Here in New York we have a comparative fault rule, which means that each person’s fault is considered (or compared) when you are in a car crash. A collision can be entirely the fault of one driver or fault can be split between the involved drivers.

Each person’s actions in the moments that lead up to the crash are considered; the speed of their car, where they were looking, whether they saw the other vehicle before the collision, whether they obeyed the traffic rules, whether they were on a cell phone, looking at a GPS system or simply not paying attention. 

Determining Fault for a Car Accident In addition to the human factors, there are other considerations including weather (rain, snow, fog), lighting (sunlight, sun glare, darkness) and roadway conditions.  Every crash is looked at individually, with consideration of all of these factors and more to determine fault.

In each collision there is 100% of fault to be split between the involved people.  It’s a simple idea. It can be 100% the responsibility of one person, a 50%/50% split, or anywhere in between. 

How that percentage is determined comes down to the basic facts of the accident and the underlying theories of fault run according to the rules of the road. Those rules are set out in our Vehicle and Traffic Law.

There are several common liability scenarios that we see here at the firm:

  • Rear End: Almost all rear end accidents (meaning you are struck from behind) are the fault of the car that strikes from behind.
  • Stop Sign: Where the other vehicle has failed to stop at a stop sign, or even if they stopped and then inched forward, where the person with the stop sign enters the intersection when it is unsafe to do so, they have the majority of the responsibility.
  • Left Turn: If the other car makes a left hand turn in front of you as you are trying to pass an intersection, they should have waited for you to clear the intersection and are on the hook.
  • Pedestrian Knockdown: Pedestrians are entitled to extra protections on our roads. Vehicles must yield to all pedestrians who are within a crosswalk and pedestrian cases usually don’t end well for the pedestrian.  Thankfully these scenarios generally are the responsibility of the driver.
  • Exiting Parking Lot/Parking Spot: The person coming out of a parking lot or a parking spot is required to yield to those traveling on the roadway; they are generally at fault.
  • “Dooring”: Bicyclists have become more prevalent, and an increasingly common situation is where a person opens their car door directly in the path of a bicycle. We’ve come to call these “dooring” cases, and the person who has opened the door directly in the path of the bicyclist is responsible.

In any case with these facts there is a chance that a Judge will determine that the crash is

100% the fault of the other party.  Each case is different, and it usually comes down to whether the other driver has some kind of valid excuse, but we have been successful in having these types of cases determined in our clients’ favor.