Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence in PA

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Have you been injured in a car accident or suffered a personal injury in Pennsylvania? If so, it's important to understand the state's comparative negligence laws before pursuing a legal claim for damages.

In personal injury cases, comparative negligence refers to the legal principle that assigns fault for an accident or injury between the parties involved based on their respective levels of negligence or carelessness. This means that if both parties were partially responsible for the accident, their compensation would be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.

In "pure" comparative negligence states, plaintiffs can recover compensation regardless of how much liability they are assigned. However, Pennsylvania follows what is called a modified comparative negligence rule, sometimes referred to as the 51% rule.

Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Statute

Pennsylvania's comparative negligence statute, § 7102, outlines the guidelines for determining fault and damages in cases of negligence resulting in death or injury to a person or property. The statute details the state's modified comparative negligence philosophy.

Under this rule, if a person is found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident, they can still recover damages for their injuries. However, if you are found 51% liable (or more), you may be barred from recovering compensation.

How Your Case May Be Affected By the Comparative Negligence Rule

When determining liability under the 51% rule, the court will look at the actions of all parties involved and assign a percentage of fault to each. This percentage reflects the degree of responsibility each party has for the injury or damages.

Several factors may be considered when determining a party's percentage of fault, including:

  • The party's conduct
  • Any violations of laws or regulations
  • Any actions taken that contributed to the injury

For example, in a car accident case, if the injured party was not wearing a seatbelt, the court may find that they are partially responsible for their injuries. However, if the other driver was found to be texting while driving, they may be assigned a higher percentage of fault.

Another example could be a slip and fall case where a store owner did not clean up a spill on the floor. If the injured party was walking while looking at their phone, they could be seen as partially at fault for not paying attention. However, if the spill had been present for an extended period of time, the store owner may be found to be more at fault.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Counsel

If you have been involved in a personal injury case, seeking legal counsel is paramount. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the complex legal system and ensure that your rights are protected. Attempting to handle a personal injury case alone can be incredibly overwhelming and may result in settling for less than you deserve.

Here are two primary examples of how a personal injury lawyer can be of assistance:

  1. Recovering damages: A personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injury.
  2. Negotiating with insurance companies: Personal injury cases typically involve negotiations with insurance companies. A lawyer can navigate these negotiations on your behalf and help you seek fair compensation from the insurance company.

By seeking legal counsel, you can rest assured that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your legal rights and receive the compensation you deserve. Don't hesitate to reach out to the personal injury lawyers at Golomb Legal, P.C., if you find yourself in this situation. They are here to help and can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.