If I’m partly at fault in an accident, can I recover damages?

After a serious car accident, an injured person can generally recover damages from a negligent driver who caused the crash. But what if the injured person was partly at fault? Can they still make a claim for personal injury damages? Under Pennsylvania law, the answer is yes, as long as the injured person was not more at fault than the other driver.

Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, the jury in an auto accident case is asked to apportion fault among all the potentially at-fault parties, on a percentage basis. You can recover for your injuries if you were 50 percent or less at fault, but your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you were 51 percent or more at fault you will not be able to recover any damages.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say two drivers, Driver A and Driver B, are involved in an accident. Driver A is injured and wants to sue Driver B for damages. The jury finds Driver A was 30 percent at fault and Driver B was 70 percent at fault. If Driver A’s total damages are $100,000, Driver A can recover $70,000, which is Driver A’s total damages reduced by Driver A’s 30 percent fault.

If Driver A was 60 percent at fault and Driver B was 40 percent at fault, Driver A would recover nothing because Driver A was more at fault than Driver B.

The information in this post is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice. If you were injured in an auto accident and believe you may have been partly at fault, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you evaluate your options.

Source: 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7102, accessed Dec. 27, 2014



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