Can I Claim Personal Injury in Philadelphia If It Was My Fault?
When the negligent actions of one individual solely caused a preventable accident, the resulting personal injury claim would be fairly straightforward. However, most cases are just not that simple. In a motor vehicle crash, for instance, both drivers might share some of the fault for the accident.
In certain states, injured victims could only claim damages in a personal injury case if the defendant or other driver is 100% at fault for the crash. In most states, however, the court will need to review the circumstances surrounding the accident to figure out each driver’s proportionate blame (if applicable). This is known as comparative negligence.
In Pennsylvania, courts use the comparative negligence principle, with one very crucial modification. In the state, an injured victim could only file a claim against the other party in an accident when that party’s degree of fault in the accident is higher than the injured victim.
Understanding How Shared Fault Works in Philadelphia
It is common for the other party to try and claim that an injured victim shares some of the blame or contributed to the accident that resulted in the victim’s injuries. If an injured claimant does share some of the blame for the accident that caused their injuries, it would impact the compensation amount they could receive from the defendant.
In personal injury cases where shared fault might be applicable, Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative negligence system. Basically, how much compensation or damages an injured party is entitled to get would be lowered by the amount that’s equal to the victim’s degree of fault. However, the injured party must be less than 50% at fault for an accident to pursue compensation from the other party.
To illustrate, let’s say that you got into a T-bone collision at an uncontrolled intersection with another driver who was speeding crashes into the side of your car. However, you were also found to be texting at the time of the crash. Because of the accident, you sustained serious injuries that meet the state’s serious injury threshold (more on that below), allowing you to file a personal injury claim against the other driver despite the state’s no-fault auto insurance system.
The other driver’s insurance provider doesn’t want to settle fairly and is claiming that you shared some of the fault for the crash because you were texting. So you take your case to court. During the trial, the jury determines that you were 20% at fault for the crash and the other driver was 80% to blame. Let’s say that the worth of your damages is $50,000.
Under the modified comparative negligence principle, you will only receive $40,000, which is minus the $10,000 that signifies your percentage of fault for the crash.
Fault Does Not Matter in SOME Philadelphia Motor Vehicle Accidents
Since Pennsylvania follows the no-fault auto insurance system, people who have been injured in traffic accidents will turn to their own auto insurance provider to obtain coverage for all their accident-related bills and lost wages, regardless of who caused the accident. Similarly, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident as a passenger, you would turn to the no-fault auto insurance plan of the driver of the vehicle you were in when the accident occurred.
Under no-fault rules, injured victims can’t file a claim against the other driver (if the other driver was at fault) unless their injuries meet the serious injury threshold. But what exactly is this serious injury threshold? According to state law, serious injuries are personal injuries that result in death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious body function impairment.
However, this legal definition does not exactly come with a specific list of conditions and qualifications. Because of this, the courts have discretion when determining whether a person’s injuries meet the threshold. They do this by evaluating the person’s injuries and how their condition stacks up against similar injuries that either fell short of or passed the threshold.
Ensuring that your injuries will pass the threshold will require a thorough presentation of your condition using reliable testimonial and diagnostic evidence. For this, your Philadelphia personal injury lawyer will require help from healthcare professionals who can testify and prove that your pain, which can’t always be measured diagnostically, is interfering with your bodily functions that it presents serious harm or impairment.
Seek Legal Help from a Top Personal Injury Lawyer in Philadelphia
The bottom line—injured accident victims are entitled to claim personal injury for an accident even if they share some fault for the accident. To better understand how the state’s modified comparative negligence rules will apply to your case, call Mattiacci, LLC, at 215-709-7915 or contact us online. You can learn about the legal options that may apply to your claim through a free case consultation with our experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer.