O'Connor, O'Connor, Bresee & First, P.C.
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Personal injury claim defenses

Car accidents that take place on New York's roads that involve at least two vehicles can leave one or more of the drivers with serious injuries. The driver believed to be at fault could end up facing a personal injury claim from the other driver. However, just because one driver is seen as having caused the accident, that does not mean that the other driver does not bear some responsibility for the crash.

In many car accidents, the application of fault is not as simple as one person being 100 percent responsible for the incident. The other driver could also be found to be complicit in what happened. That person might have contributed to the accident, which means that he or she would be at least partially responsible for the injuries suffered.

The legal doctrine of comparative negligence assigns responsibility for an accident to each party depending on the circumstances. If the evidence provided establishes that the party making the claim (the plaintiff) somehow contributed to the accident, the court could assign each party a percentage of the liability. Any damages that are awarded would be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff. Here in New York, there is no maximum percentage of responsibility, which means that even if the other party is 99 percent responsible for the crash, a damage award can be entered. However, under this scenario, that party would only be entitled to one percent of the amount awarded.

When the assignment of responsibility in a car accident is questionable, it would be a good idea for the allegedly at-fault driver who is facing a personal injury claim to retain an attorney. Even if the defendant does bear some liability, it might not be 100 percent. A defense of comparative negligence should be raised since the court might determine that the defendant and plaintiff should share liability for the crash.

Source: FindLaw, "Defenses to Negligence Claims", Accessed on Sept. 12, 2016

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