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Exploring New York's Comparative Negligence Law: How it Impacts Bus Accident Claims in NYC

Written by: Imelda Bouchard

Bus accidents in New York City are unfortunately not uncommon, given the city's bustling streets and heavy traffic. Imagine you're involved in a bus accident; the aftermath can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to understanding how liability and compensation are determined.

With this in mind, getting clued up on New York's comparative negligence law and its implications for bus accident claims will help you with your next steps.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine used to allocate fault among parties involved in an accident. It allows each party to be held accountable based on their degree of fault. There are two main types of comparative negligence: pure and modified.

Pure comparative negligence permits a damaged party to recover even if they are 99% at fault, though their compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Modified comparative negligence, on the other hand, bars recovery if the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault.

New York follows the pure comparative negligence rule. This means that in bus accident cases, even if you are partly responsible for the accident, you can still seek compensation. However, your total recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

The Mechanics of Bus Accident Claims

If you’re involved in a bus accident, there are some key steps to take immediately:

  1. The first is to seek medical attention, even if injuries appear minor.
  2. Officially reporting the accident to the police is also essential, as an accident report can be a vital piece of evidence later on.
  3. Filing a claim involves notifying the bus company or city municipality responsible for the bus. This process can be intricate, particularly when dealing with government entities.
  4. It’s essential to gather evidence, including photographs of the scene, witness statements, and any available video footage. Police reports and medical records will also support your claim.
  5. Legal advice is also a key component since it will make the entire process that much less stressful for you

Impact of Comparative Negligence on Claims

In bus accident claims, each party's role in the accident is assessed to establish their share of liability. For instance, if a pedestrian is hit by a bus while jaywalking but the bus driver was speeding, both parties could be assigned a percentage of fault.

The damages you can recover will depend on this fault assessment. If your total damages amount to $100,000 but you are found to be 30% at fault, your recoverable damages would be reduced to $70,000.

Consider a hypothetical scenario: A cyclist is struck by a bus and sustains injuries amounting to $50,000 in damages. The court determines that the cyclist was 20% at fault for riding in a restricted area, while the bus driver was 80% at fault for not observing traffic signals. Under New York’s pure comparative negligence rule, the cyclist would be entitled to recover $40,000 (80% of the total damages).

Legal Representation and Strategy

A reputable bus accident law firm can help build a strong case to minimize your fault percentage and maximize your compensation. They will gather evidence, consult experts, and develop legal strategies tailored to your situation.

Deciding whether to settle or go to trial is another strategic decision. Settlements can provide quicker resolutions and guaranteed compensation, albeit potentially lower than what might be awarded at trial. Trials, however, offer the chance for full compensation but come with uncertainties and extended timelines.

Final Thoughts

By knowing how fault and compensation are determined, you can better navigate the legal landscape and protect your rights.

If you've been in a bus accident, consulting with a legal expert can provide clarity and guide you through the claims process. Don't let the complexities of comparative negligence deter you from seeking the compensation you deserve.

Imelda Bouchard
Imelda Bouchard is the owner of Gov Relations. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration in Finance​ at the University of Houston-Downtown. Imelda has over a decade of experience working in the finance industry. Following her stint at an international fintech company, she has decided to create a platform where businesses can make use of great business ideas.

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