Sometimes it is obvious who caused a car accident. Other times, it is difficult to determine who caused an accident, and multiple drivers may share the fault for it. In order to determine who was "at fault" in a particular car accident, it is necessary to take into account the accident's circumstances. Sometimes it is straightforward to determine who is at fault, as in the case of someone running a stop sign and broadsiding another vehicle, but other times it is more challenging. This is true even in one-or two-car collisions, and it dramatically increases in collisions involving three or more vehicles.
It is possible to file a claim for a car accident that was partially your fault, but it is highly advised that you discuss your PA car accident case with an experienced car accident attorney.
Can I File a Claim if I Was at Fault for a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, you have the right to compensation or damages even if you were partially at fault for a car accident. When determining fault and assigning a percentage of liability, insurance companies consider many factors. Pennsylvania's comparative negligence statute, 42 Pa. C.S. § 7102, states that a plaintiff's fault does not bar them from recovery so long as they’re less at fault than the defendant.
In simple terms, if the accident victim is less than 51 percent at fault, they are still entitled to compensation proportional to their degree of fault. For example, if you were 20% at fault, you are still eligible to recover 80% of the total amount of compensation awarded. If you were 51 percent or more at fault, however, you lose the right to compensation.
How is Fault Determied in a PA Car Accident?
The legal responsibility for a car accident is typically determined by whether or not the individual or entity at fault acted negligently in causing the accident. In some cases, such as a drunk driving accident, it is straightforward to establish that criminal negligence was the cause of the accident and that the responsible party should be held liable for damages.
When establishing and assigning fault, an experienced auto accident attorney and the different insurance companies of the parties involved can take into account the evidence and a number of variables.
These include of:
- Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident
- The location of the accident
- Electronic data from recording instruments
- Driver actions
- Any violations by drivers of traffic laws at the time of the accident
- Witness statements
- Accident report information
- Type and location of the vehicles’ damages
- Law enforcement follow-up actions
In multi-vehicle collisions, multiple drivers frequently make mistakes. For instance, one driver may be accelerating while another is running a red light. The actions of both vehicles contributed to the accident. An insurance company determines the extent of each party's liability and allocates a percentage of fault. The term for this is modified comparative negligence.
How Does Pennsylvania's Modified Comparative Negligence Law Work?
Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence law may affect your right to compensation. In Pennsylvania, there are no specific guidelines for determining fault in auto accident claims. Instead, the amount of fault is determined on a case-by-case basis, with everything depending on the accident's circumstances.
The modified comparative negligence law allows insurance companies to determine liability for an accident based on the relative fault of the parties involved. After reviewing the specifics of the case, the insurer assigns a percentage of liability to each party.
The insurer takes into consideration:
- Driver distraction or impairment
- If traffic violations occurred,
- Failure to observe the other vehicle
- Failure to use signals or the horn
- Failure to apply the brakes
- Failure to avoid the other vehicle
Under Pennsylvania law, the amount of monetary compensation or damages you can receive is reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were 20% at fault and your damages totaled $10,000, the other driver's insurance company would pay you $8,000. Importantly, if you are found to be more responsible for the accident than the other drivers (i.e., more than 50% at fault), you will not receive financial compensation.
Insurance companies will attempt to use comparative negligence to transfer accident liability to the victim. Their objective is to resolve injury claims for as little money as possible.
Be aware of this strategy. Adjusters for claims may attempt to persuade you to acknowledge something that could be used to establish fault. Prior to providing statements or responding to questions about the accident or your injuries, it is generally in your best interest to consult with a skilled PA car accident attorney.
Brandon J. Broderick Can Help You With Your PA Car Accident Claim - A Free Consultation is Available Today
Pursuing a legal claim for a car accident may appear intimidating, but we encourage you to consider obtaining the assistance of Brandon J. Broderick's team of attorneys. Even if you were partially at fault for a car accident, without a legal claim, the insurance company can offer you an insignificant settlement that barely meets your needs and may even refuse to pay for some of the damages. You may be responsible for covering the cost of your injuries.
Working with a skilled, well-respected personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience and a track record of success. We are prepared to assist you at any of our multiple locations in Pennsylvania.
Contact us today, and we'll help you recover from your setback. We look forward to helping you move forward.