Comparative Negligence: The Impact on Personal Injury Claims

Comparative negligence

Accidents are unfortunate occurrences. Injuries from T-bone collisions, medical malpractice, occupational accidents, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), etc., can happen to anyone at any time. These incidents often leave a trail of physical, psychological, and financial damage that can take years to resolve. As you recover from related injuries, you may be entangled in a legal predicament or burdened by mounting medical bills. 

Fortunately, the introduction of comparative negligence legislation in Pennsylvania has profoundly influenced personal injury lawsuits, as it acts to safeguard your rights to pursue equitable compensation. Read on to find out the far-reaching implications of comparative negligence law on personal injury claims.

The Basics of Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence Law

In personal injury cases, comparative negligence law seeks to determine the degree of fault for each party involved in an accident. Pennsylvania follows a 51% comparative negligence rule, which is applied when determining compensation for car accidents to ensure an impartial liability distribution among the at-fault parties. The law recognizes that more than one party may contribute to an accident and assigns a percentage of fault to everyone involved based on their degree of negligence.

Provided your percentage of culpability does not exceed 50%, you may be compensated for injuries and damages. However, the final payment awarded to an injured party is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if the law determines that an injured party is 40% to blame for the collision, their compensation will be reduced by the same percentage.

Even so, they are still entitled to receive the remaining 60% of damages caused by the other party. Comparative negligence laws promote fairness in determining reimbursement by considering the actions or negligence of all parties involved in an accident. It recognizes that accidents are often the result of multiple factors, and holding one party solely responsible may not accurately reflect the circumstances.

This law has shifted the dynamics of personal injury claims. It emphasizes the importance of gathering exculpatory evidence and presenting a solid case to prove the at-fault party’s negligence. Also, insurance adjusters and defense lawyers may try to attribute a higher percentage of fault to you to minimize their client’s liability. This is where the expertise of personal injury attorneys becomes invaluable. They understand the intricacies of comparative negligence law and can skillfully negotiate on your behalf to ensure the at-fault party is punished and you receive what you are rightfully owed.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim: What to Do Following an Accident

A personal injury claim typically arises when an individual is harmed or their property is damaged whenever the at-fault party fails to exercise reasonable care. Broken bones or brain injury from a slip and fall accident, including psychological harm, such as emotional distress or trauma, are examples of what constitutes personal injuries.

To establish elements of negligence or liability in such cases, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused subsequent harm. That said, when pursuing a personal injury case under comparative negligence, you must follow specific steps to strengthen your claim.

  • Seek immediate medical attention and document your injuries. This establishes a clear link between the accident and your injuries.
  • Gather accident reports, witness statements, photographs, and surveillance footage to provide compelling support for your lawsuit. Knowledgeable attorneys can avail every resource in their arsenal to conduct thorough investigations, collect crucial evidence, and build a robust legal strategy.

During the legal process, your assigned percentage of fault will significantly impact your compensation. Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law follows the “modified joint and several liability” rule. This means that each party involved is responsible for their assigned percentage of fault. Skilled attorneys will meticulously analyze the details of your case, assess liability, and diligently advocate for your rights. They will strive to establish the other party’s primary responsibility and work toward minimizing your assigned fault percentage for fair compensation.

The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Over Self-Representation

A personal injury litigation process can challenge even the best of us without professional guidance, especially under the comparative negligence law. Some people choose to represent themselves in an effort to save money, but this can be to their detriment. Without expert legal representation, individuals lack access to valuable resources and may not accurately assess the full extent of their claim—this can mean missed opportunities and reduced compensation.

Lawyers with an in-depth knowledge of personal injury laws, precedents, and court procedures provide invaluable, accurate advice and expert representation. They are well-versed in how insurance companies operate, intending to decrease the amount of compensation they have to pay claimants. Insurers employ various tactics like delaying the claims process, disputing liability, undervaluing injuries, or pressuring plaintiffs to accept low settlement offers.

Personal injury lawyers have the skills to dispute these schemes and fight for their clients’ just compensation. They will leverage their expertise in negotiating with insurance adjusters to protect your rights to fair damages for your injuries, hospital bills, diminished earning capacity, pain, and suffering. Having a dedicated legal advocate by your side sends a powerful message to the opposing party, demonstrating your commitment to pursuing justice.

Contact an Expert Pennsylvania Attorney at RGSG for Legal Representation

If you have been injured in an accident or a loved one is facing a personal injury case, Pennsylvania-based Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., has a team of seasoned personal injury lawyers and the resources to fight for your rights.

Our ability to navigate comparative negligence cases allows us to offer the legal support you need during this challenging time as we work toward a favorable resolution. Do not let the intricacies of comparative negligence law deter you from seeking the justice you deserve. Schedule a no-obligation consultation and case assessment by calling us at (215) 822-7575 or filling out our contact form today.