Earlier this year a motorcyclist and his passenger were seriously injured when the driver of a Nissan Sentra made a left turn in front of the motorcycle in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. The driver of the car was not injured; however, both motorcyclists were transported to the hospital, one in critical condition. In this case, it should be very clear that the driver of the vehicle is at fault for the accident. An insurance company may argue differently under comparative negligence in order to reduce the amount of compensation paid to the victims.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is the legal theory that you can be held partly responsible for your injuries because you were partly responsible for the accident. In some states, comparative negligence laws prevent accident victims from receiving any compensation for their damages if it is determined the victim was even 1% at fault for the accident. Insurance companies in these states aggressively fight to prove fault under comparative negligence to avoid paying claims.
The 51% Rule Is Used in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, we use a modified form of comparative negligence often referred to as the "51% rule." If a judge or jury determines that the other driver is more than half at-fault for the accident, you can collect compensation under comparative negligence even though you partially contributed to the crash. The amount of compensation you collect is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the accident.
For example, if the jury awards you $100,000 for your injuries but the jury assigns 30% of the fault for the accident to you, the amount of compensation you receive will total $70,000 ($100,000 less 30%). Therefore, even though you may believe you are partially at fault for an accident, you still may want to consult a personal injury attorney to maximize your claim.
How Do Insurance Companies Use Comparative Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Cases?
Motorcycle accident cases are slightly different from automobile accidents involving only passenger vehicles. Insurance companies like to use the misguided, unfounded, and incorrect stereotypes that some people have toward motorcyclists to blame the rider for the accident. Under comparative negligence, if the insurance company can convince a jury that the rider was speeding or driving recklessly, some of the fault for the accident will be assigned to the rider. Therefore, Pennsylvania's comparative negligence law requires that the rider's compensation be reduced by that percentage.
Some people view motorcyclists as reckless and careless when on the road. Insurance companies paint riders as taking chances by speeding, driving recklessly, and driving distracted thereby contributing to accidents. This is done to reduce the amount of compensation paid to the rider under the comparative negligence law. An experienced Pennsylvania motorcycle attorney has handled this type of issue many times and he understands how to fight negative stereotypes to win.
You Need an Experienced Harrisburg Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Our motorcycle accident lawyers understand the complexities involved in proving fault in a motorcycle accident case. Through our experience, we have built a strong network of experts and resources we utilize to reconstruct accidents and identify evidence to use as we refute the insurance company's allegations. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in York, Harrisburg, or the surrounding areas, contact Handler Henning & Rosenberg LLP for a free consultation. We want to help you receive the compensation you deserve so that you can continue to recover and get your life back after a motorcycle accident.