HOW DOES THECOMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE RULE WORK?

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HOW DOES THECOMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE RULE WORK?

I WAS DRIVING EAST ON A LOCAL ROAD, A FEW HUNDRED FEET FROM A “RED”TRAFFIC LIGHT. AN 86 YEAR-OLD MAN TRAVELING WEST DECIDED (IN A SERIOUS LAPSE OF JUDGEMENT, IN MY OPINION) THAT HE HAD THE RIGHT-OF-WAY TO MAKE A LEFT TURN INTO A SHOPPING CENTER. HE ABRUPTLY AND UNEXPECTEDLY TURNED LEFT, INTO MY PATH, AND HIS RIGHT FRONT BUMPER IMPACTED THE CENTER OF MY FRONT BUMPER RIGHT ON THE LICENSE PLATE. HIS INSURANCE COMPANY IS TAKING THE POSITION THAT HE IS ONLY 90% RESPONSIBLE. I FEEL THAT HE IS 100% RESPONSIBLE. CAN I SUCCESSFULLY PREVAIL ?

Asked on August 5, 2010 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues in your question.

Legally, comparative negligence means that what a person could recover is reduced by the percentage he or she is responsible for the accident. Say that ordinarily someone might be able to recover $3,000 for automotive repairs. If he is 90% at fault, he can only recover 10% of that, or $300.

The second issue is practical--determining the exact amount of liability of someone. There are no hard and fast rules; it's a matter for the insurance adjuster's or investigator's discretion, or for the judgment of the jury if the matter goes to court. So yes--it's possibly that if you contest this, the other person could be 100% at fault. Or if this is litigated, a jury might find him only 80% or 70% at fault.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In states that follow comparative negligence, more than one party can be held liable based on percentage of fault.  If the other driver is 90% liable, it means that you could recover 90% of the damages (monetary compensation) you are seeking to recover.  The other driver would only be able to recover 10% of his damages from you.  Given the disparity in liability, you actually have prevailed in the matter; however, I understand that you want to recover 100% of your damages from the other party and be 0% liable.  If there was a police report of the accident and it concludes that the other driver was at fault and you were not liable, you could use it to claim that the other driver is 100% liable.


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