To say that car accidents are not always neat and tidy is true, even if it is an understatement. To say that car accidents are not always neat and tidy from a legal perspective may not be obvious to all, but is nevertheless true. One way this is true is when the negligence of multiple parties has contributed to a plaintiff’s injuries. Determining liability in such cases is not always an easy matter.
Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, a plaintiff’s own negligence does not necessarily bar recovery of damages, but it can be factored into his or her recovery. The law provides that a negligent plaintiff may still recover damages except in cases where his or her negligence exceeds the negligence of the defendant or defendants. So, a plaintiff who is deemed by a jury to be 51 percent or more at fault for his or her own injuries may not recover damages. A plaintiff who is less than 51 percent at fault for his or her own injuries may still recover, then, but his or her damages are reduced in proportion to the degree of negligence assigned to the plaintiff.
It is important to emphasize that, under the comparative negligence law, the ability to recover damages from a negligent party may be limited by that party’s proportionate liability, but not in cases where a party meets a certain threshold of liability. Exceptions to this rule are: cases where the defendant is at least 60 percent responsible for the total liability; cases involving intentional misrepresentation; cases involving an intentional tort; in certain cases where hazardous substances were involved; an in certain cases involving violations of the Liquor Code.
It is important for car accident victims to work with an experienced attorney in building a solid damages case. This includes working to reduce the consequences of the plaintiff’s own liability and ensuring that his or her ability to recover from at fault parties is maximized.