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Comparative Negligence: What You Need To Know

Most lawsuits are straightforward and usually involve you and the liable defendant. However, when your claim has more than one responsible party, the process is more complex, and the final verdict will depend on your state’s comparative negligence laws. In some situations, you may be held partially responsible and can only claim minimal benefits. You should always research your local regulations and consult your lawyer to determine how to organize your case and receive maximum compensation.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is when the court determines that you and the responsible parties are partially liable for the incident’s outcome. If the judge determines that you were also accountable for what happened, they may try to limit the amount of total coverage you will receive. In some states, you may not even receive anything at all.

What Are The Main Comparative Negligence Theories?

While every state has different laws surrounding comparative negligence, three main theories are used nationwide. Each differs based on the level of accountability each person has in the incident.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence is practiced in 23 states, and local courts can interpret it in two different ways depending on where you are. The 50% rule prohibits you from receiving any money for damages if the judge finds you 50% or more responsible for the incident. However, you’re eligible for compensation if your total responsibility is 49% or less. If a state uses the 51% rule, you’re ineligible for benefits if you’re 51% or more at fault for what happened.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Thirteen states, including New York, use the pure comparative negligence theory for their cases. If you’re filing a claim in one of these states, you’ll qualify for partial compensation even if you’re 99% responsible for the incident. Out of the three theories, pure comparative negligence favors plaintiffs the most.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence theory is only practiced by four states plus the District of Columbia. If you’re filing a lawsuit in one of these jurisdictions, you must be sure you were completely innocent of anything regarding the incident. If a plaintiff is found even 1% responsible, the case is dismissed, and they will not be allowed to claim any damages.

How Do Comparative Negligence Laws Work In New York?

Under Article 14-A of New York’s constitution, pure comparative negligence is used when determining who is responsible for the incident. The court system can subtract the final amount of compensation the defendant is liable for based on your share of responsibility.

For example, say you filed a personal injury lawsuit for damages during an accident. However, the court proves that you were partially negligent while driving. Because of your actions during the accident, the judge finds the defendants only 20% at fault for what happened. In other words, you can still partially win your case, but you won’t receive benefits for the additional 80%.

We’re Here To Help

In some cases, negligence can fall on both the plaintiff and the defendant. However, thanks to New York’s comparative negligence laws, you can still be awarded damages even when you’re partially responsible. Every case is different, and a personal injury lawyer can analyze your case and ensure you’re compensated fairly.

Our team of professional attorneys at Edelman, Krasin, & Jaye, PLLC is here to help you win the benefits you deserve. Please fill out our contact form or call us at 855-208-7783 if you have any questions or want to schedule a free trial consultation. We serve Nassau County, Suffolk County, and all five boroughs of New York City.