What Is Article 16 In A Personal Injury Case?

Most cases involving personal injury involve two parties. The plaintiff in a lawsuit is the injured party, while the defendant is the party who caused the injury. The plaintiff seeks compensation from the defendant for injuries and damages.

What is Article 16?

Article 16 of New York Consolidated Laws Civil Practice Laws & Rules (CPLR). In a personal injury case, CPLR 1601 explains the law regarding the limited liability of persons who are jointly liable for damages.

Prior to the enactment of Article 16 in 1966, any party responsible for causing an accident could be held liable for the total amount of damages caused by the accident. In other words, if three parties were responsible for causing an injury, any one of them could be held fully liable for the damages.

However, pursuant to Article 16, any party whose share of fault for the accident is less than fifty percent may limit their damages. Their damages are proportional to their degree of fault. In other words, if a party is 30% at fault for causing an accident, that party is only required to pay 30% of the damages.

If a party is at least 50 percent responsible for the accident, the plaintiff may seek full compensation for all damages from that party.

Article 16 is not applicable to wrongful death cases. Also excluded are claims for property damage.

Article 16 Only Applies to Noneconomic Damages

Article 16 applies to non-economic damages in cases involving personal injury. Noneconomic damages refer to the “pain and suffering” a victim of an accident or injury endures.

In Article 16, non-economic loss is defined as:

  • distress and suffering
  • Mental suffering
  • Loss of alliance
  • Other compensation for non-monetary loss

In the majority of cases involving personal injury, noneconomic loss also includes scarring, disfigurement, loss of life enjoyment, emotional distress, disability, and permanent impairment.

Article 16 Does Not Apply to Financial Damages

When multiple parties are involved in a claim for personal injury, all parties are jointly and severally liable for damages. In a personal injury lawsuit, financial damages may include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earnings
  • Personal care
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Travel expenses

A plaintiff can recover all financial losses in a personal injury claim against any defendant. For example, if a dog owner and property owner share liability for a dog bite claim, the victim may recover damages from either defendant.

The defendants may file claims against each other to recover a portion of the damages proportional to their degree of fault.

What Happens When the Plaintiff is Partially at Fault?

In some personal injury cases, the plaintiff may bear some responsibility for the accident. A motorcyclist may have been speeding at the time of the accident, for instance. A jury could determine that the motorcyclist was partially responsible for the collision.

If so, another section of the CPLR governs the allocation of damages between the parties.

Under CPLR 1411, the plaintiff’s damages may be reduced by the proportion of fault attributable to the plaintiff for causing the accident. This concept is referred to as comparative fault.

For example, if the jury determines that the motorcyclist is 20% at fault for the accident, the rider’s compensation is reduced by 20%.

The state of New York adopted a comparative fault standard. Under this standard, the plaintiff’s percentage of fault is unrestricted. Even if a plaintiff is 99 percent responsible for his or her injury, he or she may still recover one percent of the damages from the defendants.

Dividing Fault in Personal Injury Cases

Article 16 or comparative fault is frequently utilised by insurance companies to avoid liability or claims. When there are multiple parties involved in a case, or when the at-fault party attempts to blame the victim for causing the accident, it is generally prudent to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm

Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.

Abrams Law Group
104-70 Queens Boulevard, Suite 502
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 997-9797

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