No one sees a car wreck coming. Unfortunately, thousands of accidents happen on U.S. roads every day. If you are involved in a car accident, one of your most immediate concerns is who is at fault. Accident laws in Pennsylvania can be confusing.
If you are involved in a car accident that is not your fault, you may be eligible for financial restitution for the resulting damages – but how is fault determined during a Pennsylvanian car accident case?
From a car accident to a slip-and-fall incident or a dog attack, personal injuries come in a variety of forms. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might end up with thousands of dollars in hospital bills and lost income, among other expenses.
If you sustain injuries due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions, it helps to know that you do not have to grapple with the resulting damages on your own. Pennsylvania laws allow you to sue the liable party for economic and non-economic damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, there is more to personal injury lawsuits than simply claiming that the defendant’s conduct resulted in your injuries.
You need to understand two important statutes when filing a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s Modified Comparative Negligence Statute
Pretty much every civil lawsuit centers on the issue of negligence. This legal term describes a defendant’s breach of their duty of care towards you. To find the liable party at fault and, hence, responsible for your damages, Pennsylvania courts apply a doctrine known as modified comparative negligence.
Per modified comparative negligence, damages are reduced based on your contribution (if any) to the incident that resulted in your injuries. However, you will not receive any compensation if the court establishes that your fault was 51 percent or more. This is known as the “51% Rule.”
Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
Nearly every legal matter is constrained by a time limit known as the statute of limitations within which a defendant must file their claim. Most often, the court will deny a claim that is filed after the expiration of the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, you will generally have two years from the date of your injuries to sue an at-fault party.
Protecting Your Rights in an At-Fault Accident
If you are hurt in an accident that is not your fault (or is only partially your fault), you deserve justice. Learning more about Pennsylvania negligence laws can help you safeguard your rights and interests while pursuing compensation for resulting damages with the assistance of a legal professional.
Modified Comparative Negligence for an At-Fault Accident
When a car accident happens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a specific statute determines the circumstances that led to the accident and who acted negligently. This statute is known as modified comparative negligence.
Under modified comparative negligence laws, you can only claim damages if your contribution to the accident was less than 50%. However, your damages will be reduced in proportion to your contribution to the accident.
Example of Modified Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania
For instance, if the investigators establish that the other driver was 70 percent at fault, meaning that you were 30 percent at fault, then you will be entitled to compensation because you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. However, you will only be entitled to 70 percent of the resulting damages. In other words, if the court awards $100,000, then you will only be entitled to $70,000.
It usually comes as a surprise to most accident victims that negligence is assigned by the insurance adjusters rather than the courts or law enforcement. A police report may be helpful when understanding how the accident happened, but that doesn’t mean the insurance company will agree. As such, you may find claiming compensation difficult.
What to do if You’re Injured in an Accident, Even if You’re Found At Fault
Being involved in a car accident can be traumatizing, to say the least. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and interests while pursuing damages. Our Easton car accident attorneys can provide a free consultation.