What If I Was Partially at Fault for My Accident?

When a serious injury occurs, such as through an auto accident or slip-and-fall, there are often many contributing factors. It can be difficult to place the entire blame on one person or entity as the carelessness and negligence of numerous actors could have contributed. Sometimes this even includes the injured person. Many people assume that they cannot recover compensation if their own negligence contributed to their injuries in any way. However, this may not necessarily be true. While partial fault on the part of the victim can have a significant impact on the value of a claim, it is often times not fatal to the case.

Some people have heard of the concept of contributory negligence. It is an old rule of law that was once prevalent in the United States which stated that an injured person could not recover any compensation if their own negligence contributed in any way to their injury. This draconian rule, however, has been abandoned in nearly every jurisdiction in the U.S. in favor of more plaintiff-friendly comparative negligence. While there are several variations of this rule, in Pennsylvania in works like this:

  • When there is evidence that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to his or her accident, the jury must assign a percentage of fault to the plaintiff. For example, the jury could determine that the plaintiff was 20 percent at fault because he was speeding but the defendant was 80 percent at fault because he pulled out without looking.
  • The plaintiff can recover as long as the proportion of fault assigned to him or her does not exceed the proportion of fault assigned to the defendant or defendants. Therefore, a plaintiff who was 50 percent at fault for his own injuries can usually recover, but a plaintiff who was 51 percent at fault cannot.
  • If the plaintiff can recover his or her recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned. Therefore, if the jury determines that a plaintiff suffered $200,000 in damages but was 30 percent at fault for his own injuries, the defendant or defendants would still be liable for $140,000.

Thus, pursuing a personal injury claim may still be worthwhile even if you were partially at fault. An experienced Collegeville trial attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your accident to determine how comparative negligence could impact your case. Schedule your free consultation with our firm today!

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