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EP03 S02: What if I am partially at fault in a Car Accident

EP03 S02: What if I am partially at fault in a Car Accident

Trial Stories Podcast

Discover our new podcast episode, so I wanted to talk to you today about a question that you have, a question that a lot of people have, and that is if I am partially at fault in a car accident, can I still recover compensation?

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 Full Transcript:

Welcome to Trial Stories an informative discussion of civil justice with a focus on the human story. I’m your host. Arkady Frekhtman a New York City trial lawyer passionate about helping serious injury victims and their families.

Hi everyone. My name is are Arkady Frekhtman. I’m a trial lawyer here in New York and I handled personal injury and civil cases, civil justice.

So I wanted to talk to you today about a question that you have, a question that a lot of people have, and that is if I am partially at fault in a car accident, can I still recover compensation? And the answer is a resounding yes. And it really goes down into two different categories or two different sections.

First of all, under the law in New York, if you were involved in a car crash, you are entitled to what’s known as no-fault benefits. There’s a no-fault law. Also, known as personal injury protection or PIP. And what that essentially means is if you were involved in a car accident, you can obtain benefits from the insurance policy of the vehicle you were physically sitting in. So if you’re a driver or a passenger, it’s the vehicle that you’re sitting in. So for example, if someone is at a red light and they’re waiting for that light to change, and all of a sudden another car hits them in the back, they can obtain personal injury benefits from the car they’re sitting in their own car. And that insurance company will pay them for their medical bills. So you can get medical treatment and all your medical bills get paid. You can also obtain lost wages. So if the injury was so bad that you missed a month from work, you can get all that lost salary and lost wages, up to $50,000 from the primary car, the car that you’re sitting in.

Now, what about the car that rear-ends you? If you end up having what’s known as a serious injury, and you want to file a lawsuit against the other car, the car that hit you, you can do that as well. You have to have a serious injury to overcome the no-fault threshold or the, I guess it’s like a barrier to entry. You have to step over a certain threshold and have a serious injury. It has nine different categories. It gets a little bit complicated, but usually, most injuries that are serious, like a broken bone will qualify. Or even a medical treatment that goes for three months where your range of motion compared to normal is decreased. And you have an objective injury such as a herniated disc or a bulging disc.

So when you go to file a lawsuit, what will happen there is you are now going before a jury. And so even if you were found at fault, you can still recover as long as you’re not 100% at fault. So for example, if someone files a lawsuit against another car, a driver of another car, and it’s an accident because of a lane change like a sideswipe. And the person wants to sue and then the jury says, okay, you know what? We believe that based on this rendition of what you’ve told us, like both cars changing lanes at the same time, you’re each 50-50 liable. It’s 50-50.

That’s what the jury says in their verdict because that’s what they get to do in their verdict. They get to apportion liability and put a percentage of fault to each driver. They could say a 100-0, 99-1, any kind of percentage.

So if they say 50-50, and they say, and we believe your injuries are serious, you had surgery, we’re going to allow for 200,000. Well, now you, as the person that’s suing because you have 50% of the fault, you cannot obtain money for the percentage that you are at fault. So now you can obtain 100,000, the other 50%, the 50% that is the fault of the defendant under New York law. You can still obtain 100,000, you just can’t obtain the full 200 that the jury gave you because they found you 50% at fault.

So I hope this has been helpful. This is just a brief rendition of answering the question, can I still recover compensation if I was a little at fault in my car crash?

First of all, we talked about the no-fault law, which gives you the ability to get medical care and all your medical bills get paid. You can have your lost wages paid so that is a benefit. A lot of times your property damage can be paid either by your own insurance or by the insurance of the other car.

And then the flip side is once you file a lawsuit for pain and suffering, as well as the loss of enjoyment of life and other damages, you have to have a serious injury. You have to get over that initial barrier, the threshold. But if you were able to overcome that, then the fact that you are at fault will just reduce the ultimate amount by the percentage that you were at fault. Said another way, you can’t recover money for the percentage of fault that you have. So in that example, where the jury gives you 200,000 if it’s a 50-50 case, and the jury says, no, it’s 50-50, you don’t get the full 200,000, which you would have gotten had you proven that you were 0% at fault and the defendant was 100% at fault, you would get the full 200. But in that situation where it’s 50-50, and the verdict is 200,000, you would be able to obtain 100,000, the 50% that was the fault of the defendant who hit you.

So I hope this has been helpful. Let us know if you have any questions, feel free to drop us a comment or let us know what questions or what topics you’re interested in and we’ll try to shoot a video to answer your questions, a personal video for you. Have a great day everyone, and stay safe out there. Enjoy. Have a great day.

Okay. I hope this has been helpful. Please drop us a comment, subscribe to our podcast, let us know what other topics you’d like to hear about. We have a lot of trial stories from all types of cases, construction, work accidents, slip and falls, premises, ceiling collapses. We have brain injuries. We have spinal cord injuries. Medical cases with medical mistakes. All types of cases. So whatever you’re most interested in is what we’re going to talk about.

Have a great day, everyone. Bye-bye.