When Person A rear-ends Person B, most people would assume that Person A is legally at fault and, therefore, liable for Person B’s property damage and medical expenses.
However, reality is not always this simple. Whether (and how much) each person pays will depend on several factors, such as state law, the level of fault, the severity of the injury, and more. Let’s take a close look at some of these factors.
Not every state allows drivers to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident.
New York, for example, is a no-fault state, and all drivers in the state must carry Personal Injury Protection coverage. In other words, each party must go through their own insurers to obtain coverage for their medical bills. However, the at-fault driver will likely be responsible for the other driver’s vehicle property damage.
But what if you suffer a serious or catastrophic injury, and you need compensation for your pain and suffering? Fortunately, New York may allow you to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, you will have to prove that your injury meets a certain severity threshold. An experienced attorney will be able to help you determine whether a lawsuit may be in your best interests.
What Is Negligence?
In any personal injury claim, negligence is a key component of determining a party’s level of fault. In other words, Person A may be responsible for Person B’s medical expenses or property repairs if Person A exhibited certain negligent behaviors.
In a car accident, for example, negligence could refer to texting while driving, tailgating another driver, ignoring the speed limit, or committing other risky or illegal behaviors. In our rear-end collision scenario, where Person A hits Person B, the court may find that Person A was negligent if they were following Person B too closely or driving with distractions (e.g., texting).
But Person B may be at fault if they:
- Slammed on the brakes or suddenly went into reverse for no reason
- Abruptly slowed down to make a turn but did not complete the turn
- Got a flat tire and chose not to pull over
- Drove with broken or nonexistent brake lights/taillights
While states have general rules, the result of a case is highly dependent on the unique factors of the incident.
Pure Comparative Negligence
In addition to fault vs. no-fault, states also differ in the way they calculate negligence and liability. In New York, courts apply the pure comparative negligence rule to car accident cases.
Pure comparative negligence simply means that compensation is proportional to the percentage of fault. For example, if Person A was 100% responsible for $100,000 of damages, they will be liable for the full $100,000, and Person B will not need to pay anything. If they were 70% responsible, they are liable for $70,000 out of the $100,000. If they were only 10% responsible, they are liable for only $10,000.
Other states do not use the pure comparative negligence rule. Some, for example, apply modified comparative negligence. This means that Person B would only be able to recover damages if they were less than 50% at fault for the accident. Still other states use the pure contributory negligence rule, which dictates that Person B would not be able to recover any damages at all if they were even slightly at fault.
Ultimately, what you may be able to claim (or what you may be asked to pay) will depend on various factors. One final factor to never underestimate is the quality of your legal representation. With a skilled and experienced attorney, you can enjoy a much higher likelihood of securing a favorable resolution for your case.
Get Started on Your Case Today
In any personal injury case, time is of the essence, and the Law Office of Seni Popat urges you to let our attorney provide the representation you need. As soon as you bring your case to our firm, we can begin gathering evidence and developing a customized legal strategy. With years of experience handling a wide variety of cases, Attorney Popat has the knowledge and resources needed to maximize your likelihood of obtaining the compensation you deserve.Call (718) 340-3385 or contact us online to begin with a complimentary consultation.