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Understanding "Pure Comparative Fault"

In most personal injury suits, there is one plaintiff seeking relief for their injuries and one defendant blamed for the accident that harmed them. However, accidents can be more complex than this. Sometimes there are multiple people at fault. Sometimes the plaintiff partially contributed to their own injury.

In this more nuanced and complex cases, New York's "pure comparative fault" law comes into play. Comparative fault allows the court to determine what percentage of fault each involved party should shoulder following an accident. That percentage is then subtracted from the awarded proceeds each involved party receives.

To demonstrate how comparative fault works, let's look at a hypothetical example: three motorists are involved with a multi-car pile-up and each has been found to share a certain degree of fault for the accident. All of them also have injuries or damages. For the sake of simplicity, let’s also say that jury has awarded each driver $10,000 for their hardships following the accident.

In this example, compensation could be handed down in the following way:

  • Driver A is found to be 10% at fault - she receives $9,000
  • Driver B is found to be 15% at fault - he receives $8,500
  • Driver C is found to be 75% at fault - he receives $2,500

As you can see, each driver's optimal compensation, $10,000, was reduced by the degree of fault assigned to them by the court. In this way, all involved parties receive something, but the value of their compensation is dictated by how responsible they were for the accident occurring.

"Pure" Comparative Fault

Unlike many other states, New York has a "pure" version of comparative fault. This means that no matter what their assigned degree of fault is, an individual can still receive money. This is different than other states' "modified" comparative fault, which prevents parties who are primarily responsible for an accident from collecting money.

You can see this in the example above: Driver C clearly was chiefly responsible for the traffic accident (75%), but through pure comparative fault, he was still able to recover some money for other drivers' minimal roles in the accident. While this is a forgiving system, it can also mean fault can be wrongly asserted back at the injured parties by defendants. That is why it is so crucial to have assertive and incisive representation by your side.

If you have been hurt in an accident that was caused by someone else, then we invite you to contact The Rossi Law Firm today. Our aggressive, award-winning Long Island personal injury lawyers have time and time again ensured that best interests of the injured have been spoken for and that maximum compensation for their hardships have been exhaustively pursued.

Start exploring your injury suit options today. Contact us to request a free case evaluation.