If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know that it’s impossible to lay all the blame with one driver. In most crashes, even the victim can be found partially at fault. Perhaps they didn’t stop fast enough. Or maybe they were driving a few miles over the speed limit. It’s almost impossible for a Buffalo car accident lawyer to prove that the other driver was 100% at fault. So, what does this mean for you?
In order to get you damages in your New York car accident lawsuit, your attorney needs to do two things. First, they need to prove that the other driver was at fault. To do this, they’ll have to show negligence. The second thing they need to do is prove your damages. They do this with proof of medical bills, lost wages or pain and suffering. If they can’t do both of these things, you won’t receive a dime.
The problem is that the defendant’s lawyer isn’t going to sit back and admit defeat. While your attorney is trying to prove your case, the other side is going to argue that you caused the accident. They know if they do this, they won’t have to pay out your claim. And, if they can prove that you were even partially at fault, they’ll fight to get your damages reduced.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider a settlement. Your Buffalo car accident lawyer will work hard to negotiate a settlement of your case. There’s no guarantee that you will win in court. And, if the defendant is able to prove that you were more than 50% at fault, you’ll get nothing. This is because New York follows a pure comparative negligence rule.
What Does the Comparative Negligence Rule Mean in New York?
In order to prove your car accident case, you need to demonstrate that the other driver caused the accident. To do so, you need to show that they were negligent. This means your Buffalo accident lawyer has to show four (4) things:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care – This isn’t hard to do. Every driver owes all other motorists a certain duty of care. At a minimum, they need to follow the traffic laws and exercise common sense.
- They breached this duty – Your attorney can show this in a variety of ways. They can demonstrate that the other driver was drunk at the time of the crash. Or, they can prove they were speeding or texting while driving.
- You were hurt – You do need to show damages. This can be done using medical records, mechanic’s bills or other out of pocket expenses.
- Your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach – It’s not enough that you were hurt. Your attorney has to connect your injuries and losses to the defendant’s behavior.
If you can do this, then you’ll be entitled to certain damages. However, if the defendant can prove that you were partially at fault, your damages will be reduced. They will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
How Much Will Your Damages Be Reduced in Your Buffalo Car Accident Lawsuit?
If the defendant can show that you were partially at fault, your damages will be reduced. They’ll be reduced by your percentage of fault. Let’s imagine that you were rear-ended. You suffered $25,000 in damages. The defendant’s lawyer proves that one of your brake lights was out at the time of the crash. The judge finds that you were 20% at fault for your accident.
If this happens, your damages will be reduced by 20%. So, your $25,000 case will be reduced by about $5,000. Your attorney understands that this could happen. That’s why they’ll work hard to settle your case rather than risk going to trial. There’s always a chance that you could lose in court. If they find that you were more than 49% at fault, you won’t get a dime.
Contact a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer in Buffalo Right Away
One way to make sure you get the money you deserve is to talk to a car accident lawyer in Buffalo right away. If you can reach out to them the same day as the accident, great. It’s never too soon to talk to an experienced car accident lawyer. You should call our office right away and schedule your free initial consultation. Sit down and let a skilled attorney review your case and let you know what you may be entitled to.