Car accidents happen every day in New York City – over 300 of them on average. The hustle and bustle of the city isn’t conducive to careful driving, and there are so many people and sights that drivers can easily become distracted. Motor vehicle crashes aren’t the only type of personal injury accident that New Yorkers fall victim to. If a car accident, slip and fall accident, construction site incident, or other type of accident causes you to be injured, liability and fault will play a major role in your claim for damages.

New York’s Comparative Negligence Law

Fault is arguably the most important aspect of personal injury cases, and New York uses a legal doctrine known as comparative negligence to determine fault. It allows the injured victim to receive compensation even if they were partially at fault for the accident that hurt them. New York’s comparative negligence rule states that injured parties can recover damages if fault is shared between the parties, but any compensation awarded will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

For example, suppose Bethany and Marcus were in a car accident. Bethany was awarded $30,000 for her injuries, but she was also found to be 25% at fault for the collision. Her $30,000 would be reduced by 25%, making the total she receives $22,500.

Joint and Several Liability in New York

Adding to the complexity of New York personal injury claims and comparative negligence is the rule of joint and several liability, which states that more than one defendant can be held liable for an accident. Each defendant found at fault for a plaintiff’s injuries may be held responsible for the economic losses the plaintiff experienced. Non-economic losses are not included in joint and several liability.

Joint and several liability should not be confused with joint liability, which is a similar but separate legal principle. Joint liability also allows multiple defendants to be held responsible for an injury-causing accident, but the responsibility is shared equally between each at-fault party. In joint and several liability, each party’s responsibility is based on their percentage of fault.

Economic and Non-Economic Losses

There are two common types of damages that can be awarded in New York personal injury cases – economic and non-economic.

Economic damages include losses and expenses caused by the accident. They tend to be relatively easy to quantify and include medical expenses, loss of income, personal care costs, and property damage. Hospital bills, ambulance transportation costs, home health care, lost wages, and car repair costs are a few specific examples of expenses that would qualify as economic losses.

Non-economic losses are more difficult to put a price on because their value is not clearly defined. The pain and suffering that injured victims endure are considered non-economic damages. These include:

  • Emotional distress and anxiety

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Physical pain and suffering brought on by injuries

  • Scarring and disfigurement

  • Permanent injuries and disabilities

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Loss of consortium

Placing a value on the suffering of an accident victim is no easy task. Each person’s experience is unique to them, which is why calculating a price for non-economic damages is so difficult.

There is also a third category called punitive damages. These are rare in personal injury cases. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party for their behavior, not compensate the victim for losses they’ve experienced. There must have been a willful disregard for the safety of others or extreme negligence that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Contact Mark E. Seitelman Law Offices – Accident & Injury Attorneys if you have questions about which damages you may be able to recover in your New York personal injury case.

Steps to Take After an Accident

If you’re looking for information regarding joint and several liability after an accident, the time for reporting the accident and getting witness contact information has likely passed. However, the below steps are a few of the actions you may want to take later on in the post-accident stages.

  • If you haven’t already, write down all the details you can remember. It is better to do this sooner rather than later because memories fade over time. Try to include details like the weather, road conditions, behavior of the other party, and anything else you can remember about the moments leading up to the crash and the moments afterward.

  • Get copies of police and first responder reports. These will be useful for an objective third-party perspective of the conditions of the accident.

  • Keep all receipts, invoices, and bills associated with accident-related expenses, including medical bills and car repair invoices. Your personal injury lawyer can use these to calculate the total economic damages and to support the request for damages.

  • Make a list of witnesses you can call to testify or get a statement from. Written statements from people who saw the accident are a good place to start, but you or your lawyer may also want to reach out to expert witnesses who can provide relevant information and perspective on the accident.

Retain an Experienced New York Personal Injury Lawyer

Speaking with a personal injury attorney after an accident gives you the time and space you need to have your questions answered and gain insight into what your accident claim may look like. Finding legal representation that you can trust to advocate for you in settlement negotiations and civil litigation is paramount. Contact Seitelman Law Offices, and schedule your free consultation.