Meirowitz & Wasserberg LLP

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What “no-fault” and “contributory negligence” mean

When New York residents suffer car accident injuries, one of their first concerns is how they will pay for the damages and medical expenses. Then, dealing with insurance companies and legalities can be daunting.

Car accident laws differ by state and understanding how everything works can be confusing. But having a grasp of New York’s “no-fault” and “contributory negligence” laws is helpful for motor vehicle collision victims who wish to seek compensation.


 New York is one rare state that has no-fault laws in regards to car insurance compensation. This law means that car accident victims must first rely on their own insurance plans to get compensation for expenses such as lost income and medical bills.
However, there are certain exceptions to the no-fault rule. Victims can seek damages from the other driver’s insurance company if there are severe injuries, such as broken bones, impairments, disabilities and disfigurements. This can be done through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Contributory negligence

 New York is also unique with its comparative fault law. This statute says that victims can recover a percentage of damages appropriate to who is at fault for the collision. The victim may even be partially at fault, either by negligence or assumption of risk. For example, if a victim is not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, but a distracted driver caused the accident, there may be a division of fault for the ensuing injuries. If the victim is 20% responsible for the injuries, he or she may still pursue 80% of the damages from the other party.

Car accident victims find it helpful to understand the relevant laws so that they know how to pursue compensation.

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