Contributory Negligence in New York Accident Injury Cases

This is a topic that has a lot in interest in regards to accident and personal injury law. When there is a car accident or construction accident, or other type of personal injury case in New York State, the big question that looms over the entire matter is “who is at fault?” But what if the judge or jury determine that both parties are to blame in the accident? Each state may handle that differently, but in New York, the doctrine is called “comparative negligence.”

In personal injury cases, negligence is defined as; when one person acts carelessly, which somehow (either directly or indirectly) causes some type of injury or harm to another person. Let’s say you are in a car or motor vehicle accident and it is determined that you are partially responsible for the cause of the accident. This is referred to as contributory negligence. To put this into an example, imagine one driver is speeding and the other driver fails to use their turn single. There is negligence assignable to both parties.

What to Consider in New York State with Contributory Negligence

The law governing negligence in New York is found in section 1411 of the state’s Civil Practice Laws and Rules (CPLR). It says in part: “In any action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property, or wrongful death, the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or to the decedent, including contributory negligence or assumption of risk, shall not bar recovery, but the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or decedent bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.”

As a plaintiff in New York, you are not prevented from recovering damages in personal injury cases, like in some other states. With that said, the amount you are able to recover may be lower depending on the degree of fault you had in the accident. In a personal injury case, it will be the job of the court to determine if the defendant was negligent as well as to decide if the plaintiff was also at fault, at to what degree.

After an accident, it is up to the defendant to prove that you were at least partially responsible. After that, the court has the final task of apportioning fault between the two parties using a percentage system. The percentage of the fault must add up to equal 100 percent. For example, if you and the defendant are in an accident and the defendant is determined to be 70 percent responsible for damages, then you are 30 percent responsible, assuming there are no other parties to the claim. The amount you would be able to recover, therefore, would be reduced by 30 percent.

The comparative negligence law makes it easier to recover damages, but it makes New York accident injury cases more complex. Having an experienced Syracuse accident injury attorney on your side is essential.