If you are in a motor vehicle accident in Pennsylvania, you may be able to obtain compensation even if you were partially at fault. Under the state’s modified comparative negligence rule, compensation is awarded to the person who bears less than 51% of the responsibility.
Modified comparative negligence
Sometimes, when a traffic accident happens, one person was acting entirely legally. A pedestrian may have looked both ways, stepped into a crosswalk where they had the right of way, and been hit by a car. However, there are also car accidents in which both or all of the people involved were partly responsible. One driver may have been texting while the other driver was speeding. Insurance companies or courts may then need to decide what percentage of responsibility each individual had in the accident. The modified comparative negligence rule means that being even slightly more at fault than the other individual could mean that compensation is not forthcoming.
Other negligence rules
Comparative negligence rules vary from state to state and may range from awarding some compensation if a person is even 1% at fault to awarding zero compensation for that 1% of fault. The former is known as pure comparative negligence and the latter as pure contributory negligence.
A number of complications can mean that determining who is at fault and obtaining compensation is not always straightforward. Insurance companies are protecting their financial interests, and there might be disputes about how an accident happened. Even if one driver is found to be responsible, that driver could be underinsured or have no insurance at all, leading to problems in collecting compensation for the injured person. An insurance company might even dispute that some injuries were the result of the accident if the symptoms did not appear immediately afterwards.