Tackling Your Legal Needs
Gieg & Jancula, LLC - Office
Gieg & Jancula, LLC - Office
  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Personal injury
  4.  » How comparative negligence works in auto accidents

How comparative negligence works in auto accidents

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Personal injury

When a car accident happens in Pennsylvania, figuring out who is at fault can be like solving a puzzle. Sometimes, it is clear who caused the accident. Other times, both drivers might seem to share the blame.

This is where comparative negligence comes into play. It is a rule many states use for sorting out how much each person in an accident has to pay or will receive in damages.

How comparative negligence works

With comparative negligence, the court or an insurer assigns a percentage of fault to each party. In general, injured parties can recover compensation as long as they do not have a specific amount of fault for the accident.

In Pennsylvania, a driver who is more than 50% at fault cannot get money for damages. However, anyone who is 50% or less at fault can still get some money. The figure will just be less depending on how much of the accident was that person’s fault.

An example of how fault impacts compensation

As an example, suppose two drivers get into an accident. The court may decide that Driver A is 30% at fault and Driver B is 70% at fault. Driver A can get money for damages, but the court will reduce the amount by 30%. Therefore, if Driver A had $10,000 worth of damages, that person would only get $7,000.

Insurance settlements work on the same principle. Instead of going to trial to have the court decide the matter, the claimant can negotiate with the insurance company about the facts of the case and determine what percentage of fault each party had in the accident. The insurer will reduce the payout by the injured driver’s percentage of fault.

Comparative negligence vs. other statutes

In some places, someone who is even a little bit at fault cannot get any money for damages. This is the “contributory negligence” standard, which is much stricter than comparative negligence.

Many people consider comparative negligence to be a fairer standard because it looks at the accident in detail and assigns the blame and apportions money according to each person’s actions. It makes sure that people pay or receive money in a way that matches how much they were at fault in the accident.

However, a claimant still has to act quickly to get fair compensation. The injured person will want to get any evidence before it degrades, as well as avoid missing the time limit for filing an injury claim. By doing so, the person can improve the odds of getting a fair settlement.