Shared Fault or Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases in Pennsylvania
In a personal injury claim, there may be some dispute about who was at fault for an accident. For example, when you file an injury claim against a person or business, the defendant may argue that you were fully or partially to blame for the accident that led to your injury.
If the opposing party successfully demonstrates that you did share at least some fault for the accident, it could affect the compensation you can recover from your claim.
Here’s a brief overview of the comparative negligence rules for personal injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania.
Modified comparative negligence rules
Pennsylvania uses what’s known as a “modified comparative negligence rule” in personal injury claims. Under this rule, the compensation you are entitled to receive is reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. Further, plaintiffs found more than 50 percent at fault for an accident cannot collect damages from another party.
For example, consider the case of a driver making a left turn who failed to yield to you when you had the right of way to pass through an intersection. However, you were speeding at the time. In this scenario, the bulk of the fault would likely be on the driver who failed to yield, but you may share some of the blame because you were speeding. If a jury decides you were 20 percent to blame and the other driver was 80 percent at fault, and the total damages in the case add up to $10,000, you would be entitled to receive $8,000 in damages. You would forfeit the other 20 percent of damages due to the finding that you were 20 percent at fault.
Pennsylvania courts must follow this rule in any personal injury lawsuit that goes to trial. You can also expect the state’s modified comparative negligence rules to come up during settlement negotiations with insurance providers. So it is important to be familiar with these rules and how they could affect your claim.