In personal injury law, liability is the key element at the heart of a claim. It’s what courts use to determine whether or not a plaintiff is awarded compensation (or how much a defendant is liable to pay). The word is surrounded by misconceptions as well, as many believe determining liability is always a cut-and-dry process.
The assumption is that if someone caused a car crash, they should be considered liable for that accident and any damages that result. However, the court considers shared fault between the plaintiff and defendant, which could change the amount of compensation to which the plaintiff is entitled.
The Plaintiff May Be Considered Somewhat at Fault
As far as percentages go, most accidents have them when it comes to fault. For instance, in a rear end accident, who would be considered at fault if the driver in front suddenly and unnecessarily slammed on their brakes, but the driver in the back who crashed into that car was tailgating?
In a similar situation, what if one driver is distracted and swerves onto the other side of the road at night, but the other driver doesn’t have on his or her headlights so the distracted driver isn’t aware of their presence?
There are a number of situations that may cause confusion in the courts and it can result in both the plaintiff and defendant being found partially responsible. In these situations, the percentages of liability may alter the compensation provided to the plaintiff.
In a case where the plaintiff is considered to be 49% at fault for the accident, they may only receive up to 51% of the initial compensation amount.
How Defendants Use Percentages to Their Advantage
It is always in the best interest of the defendant to prove the plaintiff is even partially at fault for the accident. This means that the compensation they are paying will be less if there’s any fault placed on the plaintiff.
This increases the importance of speaking with a lawyer prior to speaking with an insurance company or anyone else the defendant may have helping their case. Certain comments may put a plaintiff’s claim at risk, decreasing the compensation they might be entitled to.
Shared fault is not cut-and-dry. How you prove the fault of the people at fault could determine your future health and security. Savvy defendants know how to use the system to hide their own negligence. At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, we don’t believe this is acceptable.
Negligent parties should be held accountable for the harm our clients experience. Let our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers represent you and protect your rights to obtain justice and make a difference.
Call us today to learn if you have a case.