How Does Contributory Negligence Work in NY?

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    Accidents are often complicated, leaving room for a defendant to argue contributory negligence. If victims do not know how contributory negligence works in New York, they could miss out on crucial compensation.

    If contributory negligence is established, it might reduce the damages awarded to a victim in New York. This law impacts victims who might have acted negligently or irresponsibly during an incident, possibly worsening or contributing to their injuries. Contributory negligence can apply to cases involving injury, property damage, or death. Fortunately, there are ways to undermine arguments of contributory negligence. For example, properly documenting your accident and injuries can will result in evidence that can strengthen your claim. Additionally, meeting the burden of proof in your case and establishing that the defendant alone is responsible for your damages can help you avoid the hindrance that is contributory negligence in New York.

    You can call The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083 to get a free assessment of your case from our New York personal injury lawyers.

    Understanding How Contributory Negligence Works in New York

    Contributory negligence might become a factor in cases involving personal injury, property damage, or death. New York has a clear statute regarding contributory negligence, which victims should be aware of when seeking compensatory damages.

    According to C.V.P. Law § 1411, a victim’s damages can be reduced when a defendant establishes contributory negligence. This impacts victims who might have contributed to their injuries because of their own negligence. For example, suppose you were riding a motorcycle without a helmet and sustained a head injury in an accident. Because New York requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets, a defendant might argue that you contributed to the cause of your head injuries by failing to do so.

    Or, suppose you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your accident. Since wearing seat belts is mandatory for all drivers and passengers, you might be subjected to New York’s contributory negligence statute if your failure to wear a seat belt contributed to your injuries.

    When contributory negligence is established, compensation is reduced. Fortunately for victims, New York is not a pure contributory negligence state, meaning victims will not be barred from recovery if they contribute to their injuries. New York more closely aligns with the definition of comparative fault, as victims’ damages will only be reduced proportionally to their percentage of fault. For example, if a judge or jury determines you were 25% at fault for your injuries, the damages awarded to you will be reduced by 25%. This is unacceptable for many victims, especially those with serious injuries.

    Contributory negligence might come into play in any personal injury claim, including bike, pedestrian, and slip and fall accident lawsuits, among many others.

    How to Prevent Contributory Negligence from Impacting Your Case in New York

    Upon learning of New York’s contributory negligence laws, victims might be concerned that they will be unable to recover full compensation for their injuries. While that is understandable, there are ways to undermine a defendant’s argument of contributory negligence and prove that a defendant alone is responsible for your injuries.

    Speak to the Police

    Immediately after an accident that results in injury, especially a motor vehicle accident, call the police. New York law enforcement officers can document your injuries and the incident that caused your injuries. When speaking to police, be careful with what you say. Officers will likely take your statement and the negligent party’s statement. During any conversations with law enforcement, do not accept fault for your accident, as doing so could negatively impact your compensation claim. If you are unable to speak to police immediately after an accident because of your injuries, our Brooklyn personal injury lawyers can facilitate a conversation with law enforcement after the fact. Explain to officers what happened and how a driver acted negligently. If the incident that caused you injury does not call for police involvement, report your accident to the negligent party in writing.

    Document Your Injuries

    Sometimes, a negligent act by a victim is unrelated to their injuries. If we consider the example above regarding a motorcycle accident, failure to wear a helmet would not cause a victim to sustain a broken arm or leg, as helmets only protect the head. Because of this, it is important that you document your injuries so that they are clearly diagnosed. Then, if a defendant attempts to argue that you acted negligently, you can prove that your injuries are unrelated to any potentially negligent act on your behalf. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention following an accident of any kind. If you do not have ample medical documentation of your injuries, it might be easier for a defendant to argue contributory negligence in your case.

    Prove the Defendant’s Fault

    In cases involving contributory negligence, victims should proceed how they normally would when proving fault. After all, it is the defendant’s responsibility to establish contributory negligence in a claim. To prove contributory negligence, the defendant must establish that the victim had a duty to avoid harm, was negligent, and partially caused their damages because of their negligence.

    Our lawyers can undermine such arguments by establishing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, breached that duty of care, the breach in duty of care caused the victim’s injuries, and the victim incurred real damages as a result. Proving the defendant’s fault entirely can weaken any attempts on the defendant’s behalf to claim that the victim contributed to their injuries. To do this, our attorneys will investigate your case to uncover evidence, such as eyewitness statements, surveillance footage, and photographs, among other evidence. Eyewitness statements can be especially helpful in cases involving contributory negligence, as eyewitnesses can provide additional context and negate assertions that a victim acted negligently.

    Call Our New York Lawyers About Your Personal Injury Case Today

    Call The Carrion Law Firm’s Long Island personal injury lawyers at (718) 841-0083 to discuss your case for free.