Because New York operates under pure comparative negligence laws, a defendant in a lawsuit may attempt to counter a wrongful death claim by asserting that the deceased contributed to their own death.
As noted by WalletHub, if a defendant proves successful, the court may reduce the damage award by the degree the deceased was at fault. A plaintiff may not collect damages for more than the percentage that the jury finds the other party contributed to causing the accident.
In cases of motor vehicle fatalities, common contributory factors include speeding and talking or texting on a mobile device.
Assigning the percentage of fault for each party
Law enforcement officials typically conduct an investigation of accident scenes where fatalities occur. Their results may provide the court with photographs and information that serve as evidence in determining fault. A mobile device or a vehicle’s GPS tracking system may provide time and location data to help recreate the events that preceded a collision.
Surveillance cameras in the area that recorded footage during the accident may also provide proof when assigning each party’s percentage of contribution. For example, a vehicle captured swerving, hitting objects or running a red light may assign greater weight to a driver as the cause of the accident.
Awarding damages to surviving family members
A motorist’s negligence resulting in the loss of a loved one typically requires a wrongful death lawsuit to provide proper compensation to surviving family members. New York statute Section 1411, however. may allow the court to reduce the amount of a damage award by how much the deceased individual may have assumed the risk.
A compassionate jury may nonetheless aid in providing compensation for the deceased’s medical expenses and their family’s funeral costs.