Comparative Fault Law in New York
Uploaded on: Jun 14, 2022
Duration: 2.5 Min

Video Description

Accidents can be complicated and have many causes. The law recognizes this through the principle of comparative fault. In a comparative fault system, the court hears all the evidence in a case and uses it to assign percentages of fault to everyone involved in the accident.

The exact rules of comparative fault vary state by state. In this video, we’ll go over the basics of New York’s comparative fault system and how it can affect personal injury claims.


Comparative fault is the law’s term for assigning responsibility to the people involved in an accident. It applies only in cases involving negligence, such as car accidents. It does not come up in cases about intentional misconduct, such as assault. In any negligence case, the jury is asked to evaluate all the evidence in a case and assign a percentage of the fault to anyone to blame for an accident.

For example, in a car accident where someone slams on the brakes abruptly and someone rear-ends them, the jury might assign 10% of the fault to the driver in the front and 90% of the fault to the driver who rear-ended him. There’s no exact formula for determining fault; juries come up with numbers on a case-by-case basis after hearing all the evidence. This means it’s hard to predict exactly how much fault a jury will find in a person’s conduct.

The jury does not have to assign fault to everyone involved in an accident. In a case where someone is truly blameless, the jury can rule that person is 0% at fault. Likewise, the jury can find someone 100% at fault.


Once fault is determined, any damages are reduced by a person’s percentage of the fault. Using the example earlier, let’s say the driver who got rear-ended was suing the driver who rear-ended him. If the jury found he suffered $100,000 in damages, that amount would be reduced by 10% because that’s his share of the fault, leaving him with a $90,000 award.

New York is a little unusual in that it follows a pure comparative fault model. In most states, a person who is more than 50% at fault for an accident cannot receive monetary compensation. However, New York simply reduces the award, regardless of fault. So, someone 70% at fault for an accident would still have 30% of their damages covered.

The vast majority of personal injury cases end in a settlement, not a trial, so most cases never actually end up with percentages of fault assigned. However, lawyers negotiate settlements based on how strong their cases are. A plaintiff who is relatively blameless in an accident will usually be able to get a larger settlement because the defendant knows that they would be ordered to pay more if the case went to trial.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Rosenblum Law for a free consultation today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will assess your case and find the best strategy to get you all the compensation you deserve.

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