Looking at New York’s pure comparative negligence doctrine

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Last time, we looked briefly at some of the obligations cyclists have on the roadway. These obligations include, among other things, the duty to obey traffic lights and signs, to move to the side of the road out of the way of traffic, and so on.

Most readers have probably witnessed, at some point, a cyclist failing to stop at a stop sign or stop light, failing to signal a turn, riding too far out in the road, and so on. Some readers may have been involved in an accident with or as a cyclist who has done these things. It raises an important question: what happens when to a cyclist’s ability to recover in personal injury litigation when he or she is partially at fault for the accident? First off, it doesn’t mean that the cyclist is unable to recover damages, but it does mean that the cyclist is unable to receive the same amount of damages.

Under New York’s comparative negligence law, contributory negligence does not prevent a plaintiff from recovering damages, but damages can be diminished in proportion to the plaintiff’s contribution to his or her own injuries. New York’s is not the only state that recognizes the principle of comparative negligence, but New York has a minority approach in that it doesn’t prevent a plaintiff’s recovery if the plaintiff is found to be significantly at fault for the claimed damages. This approach is known as pure comparative negligence.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic and how an experienced personal injury can help a plaintiff to address the issue of comparative negligence in personal injury litigation.


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