When accidents happen in Pennsylvania and recovery from injuring is already underway, many accident victims find themselves wondering how they will manage the unexpected medical expenses and financial aftermath of their ordeals. One common action is to sue the alleged negligent party for damages. In many personal injury accidents, liability falls on multiple parties. There are even circumstances where the victims share some of the blame.
When the need for financial damages for physical and mental pain and suffering exceed what work, motor vehicle and other accident victims can recover directly from negligent parties, plaintiffs can seek compensation through third-party liability claims from individuals and companies they believe had a contributory role.
Third-party claims are complex
Third-party claims are not as direct as many standard personal injury suits. Plaintiffs must prove that the actions or negligence of the defendant(s) were more harmful than their own. In other words, the law requires the courts to determine contributory negligence or the percentage of fault each party has. If the defendant is 51 percent or greater at fault, they must provide compensation to the victim. However, if fault is less than 50 percent and the victim has a contributory negligence percentage that is greater than the plaintiff’s, they cannot recover damages or compensation in their claim.
Contributory negligence determines settlement amount
When the outcome of a third-party claim results in the defendant having the majority of contributory negligence, the court awards compensation minus the amount of the victim’s contributory negligence percentage. For example, an accident victim who is 35 percent responsible for the ordeal receives 65 percent of the settlement.
Keep in mind that in accidents, many contributory factors determine the cause and outcome, including the victim's actions. Negligence does not always make someone liable for the events. The law's procedures for victims to qualify for compensation are not black and white or easy to understand. Many people who sustain injuries in accidents benefit from seeking out professional legal advice.