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Understanding Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence Rule in Personal Injury Cases

Understanding Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Rule in Personal Injury Cases

If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s fault or negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation. However, the legal system has rules regarding fault and liability. For example, the laws are used to determine if you (the injured party) were partially at fault for the accident and your injuries.

In Pennsylvania, the law operates under the comparative negligence rule. This means even if you were partially at fault, you can recover compensation; however, this rule has a few exceptions.

At Mooney Law, our experienced personal injury lawyers in Pennsylvania can help you understand comparative negligence and when you can and cannot recover compensation.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine used to apportion fault among parties involved in an accident. In Pennsylvania, this rule comes into play when a plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for the incident that caused their injuries.

Pennsylvania adopts a more plaintiff-friendly approach, unlike some states that bar recovery if the plaintiff is even slightly at fault. The state’s comparative negligence law allows injured parties to recover damages as long as they are not more at fault than the other party or parties involved.

How Does Comparative Negligence Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

The principle of comparative negligence introduces a proportional system for awarding damages based on the degree of fault. This means that the compensation you can receive will be adjusted according to your level of responsibility for the accident. For instance, if you are found to be 30% at fault and the damages amount to $100,000, your compensation would be reduced by 30%, resulting in a payout of $70,000.

Being found at fault for an accident can be disappointing, especially if you feel it was the other party’s fault. An experienced Pennsylvania injury attorney can work to minimize your level of fault, which can help maximize your compensation.

The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Navigating the comparative negligence rule requires understanding Pennsylvania’s personal injury laws. Our attorneys can provide assistance with this by providing the following:

Evidence Collection

It is crucial to gather and present evidence that accurately represents the circumstances of your accident. A lawyer can help collect relevant documentation, including medical records, eyewitness statements, and accident reports, to build a strong case on your behalf.

Fault Analysis

Determining fault is a complex process that involves analyzing the actions of all parties involved. An experienced attorney can scrutinize the details of your case to ensure that the fault is fairly assessed, advocating for the lowest possible fault percentage attributed to you.


Insurance companies often attempt to minimize payouts by arguing that the plaintiff shares a significant portion of the fault. A Pennsylvania injury attorney with negotiation expertise can counter these tactics, working to secure a fair settlement that reflects the true extent of your injuries and losses.


Should your case proceed to trial, having a lawyer with litigation experience is indispensable. Your attorney will present your case compellingly, aiming to convince the jury of the other party’s predominant fault in the accident.

Understanding the 51% Bar Rule

It’s important to note that Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence rule is subject to the 51% bar. This means that if you are found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, you will be barred from recovering any compensation.

This threshold highlights the importance of hiring a personal injury lawyer familiar with these laws. By effectively arguing your case, your attorney can help ensure that your level of fault remains below this percentage, preserving your right to compensation.

Case Studies: Comparative Negligence in Action

To illustrate the practical application of comparative negligence, consider the following hypothetical scenarios:

Scenario 1: John, while texting, drives through a red light and collides with Mary’s car, who was speeding at the time. In court, John is found 70% at fault for running the red light, while Mary is deemed 30% at fault for speeding. Mary’s compensation is reduced by her percentage of fault, but she can still recover damages because her fault is below the 51% bar.

Scenario 2: Alex slips and falls in a store due to a wet floor without a warning sign. However, he wore footwear with worn-out soles, contributing to the fall. The court finds Alex 25% at fault and the store 75% at fault. Alex’s compensation is accordingly reduced by 25%. Each situation is unique, and your attorney will evaluate the evidence to advocate for you.

How an Attorney Can Help You Secure Maximum Compensation After a Personal Injury Accident

The comparative negligence rule in Pennsylvania plays a pivotal role in personal injury cases, affecting both the liability determination and the compensation you can recover.

Navigating this rule requires the expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania who can ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

At Mooney Law, our team is dedicated to providing our clients with the highest level of representation, advocating for the justice and compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact us to learn how we

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