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Can a mistake I made affect my car accident lawsuit?

If you are involved in a car accident o, you may be able to hold the other driver accountable for your damages. However, in New York and in many states across the country, a court could take your level of responsibility for the incident into account.

In some states, a plaintiff who is found responsible in any way is barred from recovering compensation, but that is not the case in New York. However, New York law states that your negligence could have an effect on the outcome of your lawsuit.

Using a pure contributory negligence model, the state will evaluate how each party contributed to the incident. If you are found to be even just 1 percent responsible, your award will be reduced proportionate to your level of responsibility. Even plaintiffs found to have had the majority of the fault are still permitted to obtain compensation for damages in New York.

To put this in real terms, suppose you are involved in a car accident. You were driving slightly above the speed limit and were not wearing your seatbelt. As you passed through an intersection at a green light, another vehicle ran a red light and slammed into you car, leaving you with serious injuries.

A court could determine that while the other party is mostly to blame due to running the red light, your negligence – speeding and not wearing a seatbelt – contributed to 20 percent of your damages. The court awards $10,000 in the case, but you only receive $8,000 because the award is reduced by your share of the responsibility.

This model illustrates the importance of building a solid case so you can recover maximum compensation. While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.


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