What if I’m Partially At Fault for a Car Accident in New York?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jeffrey S. Antin with Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein, LLP.
Rules regarding who can make a financial recovery after a car accident vary from state to state. In some states, if a driver is decided to be even 1% at fault for the accident, they are not eligible to receive compensation. However, in states like New York that practice pure comparative fault, even a driver who was 99% at fault for an accident can seek compensation, albeit in a limited amount. However, fault can be tricky to determine. It is not uncommon for one party to believe they were primarily at fault for an accident, only to discover that the other driver was also committing a traffic violation at the time of the collision. This phenomenon is why car accident attorneys recommend refraining from admitting any kind of fault until a full and thorough investigation of the accident can be conducted.
Pure comparative fault allows anyone who was not 100% at fault for an accident to receive compensation.
While some states practice modified comparative fault, in which someone who is 50% or more at fault for an accident is not eligible to file a claim, in New York even someone who is 99% at fault for an accident may be eligible to receive compensation. However, it’s important to note that the value of that compensation may be diminished by the percentage of fault the driver is determined to have.
For example, a New York driver who is 60% at fault for an accident with damages totaling $10,000, may be eligible to receive $4,000. The way this percentage is established in a court case is by presenting evidence before a judge and jury, and letting the jury assign fault based on that evidence.
It may be possible to estimate the percentage of fault prior to going to court.
While the jury is typically responsible for assigning fault, an experienced car accident attorney with the help of accident reconstructionists might be able to offer someone an estimation of what kind of fault they are likely to be stuck with. This estimation can help strategically in deciding what avenues for recovery are open to the driver, as well as whether or not the case is worth pursuing.
Evidence that should be collected as soon as possible from the scene of the accident includes pictures, videos, witness testimonies, and more. With this and any other information that might be present, plus the damaged vehicle itself, an accident reconstruction expert can work to determine exactly how the accident occurred, as well as what actions both parties were taking at the time of the incident.
Refrain from talking about the case.
In any law case, it is advisable to refrain from discussing the incident with anyone other than your own lawyer. This is because it is easy to misconstrue what someone says in the interest of reducing liability. For example, even a blanket apology could be taken as an admission of fault, even though apologizing is a first instinct for some people regardless of how the event occurred. This is why car accident attorneys advise those who have been involved in a car accident to say as little as possible at the scene and to avoid discussing the incident after the fact. This includes refraining from discussing any details of the case on social media, with friends, and even with your treating physician.
To learn more about partial fault in New York car accidents, or for help investigating your claim, reach out to a car accident attorney in your area.