Damages in a New York Car Crash Claim

In the Empire State, driver error causes about 95 percent of all car crashes. If this error was also a lack of ordinary care, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may be liable for damages. Distracted driving is a good example. Rolling down the window and adjusting the air conditioner are technically distracted driving. But most jurors would not consider these things to be a lack of ordinary care.

Victim/plaintiffs may also establish negligence if the tortfeasor violated a safety law. In fact, in these situations, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. 

A New York personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases, as outlined below.


What Causes Car Crashes?

There are basically three types of negligence in car crash claims. The type of negligence often is relevant to the number of damages a jury awards. Other facts in the case, as well as any insurance company defenses, may affect this outcome as well. The three types of negligence are:

  • Environmental: When the skies are dark, the streets are wet, or conditions are less than ideal, the duty of reasonable care requires drivers to slow down and be more careful. But many do not do so.
  • Operational: This category is probably the largest one. It includes things like tailgating, speeding, and illegal turns. If police issue the tortfeasor a citation, the tortfeasor is usually automatically liable for damages. In other cases, the aforementioned duty of reasonable care usually applies.
  • Behavioral: People who have been drinking, using drugs, have chronic medical conditions, and so on know they should not drive. But they do so anyway, and therefore put other people at risk.

An attorney does more than obtain compensation in these cases. Attorneys also connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance. Attorneys also make provisions for immediate vehicle replacement and alternative transportation if necessary.


Calculating Damages in a Car Crash Claim

Before settlement negotiations begin, a lawyer must properly value the case. Economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages, are rather easy to calculate. Noneconomic damages, however, are a different matter. This category includes things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.

To determine noneconomic damages, most attorneys multiply the economic damages by two, three, or four. The resulting figure serves as a starting point for settlement negotiations.

Insurance company defenses are even more relevant in this area. Defenses like contributory negligence increase the risk of a trial and therefore reduce the claim’s settlement value.

Contributory negligence shifts blame for the crash from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit the tortfeasor was intoxicated, but claim the crash would not have happened if the victim did not make an illegal lane change. In these cases, the jury must divide liability on a percentage basis.

New York is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the tortfeasor was only one percent responsible for the crash, the victim is still entitled to a proportional share of damages.


Contact an Aggressive NYC Attorney

Car crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. Home and hospital visits are available.