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What is Comparative Negligence?


The question often asked by potential clients during a free consultation is, “Do I have a case?” Personal injury cases are generally based upon the premise that the client has suffered a serious injury due to another’s negligence.  Once that has been established, compensation is addressed in trying to agree upon a just amount of money to compensate the victim for his or her injuries, pain and suffering, and economic losses.

Accident with a Truck and a VanAccidents Might Have Shared Responsibility

In cases where the negligent person is entirely at fault, things become relatively straightforward. If, for example, a drunk driver runs a red light and hits a bicyclist who had the right-of-way through the intersection, negligence will not be difficult to establish.  If, on the other hand, the bicyclist is riding against traffic and weaving between cars, then tries to cross an intersection against the light and gets hit, then the injuries can be shown to be a result of his own negligence.

In many cases, however, negligence is not so cut and dry, and accidents result from shared negligence of both parties.  It is in these situations that it becomes a matter of the percentage that each party is negligent.

Under Comparative Negligence, a Percentage of Blame is Placed on Each Person Involved

New York State has a Comparative Negligence Law.  The law attributes partial blame to each party who shares responsibility for an accident.  In some states, an injured party can only recover damages if they are not more responsible than the other party.  The percentage of blame attributed to the plaintiff would have to be 50% or less. 

In New York, an injured party can seek damages regardless of the percentage of the blame.   If a person is 75% negligent, they can still seek damages from the party that is only 25% responsible.   However, the comparative negligence law reduces the amount recovered or awarded by 75%.  For example, if a person trips and falls in the defendant’s commercial parking lot and a jury determines that the injured plaintiff was 75% at fault for not looking where he was going. Still, awards $100,000 in damages for the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff would only receive $25,000, representing 25% of the amount awarded.

Comparative Negligence Can Be A Factor in Any Personal Injury Case

In New York, comparative negligence can be a factor in just about any personal injury case.  If a driver in a car accident is not wearing a seat belt, insurance companies will argue that the severe injuries resulted from the driver’s comparative negligence in not being adequately secured in the vehicle.  Similarly, a motorcyclist might be deemed to have been comparatively negligent for not wearing a helmet.  Because issues of comparative negligence are often a factor in personal injury cases, retaining an experienced attorney in the personal injury field is incredibly important.

Call the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert for a Free Consultation

Marc Albert has over 25 years of personal injury experience and personally handles all cases that he accepts.  Marc has offices in Queens, Brooklyn, and Long Island.  Clients will work directly with Marc, and he will keep you informed about your case’s progress.  We prepare every case to go to court from the beginning if all parties cannot agree on a settlement. Call our office for a free consultation.   Even if you are partially to blame for the accident, you are still able to recover damages.  Contact us today at 855-252-3788 to discuss the particulars of your case.