How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in New York
New York requires car owners to maintain no-fault auto insurance that provides coverage after an accident, regardless of who is responsible for the crash. If medical expenses from a car accident exceed what is available from the no-fault insurance policy, a crash victim may have a right to sue the driver responsible for the accident to seek compensation.
To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit filed in conjunction with a car accident, the injured person must show that the defendant caused the accident. Demonstrating that a driver’s negligence caused a car accident typically requires an independent investigation of the accident.
At The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., our Queens car accident attorneys have extensive experience investigating crashes and helping injured people seek the full compensation they need for medical bills, lost income, and other losses.
How to Prove Fault in a Car Accident
Though New York is a no-fault state, someone who has suffered a serious injury in a car accident may be eligible to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance, which covers medical expenses and vehicle damage.
If an insurance settlement cannot be reached, the injured person may file a personal injury lawsuit and pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Essentially, a person filing an injury claim needs to provide evidence that the other driver’s carelessness or disregard for safety led to the accident. Most car accidents are caused by driver error, whether it is a mistake such as failing to check blind spots, speeding, following too closely, impaired driving, or distracted driving.
It is important to report a car accident to NYC police and wait for an officer to respond. If an officer can identify the probable cause of a car accident, the officer will record their findings on the accident report.
In addition to containing the basic facts about an accident, the police report may offer the officer’s opinion of who was at fault. You should obtain the police report after an accident.
In an independent car accident investigation, investigators for The Tadchiev Law Firm can gather evidence from multiple potential sources to determine what happened and why.
The evidence may include:
- Accident scene debris and damage
- Vehicle damage, which indicates how the vehicles collided and more
- Statements from witnesses
- Traffic and weather reports from the time of the crash
- The vehicles’ event data recorders (EDRs). Data from these devices show the vehicles’ speed, braking, acceleration, steering trajectory, and more just before a collision
- Surveillance camera footage from stores, ATMs, or public buildings near the accident scene. Footage may show the accident and/or a reckless driver’s activity leading up to the crash.
- The at-fault driver’s cellphone records. The use of a cellphone at the time of the crash indicates distracted driving.
- The other driver’s debit or credit card records. These time-and-date-stamped records may show food or beverage purchases immediately prior to the crash, including any alcohol purchases.
- Social media accounts, where an at-fault driver may post incriminating information.
In some cases, our attorneys work with an accident reconstruction specialist. These forensic investigators can provide testimony in court accompanied by a multi-media presentation of their findings.
Who Is At Fault in Your Car Accident
Some example car accident scenarios include:
- Who Is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision? In most cases, it is assumed that the driver of the car that strikes another vehicle from behind is at fault. However, there may be reasons that the driver of the front vehicle may share responsibility for a rear-end crash. A driver may have abruptly changed lanes in front of a faster vehicle, backed into the rear car, or had non-working brake lights.
- Who Is At Fault for a Side-Impact Collision? In a side-impact collision, the driver who did not have the right of way and failed to yield is typically at fault. Usually, a driver’s error or reckless act, such as running a stop light causes a side-impact or “T-bone” collision.
- Who Is at Fault for a Car Rollover? In some cases, the vehicle itself contributes to a rollover accident. Research has shown that SUVs and pickup trucks are more likely to roll over than other passenger vehicles because they are tall and top-heavy. A vehicle’s manufacturer may share fault for a crash that is due to the vehicle’s unsafe design.
- Which Driver is at Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Pileup? In a multi-vehicle chain-reaction accident, there may be multiple drivers at fault for various collisions. One driver may have been following too closely before rear-ending the vehicle ahead. Skid marks may show that another driver was speeding.
- Who Could Be at Fault in a Head-on Collision? Typically, in a head-on collision, one car can be shown to have been headed the wrong way in a lane of traffic, which puts that wrong-way driver at fault. In some cases, an inattentive or drunk driver may drift across the centerline into an oncoming lane of traffic and cause a head-on collision.
Shared Fault and Comparative Negligence in New York
You may wonder why we would look beyond the driver who caused a car accident and try to assign fault to others involved in the crash. New York applies a pure comparative fault rule when awarding compensation in car accident cases.
A jury hearing a car accident case first determines who is at fault and the amount of compensation that should be awarded. Then the jury must decide whether the individual they have awarded damages shares any blame for the accident. If so, the damages awarded are reduced in proportion to the assigned share of fault.
For example, if a jury found the other driver was 75 percent at fault and you were 25% at fault for a crash and awarded $100,00 in total damages, then you would be eligible to receive $75,000 in compensation.
Talk to Our Experienced Queens Car Accident Attorneys
The Queens car accident attorneys of The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., are available to review your accident and discuss your legal options. We can investigate your car accident and help you pursue the maximum compensation available by law. Most car accident claims are settled out of court.
Let us help you seek justice. Our initial consultation about your car accident claim is free. We charge no fees unless we recover money for you. Contact us today.