Comparative Negligence: How Does It Affect a Claim After a Crash?

Western New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Comparative Negligence: How Does It Affect a Claim After a Crash?

When people think of who causes car crashes, they often think of one person making a mistake or doing something reckless. They think of a texting driver or someone driving way too fast. However, in some crashes, multiple parties do something that contributes to the collision.

If you are in this situation, understanding comparative negligence laws in New York can help you assess your options for legal claims and compensation.

What is comparative negligence?

Generally speaking, comparative negligence is a statute that says that being partially to blame for a crash causing injuries does not bar you from recovering compensation. It will, however, affect how much money you may collect if you pursue damages for your injuries.

For example, imagine you are leaving work. You’re excited to get home, so you drive slightly over the speed limit. As you cross into an intersection with a green light, you get hit by a drunk driver who runs a red light.

Under these circumstances, an investigation could reveal that your speeding was about 20 percent to blame, while the other driver’s behaviors account for the remaining 80 percent. 

If you were to pursue a lawsuit and the courts award $10,000 for damages, that number is reduced by 20 percent, which is equal to your proportion of liability. 

How do parties measure liability?

Because calculating liability has financial implications, ensuring calculations are accurate is crucial. Typically, insurance adjusters make this determination, but several elements will influence their calculations.

Determining liability can involve examining:

  • Crash scene evidence
  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Crash reconstruction findings
  • Types, severity and location of damages

You can work with an attorney to help you ensure these investigations and findings are fair and accurate.

Important takeaways

Understanding comparative negligence is crucial if you are considering filing a legal claim. It can give you peace of mind that you can still recover damages, even if you feel partly responsible for the crash.

Another important takeaway is details matter in a crash. Whether you are talking about the physics of a crash or the extent of damages you suffer, these details will affect the outcome of your case and the amount of money you could collect. 

Carrying some liability for a crash can be regrettable, but it doesn’t bar you from pursuing damages in New York.


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