Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit When You May Be Partially at Fault

Fault in the Immediate Aftermath of a Car Crash in Rochester

When you are involved in a car accident that results in serious injuries in Rochester, NY, it can be difficult to remember exactly how the crash occurred. To be sure, the immediate psychological effects of a motor vehicle collision are often significant. A driver may not have specific memories of the time surrounding the collision and could experience post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident.

All of this is to say that, even if you feel relatively certain that another motorist was at fault for the traffic crash, you may not have a specific memory of the moments immediately before the crash and thus may not be able to articulate how it happened.

The time surrounding an accident can feel like a whirlwind. In some cases, while disoriented from the crash, you may even have made a comment about your own fault in the collision to another party such as an occupant of your vehicle or a law enforcement official who arrived at the scene. 

Whether you have concerns about your own liability in the collision or you know that you were in violation of a traffic law at the time of the crash, it is important to understand your options for filing a car accident lawsuit when you may be partially at fault. The key piece of information to remember is that you can still be eligible to obtain compensation with the help of an experienced Rochester car accident attorney.

Never Admit Fault in a Car Accident

While it may be obvious now, it is important to avoid admitting fault with regard to any aspect of a car accident. Do not admit fault to another motor vehicle occupant at the scene or to another driver, do not admit fault to a law enforcement official, and do not admit fault to an insurance agent even if it is a representative from your own insurance company. When it is time to file a car accident lawsuit, any admission of fault may be used against you to reduce your recovery. 

If you have already admitted fault in some capacity, you should know that you may still be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit. If you did not admit fault but the other driver or another party has raised the issue of comparative fault, your Rochester car accident lawyers can help to prove that you do not bear any liability for the collision. Even if you are found partially at fault, you will still be able to recover damages.

How New York’s Comparative Fault Law Works

Each state has its own comparative fault or contributory negligence laws. In some states, a plaintiff in a car accident case can be barred from recovery entirely if that plaintiff is even 1 percent at fault for an accident or for the severity of her injuries. In other states, a plaintiff will be barred from recovery if that plaintiff is either 50 percent or 51 percent (or more) liable for the accident or the severity of the injuries. New York’s comparative fault law is known as a “pure” comparative fault law. What this means is that a plaintiff can recover damages regardless of that plaintiff’s amount of fault (as long as it is under 100 percent, of course), but the total recovery will be reduced by the plaintiff’s portion of fault. 

In a car accident case where a plaintiff is partially at fault, how does this work? For example, if a court says a plaintiff is 20 percent at fault and the court initially awards the plaintiff $200,000 in compensatory damages, that damages award will be reduced by 20 percent and the plaintiff will recover the remainder. In this particular example, 20 percent of $200,000 is $40,000. The court would subtract the $40,000 from the award, leaving $160,000. Accordingly, the plaintiff would take home $160,000. This is the same calculation that would take place regardless of whether a plaintiff is 1 percent at fault or 99 percent at fault.

Rochester Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Prove You Are Entitled to a Full Damages Award

Even if the defendant raises the issue of comparative fault or contributory negligence, you should not assume that your damages award will be reduced. With assistance from an experienced Rochester car crash lawyer, we can put together evidence that proves you do not bear any responsibility for the accident and that you are entitled to the full amount of the damages award you receive.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Rochester for Help

If you were seriously injured in a car crash and need help proving that you were not at fault, one of our experienced car accident attorneys in Rochester can begin working with you on your case today. Contact King Law online or call us at 585-270-8882 for more information.


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