Can I Sue for Negligence in a Car Accident in New York?
Car accidents may be a frequent occurrence, but they can also be very unpredictable. Some drivers walk away without a scratch, while others are left with debilitating injuries. Accidents can involve one, two, three, or more vehicles and can be caused by any number of factors. Many injured drivers were simply minding their own business on the road when another driver negligently struck their vehicle. In cases where one driver is harmed due to the negligent actions of another motorist, the first driver may file a personal injury lawsuit to claim compensation for their damages.
In New York, injured drivers may sue for negligence after car accidents. According to our Nassau County, NY personal injury lawyer, negligence does not occur from the purposeful actions of the other driver. Instead, negligence involves a lack of caution where caution was clearly needed. On the road, all drivers owe all other drivers a duty to drive as safely as possible. When that duty is violated, accidents happen. Damages could be minor, like a fender bender or other issues that can be easily repaired. Damages could also be severe, like totaled cars and severe physical injuries that require immediate medical attention.
If you were injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, call our legal team for help. Our New York car accident attorneys can help you file your claim and get the compensation you need to cover the costs of your recovery. Schedule a free legal consultation at The Carrion Law Firm with our Suffolk County, NY personal injury lawyer by calling (718) 841-0083 today.
Proving Negligence in a New York Car Accident Case
After a car accident in New York, you can sue the responsible driver for negligence. Most car accident cases will probably be based on negligence. This kind of lawsuit requires proving four key elements of negligence. If any one element is missing from your case, you will not be successful.
First, you must prove the defendant driver owed you a duty of care. In negligence cases, duty refers to the defendant’s legal obligation to either perform some action or refrain from some action, depending on the circumstances. While you might disagree with the defendant’s behavior, they cannot be held liable if they did not owe a duty of care. In-car accident cases, a defendant owes a plaintiff a duty to drive safely. This is the same duty owed by all drivers on the road.
Second, you need to show that the duty of care owed by the defendant was breached or violated. It could be possible that an accident occurs even though the defendant reasonably fulfilled their duty of care. Sometimes accidents are just unavoidable. You must show that your accident could have been avoided, and the defendant’s breach of duty led to the collision. Here is where an experienced Brooklyn car accident attorney can help your case.
Third is the element of causation. This element is like the link between the defendant’s breach of their legal duty and the accident. It is not enough to prove that an accident happened. The accident must be connected to the defendant’s breach of duty. For example, if your defendant ran a red light before the accident happened, you must prove that the defendant running that red light was the actual cause of the accident. If another independent event or source caused the accident, you could not prove negligence.
Fourth and finally, you need to show your damages. Damages include losses you suffered from the accident, including financial losses, physical injuries, and mental distress. Your damages must be real, not merely possible. You cannot sue for damages that could have happened had things been worse.
If you were hurt in a collision or crash, call our Long Island car accident lawyers for help today.
What If I Am Partly Responsible for the Accident?
Who bears the blame for a car crash is sometimes hard to determine. You may argue that the defendant is the one who caused the accident, but the defendant might say the same thing about you. When you are confronted with your own responsibility, you must follow the rule of comparative negligence.
Different states may employ different versions of the comparative negligence rule. New York is one of only a few states that uses a rule of pure comparative negligence. Under this rule, governed by Civil Practice Laws and Rules of the Consolidated Laws of New York § 1411, a plaintiff can still recover damages if they are partly responsible for the accident. However, the amount of money they can recover will be reduced in proportion to their responsibility. So, if a plaintiff is 25% responsible, their overall damages award will be reduced by 25%.
What is unique about New York’s pure comparative negligence rule is that there is no limit on your level of responsibility. Other states tend to bar any recovery if you are more than 50% responsible. In New York, you may recover no matter your level of responsibility, as long as it is not 100%. You could recover 1% of your damages if you were 99% responsible. Call our Buffalo car accident lawyers to discuss your possible damages.
Car Accident Cases Involving Multiple Defendants in New York
It is fairly common for more than two vehicles to be involved in a car accident. In these cases, there may be more than one defendant. If you end up suing multiple defendants, the rule of joint and several liability will apply. Under this rule, a single defendant can be held responsible for the full amount of your damages. This means if one defendant cannot or will not pay up, the other defendant must pay the entire amount. If that defendant wants to make the other pay, they must file a separate lawsuit against the non-paying defendant. That lawsuit will have nothing to do with you and will not be your problem.
This rule can be helpful in cases where there is more than one defendant, but one of them cannot be found. For example, suppose your accident involves two other drivers as defendants, and one of those other drivers fled the scene of the accident. If that driver cannot be tracked down, you can still sue the remaining defendant for the full cost of your damages. This rule protects you if a defendant decides to flee the scene or skip town. Contact our Bronx car accident attorneys for help.
Call Our New York Car Accident Attorneys for Help
If you were hurt in a car crash or collision, you could claim compensation from the responsible drivers. Call our Queens car accident lawyers for assistance. Set up a free, private legal consultation with our team at The Carrion Law Firm by calling (718) 841-0083.