You may have heard the term “Article 16” used in discussion of a civil legal case. This specifically refers to Article 16 of the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules.
A personal injury case—when one party pursues legal action after being harmed by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party—may be impacted by the terms of Article 16.
Let’s look at exactly what Article 16 is in a personal injury action. If you have questions related to your case, the experienced personal injury attorneys of Thomas Law Offices can help. Our firm represents clients filing injury claims after suffering harm caused by others. We have nationwide experience and are highly educated and practiced in the varying laws that govern civil cases in different states across the country.
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What Is Article 16?
Article 16, part of New York state’s Civil Practice Law & Rules (CPLR), discusses Limited Liability of Persons Jointly Liable. It was added to the CPLR in 1966.
The addition of this section was an important moment in the state’s legal history. This is because it addressed in clear terms what happens when more than one party is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Most people think of personal injury cases as involving two parties: the plaintiff (the injured party) and the defendant (the party being accused of causing the injury). But many cases involve multiple defendants, and Article 16 governs those situations.
How Does Article 16 Affect a Personal Injury Case?
Before Article 16 was added, New York civil law did not have the means to effectively handle personal injury cases involving more than one liable party. So any one party found to be at fault could be made to pay the full amount of compensation owed to the injured victim—even if there were other involved parties who contributed to causing the incident.
Under the terms of Article 16, however, liability can be divided between multiple parties. If a judge and jury find more than one party to be responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, a percentage of fault can be assigned to each, and the amount they must pay to the victim will align with their assigned percentage.
Article 16 stipulates that:
- If a party is 50% or more liable, the plaintiff can seek full compensation from them.
- If a party is less than 50% liable, they can only be required to pay damages in the amount of their percentage of fault.
So, for example, a victim of medical malpractice may pursue a personal injury action against their care team, which involves multiple doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.
A physician or other care provider may be found to be mostly (more than half) at fault for all the losses the patient suffered. The injured plaintiff has the right to seek maximum compensation for the full extent damages from that party.
But there may also be lesser-involved aides, technicians, nurses, or assistants who partially (but not chiefly) contributed to the injury incident. If one of these parties is determined to be 20% at fault, for example, they may be required to pay 20% of the compensation owed to the victim.
Does Article 16 Cover All Kinds of Damages?
No, Article 16 does not cover all types of damages. There are limitations on how Article 16 applies in a personal injury action. Primarily, Article 16 does not cover economic damages such as hospital bills, lost wages, or out-of-pocket expenses.
Instead, Article 16 applies to noneconomic damages. While economic damages usually come from tangible bills, noneconomic damages are the losses stemming from non-financial causes. They often include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Lowered quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reputational damage
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disability
These and other noneconomic damages are covered under Article 16. Economic damages are not. Additionally, Article 16 does not apply to property damage claims or cases involving wrongful death.
Can the Plaintiff Also Be Partially at Fault?
Yes, the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules and statutes in many other states recognize that a plaintiff may have in some way contributed to their own injuries. This legal theory is known as “comparative negligence” or “comparative fault.” It means that fault can be shared between the defendant(s) and the person filing the legal claim.
You will need to consult with your personal injury attorney to see if comparative fault laws apply in the state where you are filing your claim or lawsuit. Some states only allow you to file a claim if you are less than 50% at fault for your own injuries.
Many states with comparative fault laws divide or reduce compensation by percentage of fault. For example, in these states, if you are found to be 10% liable for the incident that caused your injuries, your compensation amount will be reduced accordingly by 10%.
Get Qualified, Experienced Legal Help With Your Personal Injury Case
One thing we know for sure is that personal injury laws are complicated. Legislation is always changing, and there are often vast differences in the way civil disputes are handled from state to state.
That’s why lawyers go to school for years and practice for decades to become good at what they do—and why most injured victims know they need to look for professional help handling their case.
We have your back. If you were injured, we have the legal knowledge to get you justice. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our Chicago injury lawyers will assess your legal options with you and guide you to the outcome you’re looking for.