As you pursue your personal injury lawsuit, you’re going to spend a lot of time gathering evidence to show that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident and thus, your injuries. You’ll also work to develop a strategy to show the full extent of your economic and non-economic injuries so that you’re better positioned to recover the compensation that you need and deserve.
But while you’re doing all of that, the defense is developing their arguments, too. While some of their strategy may be focused on deflecting or minimizing the evidence that you plan on presenting, they’re probably also looking for ways to argue that you’re to blame for the wreck.
Pennsylvania’s law on comparative negligence
Pennsylvania recognizes comparative negligence, often referred to as comparative fault. Under this law, a compensatory award that you receive through a personal injury lawsuit can be reduced by the amount of fault that the judge or jury assigns to you based on the evidence presented. When effectively argued, comparative fault can be a massively successful defense, blocking you from receiving what you hoped from your claim.
How to protect yourself from comparative fault arguments
Given the effectiveness of this defense, you need to be prepared to counter it in your case. To best protect your interests, you may want to consider doing each of the following:
- Be honest about your driving actions at the time of the accident: If you want to be able to pinpoint the arguments that are going to be raised by the defense, you should be honest with yourself about the events that led to the accident. Try to identify any mistakes that you may have made or any actions that may be perceived as contributing to the accident so that you can better assess how to minimize them.
- Think about an accident reconstruction: If the facts surrounding your accident are in dispute, you might want to have an accident reconstruction conducted. Here, an expert who understands the laws of physics and how they apply to car wrecks can analyze the evidence at hand to determine causation and fault. The expert who conducts this reconstruction will generate a report with an opinion that you can then use in court.
- Focus on the comparative aspect of comparative fault: Remember, even if you’re partially to blame for the accident, it’s supposed to be a comparative analysis. Therefore, you can focus your arguments on minimizing the amount of fault that is allocated to you. To effectively do this, you need to understand how your actions and the actions of the other driver may have led to the wreck, then put the evidence in perspective.
- Attack witness credibility: The defense is probably going to have witnesses, maybe even an expert, to help show that you’re partially to blame for the accident. You may be able to minimize the impact of that testimony, though, if you can find ways to attack their credibility. You may be able to do this by drawing credentials into question or raising doubt as to what they actually observed and how they perceived the events in question.
Build the comprehensive legal claim you need to succeed
If you want to maximize your chances of recovering the compensation that you deserve, you need to know how to build compelling legal arguments while still defending yourself. Fortunately, you can gain assistance in building your arguments by securing help from an experienced legal professional.