How Comparative Negligence Works in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's negligence laws detail the requirements an accident victim must meet before he can collect a settlement for his injuries. Under comparative negligence, an insurer can limit your recovery if it finds you to be partially at fault for the accident.
Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence LawsThe majority of the states in the U.S. follow a comparative negligence model for liability, Pennsylvania included. Pennsylvania follows a modified version of comparative negligence known as the 51 percent bar rule. This rule states that a person cannot recover damages if an investigation finds him to be 51 percent or more at fault for the accident in which he sustained injuries.
Why Your Degree of Fault MattersThe higher the degree of fault, the more the insurer will reduce your settlement amount. For example, if an investigation finds that you were 20 percent at fault, you will only be able to collect 80 percent of your settlement. If the investigation found that you were 60 percent at fault, you will not be eligible to collect a settlement at all due to the modified comparative negligence laws in Pennsylvania.
How to Prove the Other Driver's Degree of FaultYou will need to provide evidence that shows your behaviors were not as negligent as the other person's involved in your accident, e.g., you were driving three miles over the speed limit but the other driver clearly ran a red light.
Photographs of the accident scene can show things like tire marks or vehicle placement that identify a traffic violation by another party. In addition, witness testimony can back up your claim of negligence against another party. A police report can also be helpful, as it will include any citations officers issued against the other driver.
Challenging a Denied Settlement Due to FaultIt is possible to appeal a decision by the at-fault driver's insurance company if it finds you were more than 51 percent at fault for the accident and denies you a settlement. If this occurs, you have the right to take your injury claim to trial and have a judge or jury decide your degree of fault and potential compensation.