After an accident, defining who is “at-fault” can become more complicated than people may realize. Just because a person caused an accident does not necessarily mean that he or she is 100 percent at-fault for another’s injuries. In the state of Pennsylvania, the comparative negligence laws will take over when the fault is not so clear.
Under Statute Section 7102, a victim could still be up to 50 percent responsible for an accident and collect damages in a personal injury claim. If the individual is more than 50 percent liable, however, they cannot recover compensation. This is because the state uses the modified comparative negligence rule.
If you think that you may be partially at-fault for your accident or injuries, you can still pursue legal action. But, you will want to consult with a Pennsylvania car accident attorney first to explore your options.
Understanding Negligence in Car Accident Claims
In your car accident case, you will need to prove that the responsible party (the defendant) was negligent. This requires proving to the court that five elements were present:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached their duty through actions or lack of action.
- The defendant’s lack of action or actions was directly linked to the harm that you suffered.
- It was foreseeable that the defendant’s actions would lead to injury; therefore, it could have been prevented.
- The harm that you suffered caused damages (such as medical expenses).
While it may seem easy to prove negligence, proving such is one of the most difficult aspects of filing a car accident claim. Also, when the plaintiff is partially at-fault, the defense team will use that to help establish that the plaintiff was more than 50 percent liable; thus, stopping their right to compensation. This is why it is imperative that victims seek legal counsel right away, if they suspect that they are even slightly at-fault for their own injuries or the accident.
Consider the following example: You were injured in an accident. The defendant was 70 percent liable for the accident, and you were considered to be 30 percent liable. This was because while you did not cause the accident, you didn’t wear a seatbelt. Therefore, some of your injuries were caused by your failure to wear a safety device. In this case, your settlement would be reduced by your at-fault percentage. So, if you were awarded $100,000, your settlement would be reduced by 30 percent (that is, your at-fault percentage) or $30,000 – leaving you with $70,000 in rewarded compensation.
Comparative Negligence Cases Often Go to Court
When both parties had a hand in the accident or injuries, it is more likely that the case will go to trial than be settled out of court. Your attorney will be charged with the task of proving that the defendant was more at-fault for the accident. Then, based on the evidence, the jury or judge will allocate a percentage of fault to each negligent party.
Consult with a Scranton Car Accident Attorney
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, now is the time to contact a Pennsylvania attorney. The team at The Slocum Firm, P.C. is here to assist you with your claim. We understand how difficult it can be to recover from an accident – and even more so when the defense is trying to place the blame on you. Let our team work as your advocates to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Get started with a free consultation at 888-367-4577 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.