It may seem like a bit of conundrum. You admit that your actions somewhat contributed to the accident. In the meantime, you emphatically believe that you’re only partially to blame for your injuries. So, what does that mean? Can you still pursue a claim for monetary damages?
The short answer is somewhat non-committal. It depends. However, the good news is that your claim won’t be routinely dismissed just because you contributed slightly to an accident that caused you harm. Pennsylvania is not one of the states that bars recovery based on a theory of contributory negligence.
Instead, Pennsylvania law states that personal injury claims should be considered from a modified comparative negligence standpoint. This is described in Tit. 42 §7102 of the PA Code and includes the following:
- Claimant may be partially at fault and still recover damages
- Claimant’s contributory negligence must be less than that of the defendant or defendants against whom the case is brought
- Claimant’s award will be apportioned among all parties
It boils down to a couple of things. First, if you did contribute to an accident, you must be less than 51 percent at fault. Of course, you will also need to prove that one or more defendants contributed to the incident that caused you to get hurt.
During settlement or at trial, it becomes critical to apportion fault among those involved in the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney working on your behalf will negotiate your percentage of liability. When the case settles, or you are awarded damages at trial, the money you receive diminishes according to how much you are found responsible for your accident.
Consider this simple example. The insurance company agrees that your damages amount to $100,000. However, you’re found 20% liable. Therefore, the gross amount of your settlement check will only amount to $80,000.
ASSESSING BLAME FOR YOUR INJURIES
As you might guess, negotiating with insurance carriers can turn into a blame game. For example, you are driving your car and suddenly stop short. The fact that you hit the brakes suddenly gives the vehicle behind you little room to do anything. You suffer injuries when the other driver loses control and strikes you in the rear.
More than likely, the insurance company will claim you caused the rear-end collision because of your actions. However, was the other motor vehicle operator following at a safe distance? An experienced car accident attorney might be able to prove otherwise if you were seriously injured.
Comparative negligence may also play into your slip and fall case. For example, you might fall because of a hazardous condition. However, the fact that you were looking down at your phone may be a contributory factor to your accident.
When you’ve suffered any type of personal injury, you need the benefit of experienced legal advice. Contact Fellerman & Ciarimboli to schedule an appointment to see how we can assist you.