Most of us know that you have the right to sue if you are involved in an accident and are injured due to the negligence of another person. But what if you were partially to blame for causing the accident? Are you still in entitled to a monetary recovery for your injuries? Under New York’s Comparative Negligence Law, the answer is “Yes.”
In the past, New York followed the doctrine of contributory negligence, which meant that if an injured plaintiff had any role in causing an accident, he/she would be barred from recovering any money from the defendant. For example, if a person was walking while looking at their cell phone and tripped and fell on a dangerous crack in the sidewalk, they would not have been able to recover any compensation from the property owner regardless of how badly they were injured. This is because the injured person would have been considered to have been partially to blame or “contributorily negligent” by being distracted as he/she was walking. This legal approach led to many properties owners avoiding any responsibility for maintaining their property in unsafe and dangerous conditions. This unjust approach was also applied to cases involving negligent drivers that caused car accidents and other types of accident cases.
That all changed when New York adopted the comparative fault system. Under this approach, an injured plaintiff who is partially to blame for an accident can still recover monetary damages from a negligent defendant, except that the monetary damages are reduced by a percentage that is proportional to his/her share of the negligence as assigned by the jury. So for example, if the same cell phone carrying plaintiff falls on the same cracked sidewalk and a jury determines that the injured plaintiff is 30% responsible for the accident, his/her monetary award will be reduced by 30% (e.g. if the jury determines that fair compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries is $100K, the award will be reduced by 30% or by $30,000.00 leaving the plaintiff with a $70,000.00 award).
If you have been injured in an accident, even if you think you are partially to blame, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. Contact Rosenberg & Rodriguez, PLLC as soon as possible. Our experienced attorneys will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a viable case.