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What is Comparative Negligence in New York?

Whenever a party is accused of causing an accident or injury through negligent or wrongful behavior, a common defense raised by defendants and their insurance companies is that the injured party’s own negligence contributed to the accident or injury. The reason defendants make this argument is that New York operates under a system of comparative negligence. Under a comparative negligence system, an injured party’s financial compensation is reduced in proportion to the percentage of his or her own negligence. In this article, we discuss comparative negligence in New York.  

Contributory Negligence 

In the past, many states followed the doctrine of contributory negligence. Under a contributory negligence system, a plaintiff that contributes in any way to an accident that causes his or her injury is barred from recovery. Today, only a handful of states follow this rule. Most states operate under a comparative negligence system, which reduces a plaintiff’s financial recovery in proportion to his or her fault for an accident.  

New York Comparative Negligence

New York operates under a pure comparative negligence system. In New York, an injured party can recover from a negligent defendant regardless of his or her percentage of fault for the accident. However, the amount an injured party can recover will be reduced by his or her amount of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 90% responsible for causing an accident, he or she can still recover for damages caused by a defendant who was 10% at fault. This amount, however, will be reduced by 90%.

Common Types of Comparative Negligence Claims

Comparative negligence can be raised by a defendant to reduce his or her liability in just about any type of personal injury case. Examples of cases in which a plaintiff may have his or her compensation reduced due to comparative negligence include: 

  • An automobile accident involving a plaintiff who wasn’t wearing a seat belt
  • A motorcycle accident involving a plaintiff who wasn’t wearing a helmet or was driving recklessly 
  • A bicycle accident involving a plaintiff who failed to use proper hand signals or wear reflective clothing
  • A pedestrian accident involving a plaintiff who crossed in the middle of the street 
  • A bus accident involving a plaintiff who failed to wait for the bus to come to a stop before standing up 
  • A plaintiff in a premises liability case who did not heed warnings about a wet floor or other danger

Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney 

If you’ve suffered an injury in New York, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. At the Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr., we represent injury victims in Brooklyn and Staten Island. When you come to us for assistance, we’ll do everything in our power to ensure that you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Please contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation.