Can I Bring a Personal Injury Lawsuit if I Was Partially at Fault?

Woman talking to a lawyer

If you suffered a serious injury in a car accident in New York, you might be entitled to recover compensation. But what if you were partly at fault for an accident? Are you still entitled to pursue an injury claim if you contributed to the crash? The answer is yes. Below, we’ll explore the answers to these questions in more detail, and explain your rights under New York state law. 

If you were injured in a car accident, contact a New York personal injury attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C. today for a free consultation. 

New York’s No-Fault Auto Insurance Rules

First, it’s important to establish that New York is technically a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. New York motorists are required to possess at least $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for a single accident. 

Motorists can use PIP coverage to pay for financial damages like medical expenses and lost income regardless of fault. Even if you are technically the at-fault party, and are 100 percent to blame for the accident, you can still turn to your PIP policy for coverage. 

However, New Yorkers are permitted to step outside the no-fault system in some cases. If you suffered a serious injury in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, you could bring a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault motorist. To bring a successful claim or personal injury lawsuit you will need to establish that the other motorist was to blame for the crash. 

Never Assume or Admit Fault

You should never assume that you caused a collision without knowing the full details of the accident, and you certainly should never admit fault at the scene or to an insurance adjuster. Oftentimes, individuals who have been involved in car accidents feel like they are to blame for the crash but there is a big difference between assuming fault and actually being found legally liable for the accident. 

Being involved in a car accident can be traumatic and confusing. In the heat of the moment, it can be challenging to know what exactly caused the accident, particularly if you were seriously injured. When an accident occurs, the natural human reaction is to apologize, but if you say “I’m sorry” or admit fault in any way, the other party could use that statement against you as a defense during the claims process or in court. 

Even if you’re just trying to be polite, it’s best not to assume any liability until your case has been independently investigated. 

What If I Was Partly Liable for an Accident?

If you are found to be partly liable for an accident in New York, you are still entitled to recover compensation under New York’s comparative fault rule. New York is a pure comparative fault state, which means that even if you were 99 percent at fault for an accident, you could still pursue a claim. 

During legal proceedings, a jury will hear cases from both the plaintiff and the defendant, and then decide what percentage of fault to assign to each party. Here’s an example of how this works in practice: say you are found to be 30 percent at fault for an accident, while the other party is found to be 70 percent liable. In that case, your total damages would be reduced by 30 percent, in accordance with your percentage of fault. You would still be able to recover up to 70 percent of your total losses. 

What If Both Parties Are Equally At-Fault?

Shared fault is actually more common than you might think. If both parties are found to have equal blame for an accident, they can each still pursue a claim for 50 percent of their total damages. In other states with comparative fault laws, car accident victims are barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be 50 percent at fault or higher. However, because of New York’s pure comparative fault model, both parties can still bring a claim when fault is evenly split. Your damages would simply be reduced by 50 percent. 

What Damages Can I Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Through your PIP policy, you can seek coverage for your medical expenses (such as hospital stays, surgeries, scans and tests, prescription medications, emergency services, and rehabilitative care) and lost income if you had to take time off work while you were treating your injuries. 

However, if you were seriously injured and qualify to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist, you could obtain additional compensation, including non-financial damages, such as: 

  • Pain and suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages, in some cases

While calculating your financial losses essentially requires you to total up your expenses, assigning a monetary value to your non-financial damages can be difficult without an attorney’s help. A skilled New York car accident attorney can help you determine the value of your claim and demand the appropriate amount, that way you don’t end up with hefty out-of-pocket expenses. 

Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. Today

Were you seriously injured in a car accident in New York? If so, contact the New York personal injury lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. to discuss your case. Even if you believe you may have contributed to the accident, you could still be entitled to recover compensation under New York’s pure comparative fault statute. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation. 


  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.