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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How Comparative Negligence Impacts an Injury Lawsuit

Q: Can I sue if I was partially at fault?

If a driver had a car accident and was speeding, lost control of the car, hit a tree head-on, and died can their family sue the car manufacturer and recover monetary damages? The answer depends on many variables including what state the accident happened in.

In a personal injury or wrongful death action, a victim (or their closest surviving relatives if they died) sues another person or entity for monetary damages they claim were caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional actionsor inactionsof that person or entity. Such lawsuits can also be based on injuries due to a defective or dangerous product.

What is comparative or contributory negligence?

Even in cases where the victim can prove the defendant was liable, it is possible that the victim was also partially responsible for the accident. This is known as comparative negligence or contributory negligence and, depending on the laws of the state where the accident occurred, the victim’s partial responsibility for the accident can be a complete bar to their recovery of damages.

However, in other states, like New York, the victim can still recover damages if they contributed to their own injurybut their award will be reduced “in proportion to the amount they contributed to the injury”. Examples of contributory or comparative negligence as applied in a car accident scenario might include the victim driving while impaired or speeding.

Recently, a doctor lost control of a Tesla and hit a palm tree. According to his family’s wrongful death lawsuit, he survived the crash but the car quickly caught fire and the first responders were unable to open the “inaccessible door handles” which are reportedly designed to “auto-present” or pop out when a key fob is nearby. The family claims the car’s lithium-ion battery caught fire and he died trapped in the smoking, burning car being burned “beyond recognition”. Speed may have been a factor in the crash.

If you or a loved one is injured, or a loved one is killed, as a result of someone else’s actions or a dangerous or defective product, the Law Office of Ryan S. Goldstein can help you maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in the Bronx, New York, we represent injured victims and their families throughout New York City and New York State as well as those injured while visiting New York.


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