ClickCease Navigating Fault In New York Car Accidents: A Guide

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A Guide To Navigating Fault In New York Car Accidents

Seth Harris

Last modified on January 10, 2024

Navigating Fault in New York Car Accidents_ A Comprehensive Guide

After sustaining injuries in a New York car accident that someone else caused, you might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of dealing with insurance companies and legal hurdles. Unfortunately, you can’t ignore these tasks, as establishing fault is a critical step in asserting your rights and securing fair compensation. The good news is that the team at Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb can navigate these challenges with you. The guide explains everything you need to know about determining fault after a car accident in New York, why it’s so important, and how we can help.

What Does “Fault” Mean in a New York Car Accident Claim?

Before going any further, it’s worth taking a moment to explain what we mean when we talk about “fault” in a car accident claim. In a New York car accident claim, “fault” is all about figuring out who caused the accident. This matters because the person who was at fault is usually responsible for covering some of the expenses—like medical bills or car repairs—of those they hurt. (The New York no-fault insurance system can complicate this process, but we’ll get to that shortly.)

Why Does Fault Matter When New York Has No-Fault Auto Insurance?

New York is one of a handful of states that uses a “no-fault” auto insurance system for accidents. Under state law, all New York auto insurance policies must include $50,000 per person in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage is available to the policyholder driver and their passengers, regardless of who caused a crash, which helps injured drivers meet their immediate medical and financial needs.

While $50,000 in no-fault coverage sounds like a lot in theory, in practice, it’s often not enough to cover an injured driver’s needs. For example, PIP coverage only covers up to 80 percent of your lost wages after a crash, and even then, only up to $2,000 a month. Additionally, medical bills after a severe car accident can quickly exceed $50,000, leaving drivers without the means to pay these expenses.

Working Around the No-Fault Insurance System in New York

Fortunately, injured drivers whose losses exceed $50,000 still have options to recover additional compensation. If your medical bills exceed your no-fault coverage or you meet the serious injury threshold in New York car accidents, you can step outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury claim against the other driver (or another party who caused the crash). State law defines “serious injuries” as:

  • Broken bones
  • Permanent loss of a bodily organ, member, system, or function
  • Severe disfigurement
  • Dismemberment
  • Any injury preventing you from performing your typical daily activities for 90 days during the first 180 days after the crash

While you can step outside the no-fault system in New York under some circumstances, doing so requires you to prove that the other driver caused the crash. This factor is another reason why fault plays a crucial role in New York car accident claims.

How Can I Pay My Medical Bills Before I Receive My Insurance Money?

How to Recover Damages If Partially at Fault in New York

While many car accidents involve one party who bears sole responsibility for the crash, that’s not always the case. When both drivers played a role in causing a crash, comparative negligence comes into play. Comparative negligence laws in New York provide that if both drivers contributed to the crash, fault is divided according to each driver’s portion of responsibility. For example, if an insurer or court decides one driver’s percentage of fault for a crash is 25 percent, that driver would be entitled to only 75 percent of their compensable losses to account for their role in causing the accident.

How to Prove Fault in a New York Car Accident Case

two toy cars on a desk that have collided and a gavel of justice next to them

Strong evidence is the backbone of a car accident claim, as it helps to establish who caused the accident. Here are some common types of evidence used in these cases:

  • Police Reports: These documents provide an official account of the accident, including any violations of law that may indicate who was at fault.
  • Witness Statements: People who saw the accident can offer valuable insights into what happened, supporting your version of events.
  • Photos and Videos: Images from the scene can show details like road conditions, vehicle positions, and damage, offering visual proof of the accident’s impact.
  • Medical Records: These records link your injuries directly to the accident, underscoring the consequences of the other party’s actions.
  • Expert Testimony: Specialists in fields like accident reconstruction can provide professional opinions on how and why the accident occurred.
  • Traffic Camera Footage: Video from nearby traffic cameras can capture the accident as it happened, providing unbiased evidence.

Contact Our NYC Car Accident Attorneys for Help Proving Your Case

At Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb, our New York car accident lawyers have the experience and resources to meticulously collect the proof you need for your case. We know where to look and what to ask for, ensuring no valuable piece of evidence is overlooked. With our help, you can build a strong case that clearly demonstrates fault, paving the way for the justice and compensation you need to move forward. Call us today at 800-PAIN-LAW or reach out online for a free consultation.

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Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

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arien machicotearien machicote
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I must say I am extremely happy and amazed at the incredible work at Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb they were always available if I had any questions and they were always answered with very professionallyJason Steinberg is a great lawyer and I will always highly suggest this law firm and team to anyone out their. Thank you again to everyone at this incredible Firm!!!
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My experience with Harris Keenan and Goldfarb was wonderful. My legal representative, Steven LaRocca with Samantha Walton always made me feel well defended and cared for, in a way that went beyond professional representation and into the realm of caring about me on a personal level. Steven, Samantha and Seth Harris got me a great outcome and I can’t thank them enough!
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I am completely satisfied, and recommend Harris Keenan & Goldfarb as Attorneys to represent anyone. Their care for me physically, and overall helped me stay strong in spite of my injuries. Always available to answer questions, and inform.They got me Justice, and achieved a substantial outcome for my case.I am very impressed, and thankful for their outstanding performance on my behalf.I am very pleased, and significantly satisfied with their representation.‐-Sherylon Wilkins
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Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
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I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
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My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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