Glossary: Comparative Negligence 

William Mattar Glossary
Posted: October 1, 2022

Comparative Negligence

If you are seriously injured in a New York State motor vehicle accident, you may be able to file a claim against the other driver to recover for your pain and suffering. However, “comparative negligence” can come into play when that other driver claims that your negligent conduct contributed to the accident – either in full or in part. 

Thus, New York State follows a comparative negligence rule when it comes to determining liability after a motor vehicle accident. Generally speaking, this means that if the injured person did something to contribute to the accident, damages will be reduced in proportion with their degree of fault. Therefore, unlike “contributory negligence” jurisdictions, New York State’s law holds that an injured motorist’s own negligent behavior does not necessarily prevent them from receiving compensation for pain and suffering. The statute, or law, reads as follows:  

“In any action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property, or wrongful death, the culpable conduct attributable to the [plaintiff] … shall not bar recovery, but the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the [plaintiff] bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.” 

That is, in New York, rather than being barred from recovery, a partially negligent plaintiff can still receive some compensation for their injury. However, the recovery can be reduced to reflect the proportion of the plaintiff’s own negligent conduct that contributed to the accident. The relative fault of the plaintiff is a factually sensitive issue that is normally determined by the trier of fact.  

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