In personal injury cases in Pennsylvania, it’s not uncommon to see plaintiffs reducing the amount of compensation they deserve or generally damaging their own chances of success by being negligent. If you’re hearing the term “contributory negligence” for the first time, here’s what you need to know.
What is contributory negligence?
Contributory negligence refers to a situation in which the plaintiff acted in a negligent manner and contributed to their personal injury. For instance, if a person is injured in an accident as the result of getting distracted by their cellphone, they have been negligent and this reduces the compensation that they should receive. People are generally expected to take care of their safety and the safety of others around them. If there’s evidence that the plaintiff was not acting in a way that showed concern for their personal safety, then the courts may consider them negligent.
Is it the same as comparative negligence?
Comparative negligence is a personal injury law concept that refers to the extent of responsibility held by both parties. It’s not uncommon for there to be more than one negligent party in accidents, which means that comparative negligence takes into account how much each person was at fault and assigns blame accordingly.
Insurance companies will readily jump at the chance
Insurance companies often use contributory negligence as a defense. This happens when personal injury cases go to court, and the defendant challenges the plaintiff’s version of events by arguing that they were at least partly responsible for their injuries due to acting negligently themselves. As you can imagine, the plaintiff’s personal injury case can get weakened by this argument.
As you can see, it’s always in the personal injury plaintiff’s best interests to avoid negligent behavior. Not only does this mean not engaging in risky behavior but also using common sense and thinking about how your actions may impact others around you.