What is New York’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law?

New York’s pure comparative negligence law allows you to recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the accident; in fact, even if you were more at fault than the other party. However, your damages will be reduced in proportion to your share of the fault.

The responsible party’s insurance company may unfairly and improperly try to blame you for the accident, to try to minimize their liability. Insurance companies often conduct far-ranging accident investigations in search of opportunities to blame victims. If they cannot find evidence against you, they may try to get you to admit fault. If you have been injured in an accident, our firm can help. Speak with our car accident lawyers in White Plains, the Bronx, or Queens at our convenient office locations and understand how this state law impacts your car accident.

Pure Comparative Negligence vs. Modified Comparative Negligence

New York is one of only a handful of states that follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule, which allows you to recover compensation even if you share part or even most of the blame for the accident. By contrast, most states follow a “modified comparative negligence” rule. Unlike in pure comparative negligence states like New York, if you were involved in an accident in a modified comparative negligence state, you could be completely denied compensation if your share of the fault is too high.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In a pure comparative negligence state, you are entitled to recover compensation from the other party or their insurance company—even if you are as much as 99 percent at fault for the accident. However, the other party will also be entitled to recover compensation from you or your insurance company if they were injured due to your negligence. In addition, your compensation will be significantly lower if you share a large percentage of the fault.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence states work similarly to pure comparative negligence states with one key difference: If your share of fault is too high, you cannot recover any compensation whatsoever. In some modified comparative negligence states, compensation is automatically barred if your share of fault is 50 percent or higher, while others set the threshold at 51 percent or higher. If your share of the fault is lower than 50 or 51 percent, your compensation will simply be reduced similarly to pure comparative fault states.

Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Negligence

A few states are contributory negligence states. Contributory negligence is the most stringent of the doctrines discussed on this page. In a contributory negligence state, you are prohibited from recovering compensation if you share any blame—even if you are only slightly at fault.

How Does Pure Comparative Negligence Impact Lawsuits in New York?

Being found partly at fault for an accident will not automatically bar you from recovering compensation in New York, a pure comparative negligence state, but it can make a dramatic difference in the amount you receive. Your share of the fault will be expressed as a percentage. This percentage will then be deducted from your damages, and you will receive a reduced amount of compensation.

This differs from the approach in modified comparative negligence states, which cut off your right to recover compensation if your share of fault reaches the 50/51 percent threshold. For example:

Scenario 1: You were injured in a car accident for which you were 40 percent at fault, and your damages are $100,000. Your compensation will be reduced by 40 percent, or $40,000. You will be able to recover $60,000, whether you are in a pure or modified comparative negligence state.
Scenario 2: You were injured in a car accident for which you were found 52 percent at fault, and your damages are $100,000. In a pure comparative negligence state (like New York), your damages would be reduced by 52 percent, and you would be eligible to receive $48,000. In a modified comparative negligence state, you would receive nothing.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Determine Fault?

Assigning as much fault as possible to victims is one of the most common strategies insurance companies use to minimize the compensation they must pay. The higher your percentage of fault, the lower their liability and responsibility to pay. Insurance companies often send investigative teams to accident sites to look for evidence they can use against you. If they fail, adjusters may contact you and try to get you to admit fault for the accident; in other words, many adjusters will use all means at their disposal to try to limit your claim.

You do not have to accept the insurance company’s biased finding of fault against you. When you have our skilled New York injury lawyers working for you, we will conduct a thorough investigation into your accident to determine exactly how it happened and what factors contributed to your injuries. We will identify all of the responsible parties and protect you from undeserved blame.

We will also communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. We know what to say and what not to say. By protecting you from unfair accusations that you were at fault for the accident, we will put you in a strong position to recover the maximum compensation available.

Types of Accidents We Handle that Are Affected by Comparative Fault Laws

We handle all types of personal injury cases that may be affected by New York’s comparative negligence law, including:

Have Questions About Comparative Negligence Laws in New York? Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Lever & Ecker.

If you were wrongly blamed for an accident in New York in which you were injured, or if you were partially at fault for an accident in which you were injured, do not let this stop you from contacting an attorney. Our skilled car accident lawyers may be able to clear you of blame so you can recover the full compensation you deserve. If you are partly to blame for the accident, you may still be able to recover substantial compensation under New York’s comparative negligence laws.

Contact us online or call (914) 288-9191 to schedule your free case evaluation. We take personal injury cases . . . very personally.®