Determining Who is At-Fault in NY Car Accidents

Determining Who is At-Fault in NY Car Accidents
Calendar icon August 5, 2020

For anyone recently in a car crash, there are many things to handle. First, you’re working with your insurance company and taking some time to recover. Second, though, is the worry. What if everything doesn’t work out as it should?

Call a car accident lawyer in Buffalo, NY for help with your recent car wreck. A lawyer can help you understand the process of an insurance claim, and pursuing a lawsuit if necessary. Because of New York’s “fault” system, many people seek alternative options aside from their insurance payout.

How Does New York Assess Fault?

New York courts and the insurance companies that must work within these restraints use a comparative fault system. That means instead of how other states decide that one driver is “at-fault” that each driver is a little bit at fault.

In some cases, a court or insurance company could decide that one driver is 42% at fault while the other is 58% at fault. This system impacts various aspects of a car wreck. Not only does it affect the insurance settlement possibilities for both drivers. It affects the handling of other financial obligations such as medical bills, and vehicle repairs.

Comparative Fault

The downfall of New York’s system is that there is not a guaranteed formula. While many other states fall under criticism because there’s little room for any grey area, NY is all grey area.

For a little comparison, “At-Fault” states almost always decide that one driver is at fault, even in multi-car crashes. Even in situations where the weather or unavoidable road conditions were the cause of the accident.

For many people, that system works well, but there is always someone in that situation who is left with all the burden. Supposing that there aren’t any extra issues with car insurance coverage. The at-fault person’s insurance company must foot the bill to the extent of its coverage. Then people can sue the driver for anything else related to the crash.

The comparative fault system would ideally account for situations where road conditions, traffic control devices, and other uncontrollable aspects. Unfortunately, what often happens with the comparative fault is that each insurance company takes enough responsibility to avoid a costly payout.

What Can Impact Comparative Fault?

Since there is no clear formula on how to calculate comparative fault, the court system turns to the evidence at hand. Essentially, they determine everything on a case-by-case basis.

Of the many things that affect the percentage of fault decided, you can count on these being part of the final outcome:

  • Police report
  • Any citations issued at the scene
  • Statements from witnesses
  • Determination if anyone was violating basic traffic laws
  • Police officers observations at the scene

No-Fault Claims Need A Car Wreck Lawyer

There are many instances when the courts decide that this is a no-fault incident. From as far back as 1970, New York has had laws that require insurance companies to pay out even if no one was at fault.

The idea is that insurance companies shouldn’t be able to drag out litigation processes to avoid paying out a settlement. Hardly ever though do these cases include bodily injury claims. When someone files a claim as an injured pedestrian, they will file a claim with the driver’s insurance.

The insurance company may find the pedestrian or bicyclists claim as “no-fault” but determine any claim from the driver with a different response under comparative fault.

Insurance companies are careful to handle two claims separately with the same stringent requirements on proof. No-fault claims in New York do cap-out at $50,000. The compensation amount depends on the person’s medical expenses, and lost wages.

It is important to note that no-fault claims do not cover pain and suffering. Many people who go through no-fault claims seek legal help to cover the costs of pain and suffering.

Contact Cellino and Cellino

Claim decisions often lead to controversy as the parties involved often feel like there isn’t much that they can do. That’s not true though. Everyone has options following a claim decision, even with no-fault claims.

Working with an attorney you can learn more about the rules that impacted your claim. The right attorney for you should let you focus on your recovery while handling other aspects of the case. Collecting witness statements, reviewing the police report, and investigating citations can all play a part in these situations.

In comparative fault cases, there is the possibility that the courts overlooked the basic aspects of the situation. On top of the police report, citations, and witness statements they should evaluate the hard evidence too. Pictures of the scene, medical reports, and findings from your doctor can impact the final outcome as well.

Cellino Law helps those in need throughout Buffalo and across the state of New York.



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