Woman driving while talking on the phone
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By Richard Obiol
Principal Attorney

When an accident occurs, fault matters. What if you were on the phone at the time of an accident? Does that mean you are automatically at fault for causing the crash? Liability is a complicated topic. The cause of the accident, both parties’ actions at the time of the crash, and the actions of anyone else involved in the crash are all factors that can play a role in establishing fault and the overall value of a car accident claim. 

At The Law Offices of Civardi & Orbiol, our personal injury lawyers understand that liability is never black and white. We want to help you understand how fault works in Long Island and whether being on your phone during an accident makes you automatically to blame for a car crash. 

New York’s No-Fault Car Insurance System 

New York is one of only a few states that follows a no-fault car insurance system. Within a no-fault system, when you are involved in an accident, you file a claim with your own insurance provider regardless of who is to blame for causing the crash. Personal injury protection or PIP coverage from your provider helps cover your medical expenses and some other losses from the collision. 

In a no-fault system, on the outside, it appears that fault for causing the crash does not enter the picture because if you were on the phone at the time of an accident and were at fault for causing a collision, your insurer is still responsible for compensating you for your medical expenses and wage losses up to the limits of your PIP coverage. However, things get complicated when your injuries are significant, and you seek to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. 

New York subscribes to the pure comparative fault rule. Under this rule, the compensation a person can get after a crash is diminished by their percentage of fault for the accident. Did your being on the phone directly cause the crash? If the court determines your actions were 90 percent responsible for causing a collision, you are on the hook for 90 percent of the other driver’s losses. Yet, you can also recover ten percent of your total compensable losses from the other driver. 

The pure comparative fault rule binds court decisions, but it also guides how an insurance adjuster may value your claim.  

Maybe being on the phone was not the most significant factor that caused the accident. No matter the circumstances, your chances of a favorable outcome are greater when you secure the help of a knowledgeable Long Island personal injury attorney. 

New York Cell Phone Rules 

Does being on your phone at the time of an accident automatically mean you are at fault for causing a crash? No. Numerous factors go into determining fault for an accident. Getting to the bottom of who can be held liable for an accident takes a complete investigation into the cause of the crash, something that an experienced attorney has the time and resources to conduct on your behalf. 

Remember, while you may not automatically be 100 percent responsible for the circumstances that caused the crash, you may still face penalties for violating the law. It is illegal for New York motorists to use any handheld cell phone or electronic device while driving. A first offense can result in fines and points being added to your driving record.  

Contact a Skilled New York Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

Fault is not assigned automatically. The unique circumstances of your situation can make a dramatic difference. After a car accident, you must consult an experienced car accident attorney to protect your rights, help you avoid liability, and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Contact The Law Offices of Civardi & Obiol today for a free legal consultation. It’s the first step in resolving your claim as favorably as possible. 

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