play for the jury. Witness testimony might be critical in order to show the jury how the accident really occurred.
Finally, an attorney can explain how contributory negligence might work in your case. This knowledge might help you resolve the case to your satisfaction before you set foot in trial. Ultimately, with the right attorney, you can still pursue compensation for your losses even if you’re partially to blame.
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