When a car accident happens in Buffalo, NY, the law seems simple: the party at fault covers all losses. Starting from this premise, many victims prefer not to contact a car accident lawyer. However, few cases are as simple as that. Most of the times, all the parties involved in the accident share some degree of fault. Figuring things out in such cases requires a thorough understanding of the contributory negligence laws in force in the state of NY. A Buffalo car accident lawyer can tell you more.
New York Contributory Negligence Laws through the Eyes of a Buffalo Car Accident Lawyer
Contributory negligence is covered by NY Consolidated Laws CVP Sections 1401 – 1411. According to these sections, someone sharing fault for their accident may still seek compensation from the other party. They can do so even if they were the most at fault for the accident.
Whether or not they can actually recover any money is a completely different story. The law stipulates that the compensation of the claimant will be reduced according to their own share of fault. Since claiming compensation can be time-consuming and costly, it is important to determine whether or not compensation is due and in what amount.
For this purpose, the law requires that both accident fault and the losses subject to compensation be seen as 100%. The next step would be to determine each party’s fault percentage. That percentage will also represent their liability for the losses involved.
The best way to understand the implications is trough a concrete example. Let’s say an accident resulted in total losses of $100,000. One of the drivers was 25% at fault, while the other one was 75% at fault. According to NY law, the former driver is responsible for $25,000 worth of losses. The latter driver is responsible for $75,000 worth of losses.
The tricky part is how these percentages are established, and it brings us back to NY laws. In all civil actions, the burden of proof falls on the claimant. Thus, the accident victim seeking compensation for their losses will have to prove the defendant’s liability.
Evidence Requirements in Contributory Negligence Cases
The claimant will need to show that:
- The defendant acted negligently
- Their negligence caused the accident
- The losses subject to the compensation claim were the result of the accident
They will need solid evidence, which can be difficult to obtain without the help of an experienced Buffalo car wreck attorney. Common examples of evidence are:
- The police accident report
- Photos and recordings from the accident scene
- Witness statements
- Auto shop report and invoice
- Medical evaluations and reports
- Any bills, invoices, and reports that can prove the losses and expenses incurred
- Estimates of future losses
- Technical expertise of the vehicle
- Expert testimonies
- Treatment recommendations and prescriptions
- Drug leaflets
- Similar precedent case reviews
- Anything that could prove the claimant’s non-economic losses: pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium or ability to enjoy life or certain activities, etc.
For the average person, figuring out what qualifies as acceptable evidence and what does not can be challenging. That is why it is important to work with an experienced Buffalo auto accident lawyer. The latter will know exactly where to look and what type of evidence to use.
They will also help their client defend themselves against any accusations brought to them. In most accident cases, defendants will try to attribute as much fault as possible to the claimant. It is in their best interest, as every percentage of fault they divert from themselves means less money out of their pockets.
Buffalo car accident attorneys know that and do not rest until they dismantle all the evidence against their clients. Moreover, by taking over all the paperwork and legal hassles, auto accident lawyers save their clients a great deal of time, effort, and money. They also manage to speed up procedures, negotiate with the defendant, and obtain the compensation their clients deserve faster.
Let a Buffalo Car Accident Lawyer Help You Claim Compensation for Your Losses
No matter if you shared fault for your car accident or not, we can help. From reviewing your case, assessing fault, and estimating claim value to getting you the compensation you deserve, we can handle it all.
Obtaining our opinion and advice will not even cost you, due to our “free preliminary consultation policy. Call our office now or use the contact form to schedule a consultation with Buffalo Car Accident Lawyers! You have nothing to lose and so much to win.