Comparative negligence in Pennsylvania  

Drivers on Pennsylvania’s many busy highways know that a car accident can happen in the blink of an eye, but the effects can be serious and last for a long time. After the initial shock has worn off, and any immediate injuries are treated, victims are likely to begin wondering and worrying the medical bills, and more importantly, who will pay for them.

By now, most everyone knows that that hospital and medical bills can accumulate quickly. After a car accident, the focus should be on healing and recuperating, but the reality is that the medical bills will soon start arriving, often causing unnecessary stress.

Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state. This means that you will be responsible for paying your medical bills after a car accident, unless you file a lawsuit against the other driver. You might do this if you believe they were totally or partially at fault, and they don’t have car insurance or their insurance company will not pay for your damages.

Establishing negligence

To prove fault in a lawsuit, you must establish that the other driver was negligent. All drivers on the road have a legal duty to drive safely, which means in a reasonable and prudent manner. If a driver breaches this legal duty, and that breach causes an accident that results in damages, to a person and/or a vehicle, the driver was negligent.

Pennsylvania law uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence standard. This means that the amount of money that you can collect depends on what percentage of the accident is determined to be your fault, and if your percentage of fault is 51% or more, you will not receive any compensation. A judge or a jury may make this determination.

However, if you are 50% or less at fault, you will receive compensation for your damages. Your percentage of fault is from your damage award. For example, if a judge or jury concludes that you were 30% at fault, but the other driver was 70% at fault, you will collect an award of 70% of your overall damages.

The modified comparative negligence standard can lead to a devastating outcome if it results in no award of compensation. Proving percentages of negligence can be tricky, and requires a thorough understanding of the law, and excellent attention to detail. Luckily, help is always available.