As we have already covered in these pages, New York is a “comparative fault” jurisdiction. What does comparative negligence mean? If someone injured in a motor vehicle crash causes or contributes to the collision through “culpable conduct,” that person’s bodily injury recovery for pain and suffering will be reduced in proportion with their share of comparative fault. The jury or factfinder would compare the injured person’s culpable conduct with that of the injury causing party and assign different percentages of fault. The injured person’s damages would be reduced in proportion with their share of fault.
New York’s comparative fault rule is a sharp contrast from “contributory fault” jurisdictions. In a pure contributory fault jurisdiction, any culpable conduct by the injured person—even if that conduct had a negligible affect on the happening of the incident and resulting injuries—could eliminate the right to recovery. This is harsh rule, from which most states have departed.
New York’s comparative negligence rule may seem complicated in its abstract definition, but is easier to understand when applied to hypothetical fact patterns. Here are some examples:
These are some hypothetical examples of how New York’s comparative fault rule operates in courthouses across the state every day. Every fact pattern and case is unique so it is important not to overgeneralize. The actual apportionment of fault is factually sensitive and will depend on the precise facts of the case. Some insurance companies take the position that, because an injured person took actions which may have contributed to the injury they are entitled to no compensation. This is simply not the law.
The attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. have extensive experience helping injured people receive maximum compensation after a New York car crash. If you were injured in a crash, don’t let the insurance company tell you that you are not entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. Call our attorneys today. We would be happy to review the unique circumstances of your case to see if we can help.