The victim of a motor vehicle accident often suffers physical injuries, psychological trauma, and financial hardship as a result of the collision. Despite the fact that we commonly refer to collisions as “accidents,” most are actually the result of negligence, or fault, on the part of at least one involved party. If you were injured in a collision that was caused by another party, that party would likely be required to compensate you for all your injuries. What happens, however, if you were partially at fault? The answer can be found in Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws.
Understanding Negligence – When Is Another Party Liable for Your Injuries?
“Negligence” is the legal term used to refer to fault, or blame, in a personal injury accident. For another party to be found negligent, and therefore liable for your injuries, you must be able to prove the following four elements:
- Duty of care – the party must have owed you a legal duty of care to do everything reasonably possible to prevent harm from occurring to you. Long ago, courts determined that the driver of a vehicle on a public roadway owes a duty of care to others with whom he shares the roadway. Consequently, this element is usually easy to prove in a collision.
- Breach of the duty of care – you must show that the party breached the legal duty of care by doing something such as texting while driving, driving under the influence, or speeding.
- Causation – the breach of the duty of care must have caused, or contributed to, the collision.
- Damages – you must have been injured as a result of the collision.
Comparative Negligence – What Happens When the Victim Was Also at Fault?
A car accident may be caused by a complex chain of events instead of a single driver’s negligence. When that is the case, a victim may share some of the blame (negligence) for the collision. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the doctrine of comparative negligence is used when the negligence of more than one party caused an accident. Comparative negligence apportions the fault among the negligent parties. A victim may still recover damages as long as the victim was less than 50 percent at fault. The amount of compensation you are entitled to as a victim is adjusted accordingly.
By way of illustration, imagine that you are involved in a collision with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was texting while driving; however, you also failed to signal a lane change. Ultimately, it is determined that the other driver’s negligence was 80 percent to blame for the collision and you were 20 percent at fault. Your damages total $100,000; however, that figure is reduced by 20 percent ($20,000) to account for your own negligence. Therefore, the other driver would be required to pay you the remaining $80,000.
If you were injured in a car accident in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, or you are a surviving family member of someone who was fatally injured in one, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. today to schedule your FREE initial consultation. We can be reached by filling out our convenient online form or by calling 717-394-3004.