Lehigh Valley: 610-435-7400

Philadelphia: 215-567-6616

Understanding How Comparative Negligence Works in Car Accident Claims

Your Guide to Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawsuits

When handling car accident lawsuits, the majority of states use a rule called comparative negligence. This law determines who is at fault in an accident and decides whether or not the plaintiff deserves money. Understanding what comparative negligence is and how it works can help you get the compensation you deserve after an accident.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

In some accidents, such as a car running a red light and t-boning another car, blame is fairly obvious. These types of accidents usually result in open and shut lawsuits. Things get trickier if both cars share the blame though. For example, consider a driver who runs a red light and hits another car that was driving without headlights at night. The first car broke a law, but they might have been able to avoid the other car if the driver had their lights on. In a few states, anyone with even a small amount of fault in a car accident cannot file a lawsuit. However, most states use some form of comparative negligence. This is a legal concept that allows states to split the blame between multiple parties, and then use the split blame to decide how much compensation each person gets. In pure comparative negligence states, the defendant only owes a percentage of damages equal to their amount of fault in the accident. Modified comparative further adjusts this rule, stating that the plaintiff can only file a lawsuit if they were less than 50% responsible for the accident. Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state, so you can sue as long as you were less than 50% at fault in a car accident.

Understanding How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Compensation

In Pennsylvania, comparative negligence is handled fairly simply. After hearing input from you and your Allentown personal injury attorney, the court decides what percentage of the fault you bear. As long as your assigned percentage is 50% or less, the court will then proceed with calculating damages. There are many things that go into considering compensation for a car accident. You might ask for damages for things like the wages you lost when you couldn't work or the money you need to make your home more handicap accessible. The court then takes your total financial damages and gives you a percentage based on your fault. For example, if an accident caused $100,000 in damages and you were 30% at fault, the court would reduce your compensation by 30%. You would end up getting $70,000 overall.

How Do Courts Assign Negligence?

Since the amount of negligence has a huge impact on your ultimate payout, most car accident lawyers spend a lot of time trying to argue their clients were less at fault. The right argument from your attorney can help to increase your amount of compensation, or it can ensure you don't get assigned more than 50% of the fault. To back up your arguments, you will need evidence. This can come in many forms. Some potential types of proof include:
  • Testimony from eyewitnesses
  • Analysis from industry experts
  • Photographs of damage
  • Medical records
  • Dashboard camera footage
If you were negligent in any way, your chance of sharing the blame might be higher. Breaking any laws, such as speeding or not using a turn signal, tend to result in a much higher share of fault. Irresponsible behavior, like not slowing down in the rain, can also lead to a higher percentage of the blame. However, if you were driving very safely and could not have done anything to prevent or avoid the accident, you are less likely to be assigned fault. Ultimately, even if you are partially at fault, it might still be worthwhile to pursue a personal injury claim. As one of the leading Lehigh Valley law firms, Metzger & Kleiner is here to help with your car accident lawsuit. If you are ready to explore your options, you can schedule a free consultation with our team of Allentown personal injury attorneys. Call 610-435-7400 now or fill out our contact form to request an appointment.

Speak Your Mind


© 2024 Metzger & Kleiner All Rights Reserved. Site Map | Disclaimer | Allentown Car Accidents | Allentown Truck Accidents