Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law

| Nov 17, 2017 | Personal Injury Law

Pennsylvanians who have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another may rightfully ask what they can do to recover compensation for their damages. In order to succeed on one of these claims, certain legal elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Amongst these elements are that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that duty was breached and that breach caused the victim’s compensable injuries. Yet, even those who feel that they can prove these elements may be concerned about something else: the role their own fault played in the accident.

Very few accidents are caused by just one individual. Instead, a number of injurious accidents involve the fault of many. While some may think that their fault bars their recovery of compensation from other negligent parties, this isn’t necessarily the case. Pennsylvania law recognizes what is referred to as “comparative negligence.” Under this theory of the law, an individual’s own negligence will not disallow him or her from recovering compensation from other negligent parties so long as his or her portion of fault is not greater than the party against whom the lawsuit is being filed.

Of course, the potential recovery will be decreased in accordance with the plaintiff’s portion of fault. Therefore, a plaintiff who is found to be 30 percent at fault will only recover $7,000 of a $10,000 judgment. Although this may seem like a significant loss, the fact remains that this plaintiff, even though he or she contributed to the accident and his or her own injuries, can still recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other losses.

So, what does this mean for Pennsylvanians who have been injured in an accident? It means that they not only have to be prepared to prove that a defendant was negligent, but they also must try to minimize their part in the incident in question. This can be a challenging task but one that most qualified personal injury attorneys are well-suited to handle.

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