If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident, you should know it’s always hard to determine who was at fault. In fact, there are very few accidents in which only one driver is at fault. Maybe you were rear-ended. The law almost always holds the rear driver accountable. However, if your brake lights weren’t working, you’ll likely be found to be partially at fault. Or, if someone is speeding and smashes into your car, the cops might discover that you were speeding too.
So, what happens when both drivers are partially at fault? Does that mean that you both walk away with nothing? Not necessarily. Buffalo car accident lawyers understand that very rarely is their client 100% innocent in the crash. However, if you’re less at fault than the other driver, you will probably still have a valid claim for damages.
New York follows something called comparative negligence. This means that, as long as you are less than 50% at fault, you can collect damages from the defendant. Your attorney knows this. So does the insurance company. That’s why so many car accident lawsuits settle long before they go to trial. So, if you’re injured in a car accident and you aren’t sure if you have claim for damages, you should talk to a skilled Buffalo car accident lawyer right away.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work in New York?
Whenever you sue somebody for damages in New York, you need to prove things. First, your Buffalo car accident lawyer needs to demonstrate that the other driver was at fault. They do this by proving negligence. Negligence requires that you show the following four (4) things:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care – This is easy. All drivers owe the other motorists a duty of care. At a minimum, they need to follow all traffic laws.
- The driver breached this duty of care – You can demonstrate this by showing that they were speeding, driving while under the influence or any other number of things.
- You were injured – The best way to prove this is to go to the hospital immediately after your accident. Your car accident lawyer in New York can submit copies of your medical records as proof.
- The injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach – This is usually the hardest thing to prove. You need to show that, had the defendant acted differently, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
Even if you can show these four things, you need to prove damages. This usually involves the following things:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
Depending on how bad your accident is, these damages could be large or small. If the defendant can show that you were partially at fault, your damages will be reduced. They are reduced by your percentage of fault. So, let’s consider that you sue someone for $100,000. The court determines that you were 30% at fault. They will reduce your claim by $30,000, which is 30% of the $100,000 in total damages.
The good news is that your New York accident lawyer is aware of this. That’s why they’ll work hard to settle your case out of court. Nobody wants to go to trial. They are time consuming and expensive. There’s also the chance that you could lose and get nothing.
Retain an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Buffalo Right Away
If you or your child are injured in a car accident, you should talk to an experienced car accident lawyer in Buffalo right away. You have no idea how the insurance company is going to respond to your claim. If you’re lucky, it’ll be paid. However, there’s no guarantee this will happen. If your claim is denied, you’re going to want a skilled lawyer by your side. This way, they can help you appeal your claim. And, if necessary, they can file a lawsuit against the other driver.
The best thing to do is call and talk to a skilled Buffalo car accident attorney sooner rather than later. They’ll make sure your insurance claim is handled properly from the start. They can also negotiate with the insurance adjustor to get your claim paid. Call today and schedule your free initial consultation. Sit down with someone who knows the law and has handled dozens of cases like yours before. The consultation is free and you don’t pay anything until your case is settled.