When more than one party shares responsibility for causing someone’s injury on Long Island, New York’s contributory negligence laws determine who can recover damages – and how much compensation they could get through a legal action.
Each state handles contributory negligence as it sees fit. The State of New York has adopted the “pure comparative fault” system. If you have suffered an injury after a car crash, a Long Island Railroad incident, a slip and fall, from a defective product, or via some incident caused by another party, this system will decide your ability to recover damages. Even if you are partly to blame, you are still entitled to compensation. We can help you understand what this law means for your case.
The Basics of Contributory Negligence on Long Island
Let’s say that a collision occurred on the Long Island Expressway. At the time of the crash, one driver had a bad tail light, while the other driver was speeding. Under New York’s pure comparative negligence system, both parties can still recover damages from a collision, even if they shared responsibility with the other party for causing the crash.
However, the damages for the driver with the bad tail light would be reduced to reflect their share of the blame for the crash. So, the fact that the driver failed to replace their taillight made them 10 percent at fault for the crash, meaning they would recover 90 percent of their damages. If this driver’s total damages were $100,000, they would receive $90,000 under Long Island’s pure comparative negligence system.
In this scenario, the driver with the bad tail light would also be 10 percent liable for damages the speeding driver suffered in the rear-end collision.
The Details of New York’s Contributory Negligence Law
The State of New York establishes its contributory negligence law in the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (NY CPLR § 1411). The rules set forth in this law apply to both a “claimant” or “decedent.” In other words, the state’s rules of pure comparative fault apply to both personal injury cases and wrongful death cases.
The law states that:
Partial Fault Does not Prevent Damage Recovery
A person who suffers injury is not barred from recovering damages if they are found partially at fault for the incident that caused their injury. The same holds true for surviving family members of an individual who dies as the result of an incident for which they were partially to blame.
Damages Reflect the Degree of Fault for the Incident
When such an injured or surviving party is awarded damages, they will receive an amount that has been reduced in direct proportion to their degree of responsibility for causing the incident.
Fault Translates to Liability for Other Parties’ Damages
The portion of fault these parties are assigned is also the amount by which they are liable for damages suffered by other parties injured in the incident.
How New York’s Pure Comparative Negligence Rules Affect You After a Crash
While New York’s approach to contributory negligence does enable you to recover damages even if you are partly to blame, keep in mind that sharing the blame for the incident that caused your injury could have a substantial impact on your compensation.
Insurance companies and their at-fault policyholders will work hard to put as much blame on you as possible. Our lawyers know how to protect you and your damages. We will investigate the incident that caused your injury and gather evidence to limit your share of assigned blame.
Other State Laws Regarding Fault and a Plaintiff’s Right to Seek Recovery
All states treat injury law differently. If you are outside of New York and Long Island, you may encounter other rules regarding fault and a plaintiff’s ability to recover damages. Consider the following:
Modified Comparative Fault
In a modified comparative fault system, an individual who shares blame for a collision could still recover damages, provided they were found less than 50 percent to blame for the crash (some states bar damages only for individuals whose contributory fault is found to be 51 percent or greater).
In our example scenario above, the driver who was speeding would not be eligible to recover any damages for injuries they sustained, as they were found 90 percent at fault for the collision.
Establishing Negligence Is Key to Seeking Fair Compensation in New York
At the root of any contributory negligence system lies the concept of negligence. Negligence is comprised of the following four elements under New York law:
- Duty of care: The party had a legal duty to take reasonable steps to keep others free from harm.
- Breach of duty: The party violated their duty of care by conducting themselves in a way other than a reasonable person would in the same situation.
- Causation: The party’s breach of duty caused another party to suffer injury.
- Damages: The injured party suffered losses that can be recovered via financial compensation.
How Our Attorneys Establish Negligence in an Injury Case
To prove the four elements in a negligence case, our law firm investigates the incident that caused the injury in question. Our lawyers gather evidence to support our case by:
- Visiting the scene of the incident
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining the police/incident report
- Reviewing photos and videos
- Gathering medical records
- Getting the injured party’s wage statements from their employer
- Working with incident reconstruction specialists
- Collaborating with experts in the fields of medicine, economics, occupational therapy, and psychology
The claims process can be complicated, as insurance companies will often look for ways to reduce a claimant’s settlement value. The strength of your case relies on solid evidence.
If the insurance company tries to unfairly accuse you of a greater degree of fault than you deserve, we can build compelling evidence to demonstrate your right to compensation. We will work to show exactly how you have suffered from the crash and who was to blame. We work to seek the best possible compensation for injury victims.
Our Lawyers will Help You Navigate Long Island’s Pure Comparative Fault System
The losses from a personal injury – from medical bills and medications to lost income – can quickly add up, and many types of damages can last a lifetime. If you suffered an injury due to another party’s negligence, you cannot afford to risk your compensation being cut because your share of the blame was misrepresented. Our lawyers can tell you more about contributory negligence on Long Island and fight for the best results for you.
We serve all of Long Island and the five New York City boroughs. Call Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. today for a free case review. We are able to assist clients in English and Spanish.