Understanding Comparative Fault in New York

If you share responsibility for an accident, your compensation will be lower

New York personal injury law uses comparative fault calculations when determining responsibility and compensation for an accident. This means that when courts look to award monetary compensation to an accident victim, they will look to see if the accident victim did something that contributed to the accident. Compensation will be lower if the accident victim is found to be partially at fault in the accident. In legal terms, both parties acted negligently in some way.

Assessing fault can be more of an art than a science

The court will assess how much fault belongs to each party. For example, let’s say you trip on a step as you cross the threshold of a business. This could happen under several different scenarios, for example:

  • The step was clearly broken and should have been repaired.
  • The business had a big bright sign that said watch your step.
  • You were texting a friend and did not look up from your phone as you entered the business.

In each of these scenarios, it’s possible that in a settlement or trial, the court or arbitrator will determine that you were 0 percent at fault, 100 percent at fault, or any percentage in between.

In another example, let’s say you were in a car accident and both you and the other party had something to do with causing the accident. Under New York’s comparative fault law, you each could collect damages that equal the percentage of fault determined by the court. Two things will be calculated in the settlement or court decision:

  • How much the total damages are
  • How responsible is each party for the accident

So, in this scenario, if the jury or arbitrator find that you are 80 percent responsible for the accident, you may still get 20 percent of your damages paid by the other person’s insurance company.

How to prove negligence

Comparative fault is also referred to as comparative negligence. In most personal injury cases—slip and fall, car accident, malpractice, etc.—your claim must prove that the other party was negligent in some way according to the criteria defined by New York law. These laws can be complicated and confusing. Basically, to prove negligence (fault), you must prove that the person or business did not act correctly or failed to take action when they should have. Then you must prove that you were injured due to that action or inaction.

Because all this can be very difficult to actually document and prove, it’s important to contact a Bronx personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. You should never admit to any fault in the accident until you have spoken with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.

Call for a free consultation with a Bronx personal injury attorney

Bronx attorney Evan W. Kohn can advise you on how comparative fault could determine your compensation. He can help you get appropriate compensation for your physical, emotional and financial injuries. Contact The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn online or by calling 718-409-5500 to arrange a free consultation about your accident.

Attorney Evan Kohn
About the Author: Evan Kohn
Evan W. Kohn is an experienced personal injury attorney serving the New York City area. He handles cases ranging from auto accidents to personal injury, Slip and falls, truck accidents, and medical malpractice.