The COVID-19 pandemic has left many families and businesses scrambling for monetary support. Attempting to make money and to return to normalcy, restaurants in New York and other cities across the country have been allowed to continue operations outdoors under certain parameters. This has caused safety issues around the city, as many incidents have been reported involving surrounding traffic and outdoor restaurants.
There are at least four reported incidents involving vehicles and the modified restaurant areas with the possibility of more unreported accidents. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, state officials are slowly allowing restaurants to utilize outdoor arrangements to serve meals, as researchers are finding coronavirus transmissions more prevalent in indoor areas. Restaurants can now use surrounding areas, such as sidewalks and parking lots, as dining areas for patrons. There are a few safety guidelines for these businesses; expanded areas must be a certain distance away from walkways, intersections, and roadways.
Unfortunately, some of these pop-up seating areas are close to once heavily congested areas. Other businesses are beginning to open as well, so commuters before the pandemic are unaccustomed to see their familiar surroundings now filled with seating areas and diners. City traffic experts believe this may be the cause of recent car accidents and expect to see more as coronavirus restrictions begin to lift and more communities adjust to new parameters.
How is Liability Determined in New York?
The newly constructed dining areas may surprise some drivers as the city opens, but the state’s traffic laws still apply. New York is a no-fault car insurance state, meaning that regardless of who is at fault for an accident, each party affected must look to their own insurance companies for compensation for medical and property losses. The state’s statute of limitations applies as well, as a car accident victim has three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the statute of limitations passes, then the case would most likely be dismissed.
If an accident does not meet certain conditions, then the no-fault laws would apply. If these conditions are met, such as a severe injury, then the injured party may seek compensation from the negligent party. Unless the negligent party is undeniably at fault for the damages or injuries, then the case would fall under a pure comparative fault guideline.
What is Pure Comparative Fault?
In pure comparative fault cases, both parties are determined to be at fault for the accident. A jury would determine the amount of damages and the liability of each party.
In New York, the injured party will still receive compensation, even if they are found to be more than 50 percent at fault. The percentage of fault the plaintiff is found to be is then subtracted from the previously determined amount of damages. For example, if the total amount of damages is found to be $10,000, but the plaintiff is found to be 25 percent responsible for the accident, then they are rewarded 75 percent of that $10,000.
Should I Retain a Lawyer for a Car Accident Case During the Pandemic?
It is important to keep in mind that New York car accident laws still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may be confusing to determine who is at fault if someone is injured by an errant driver. It is highly recommended to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable and skillful car accident lawyer after a car accident happens.
Brooklyn Car Accident Lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano Protect Clients Injured by Negligent Drivers During the Pandemic
Experiencing a car accident during this unprecedented time is overwhelming. If you were injured by a negligent driver, then contact one of our Brooklyn car accident lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano immediately. Our experienced lawyers help clients get the maximum amount of compensation that they deserve. Call us today at 718-332-7766 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York, as well as Hillsborough, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Kings County and Richmond County, including Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan.