Can I Sue If I Partly Caused the Accident?
Car crashes and other types of accidents can result in catastrophic injuries or even death. Often, people who survive accidents with serious injuries are left with huge medical bills and are not able to work. They may live with tremendous pain and suffering, unable to do basic things like cleaning their house or picking up their children. Sometimes, however, an accident victim is also partly to blame. If you were in a car accident, you may have questions such as whether you can sue the other driver even though you partly caused the accident, among other things. Our New York City car accident lawyers are here to help answer these questions for you.
New York follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. That means that your recovery will not be barred, but it can be reduced in an amount proportionate to your percentage of fault for the accident. For example, if you were excessively speeding, and another driver rolled through a stop sign, you may share some liability for the resulting accident. If the jury determines that the damages are $100,000, and you are 50% at fault, while the other driver is 50% at fault, you can recover $50,000.
For another example, if you were texting, and you did not see when a drunk driver drifted into your lane, you may both have some responsibility for the resulting accident. If your damages are $200,000, and you are 20% responsible, while the drunk driver is 80% responsible, you will only be able to recover 80% of $200,000 from the drunk driver, or $160,000.
Your ability to collect damages from a driver responsible for your injuries is usually dependent on their having insurance. However, some drivers have no automobile insurance or have insufficient insurance. In that case, your lawyer may need to make a claim against your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage provides that if somebody covered by the policy is injured due to the negligence or recklessness of the driver of another vehicle, and that other driver does not have liability insurance, the policyholder's insurer will stand in the shoes of the other driver and pay the insured's damages. There is also underinsured coverage, which applies when another driver has some coverage but not enough to pay the full amount of damages. Uninsured motorist coverage also applies if you are injured in a hit and run accident.
In New York, the amount of time that you have to sue after an accident depends on whether the accident physically injures you or killed a loved one. Anybody injured in a car crash, whether that person is a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian, has only three years from the date of the accident to sue the party or parties at fault. However, if a loved one is killed in a car accident, a different timeline applies to the wrongful death lawsuit. Family members or a personal representative of the decedent's estate have two years from the date of the death (rather than the date of the accident) to sue for damages. The statute of limitations period is very important. If you try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run, the court will not hear your case.
After a car accident, you may not be entirely certain about who caused the accident and whether you contributed to it. You may be worried about whether the other driver has sufficient coverage to address all of the harm done to you. If you are seriously injured in a New York City accident and are concerned about such issues as whether you can sue if you partly caused the accident, it is vital to consult an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Although you have some time before the statute of limitations runs out, it can be important to collect evidence of an accident immediately. Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP provides dedicated legal representation in car accident lawsuits. We represent people in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Contact us at 718-896-2700 or via our online form.