Car Accidents: How Negligence Can Influence Your Compensation

Negligence is perhaps the most impactful and the least understood among all the factors that go into a car accident compensation package. While negligence can ensure you get what you deserve when someone injures you in a car accident, it can also limit what you get if you are adjudged partially responsible for the accident.

Understanding how negligence affects your case will allow you to make key decisions regarding moving forward. The following is a synopsis of negligence’s role in a car accident. You can learn more from this Manhattan car accident lawyer about how negligence may affect your specific case. 

Comparative Negligence

The first aspect of negligence that everyone in a vehicular accident should learn is “comparative negligence.” Comparative or contributory negligence means that each contributing party to an accident is assigned a percentage of fault, and any damages awarded to one party have that percentage subtracted from the award amount.

For instance, if a jury awards you $100 and you are found to be 10% at fault in an accident, the award you would receive would be $90.

Burden of Proof

While the plaintiff’s job in any negligence case is to prove the defendant contributed to the accident sufficiently to owe the plaintiff damages, the defendant has a role to play. That role, in addition to attempting to prove they were not negligent, is to prove that the defendant’s actions leading up to and during an accident contributed to the accident.

If the defendant can do that, they will be able to reduce the total amount of damages they might owe the plaintiff. In a car accident case with significant damages, even as little as a percentage or two can mean thousands that the defendant does not have to pay.

As a Defendant

If you are the defendant, negligence can also significantly impact your case. You might still be on the hook for damages, but comparative negligence gives you the incentive to hire a competent attorney and work with them to establish that you were not entirely at fault.

If substantial damages are involved, proving you were not at fault or only partially at fault can save your insurance company and yourself a lot of money. The savings on a $1 million award if the other party is found to have a 5% contributive role in causing the accident, or their injury, would be $50,000.

That might not seem much compared to the award, but considering how a large settlement might affect your insurance rates in the future, every little penny you can save counts.

Gross Negligence

Another term that affects the outcome of an award amount is “gross negligence.” Gross negligence is a step above ordinary negligence in terms of the fault and associated penalties or awards. To be guilty of gross negligence, it must be proven that you intentionally disregarded precautions regardless of whether it would hurt people.

In New York, gross negligence also requires you to prove the individual made a conscious decision to do wrong. Intentionally cutting you off and causing an accident is one example of gross negligence. A rendering of gross negligence could affect the total amount of damages you are owed, or if you are a defendant, is awarded against you. 

In addition, most incidents of gross negligence also involve the committal of a criminal act. Suppose a driver intentionally cuts you off, leading to an accident. In that case, that driver may also be charged with criminal negligence, endangerment, and even more serious crimes if death results from their careless and deliberate action. 

The side effect of a gross negligence charge or finding is that your damages are more likely to be awarded. Additionally, you may be entitled to additional or different damages. Finally, a gross negligence case will entail a higher burden of proof for the defendant to avoid all responsibility for causing the accident.

Final Thoughts

Negligence in New York is complicated and can hugely impact what might seem like a routine car accident case. Because negligence can affect a case, hiring an attorney specializing in negligence is critical.

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