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Can I Still Collect Insurance Payments if I’m Partially at Fault in a Crash?

11 Oct 2022, by Barrett Lawlis in Motor Vehicle Accidents, Personal Injury
Man on phone looking at car crash

Written by Timothy Czekaj

You might wonder if you can still recover compensation if you are partially at fault in a car accident. The answer is that it depends. Pennsylvania has strict legal limits on when you can collect insurance payments from the other party in a crash.

You must consider who has been negligent and what percentage each party is at fault. You can recover compensation after a crash if you’re partly at fault, but several factors ultimately impact the payout.

What is Negligence?

The first step to determining if you are eligible for insurance payments is to determine who is negligent. This can be complex, as negligence is a legal concept that imposes responsibility on a party.

To be found negligent, a party must:

  • Have a legal duty to the other party
  • Breach that duty
  • Cause injury to the other party
  • The injury must result in monetary damages

Additionally, there must be proof of the accident’s car crash injuries.

All drivers have a legal duty to other drivers on the road. That legal duty involves following the rules of the road and not violating any traffic laws.

For example, a driver has a legal duty to drive the speed limit. If they breach that duty by speeding and cause a car accident resulting in injuries to another driver, they may be found to be negligent.

What is Comparative Negligence?

In some car accidents, more than one person is negligent. The second step in determining eligibility for compensation is assessing each party’s fault percentage. This is often the job for the judge or jury. However, your car crash attorney may need to allot negligence if you seek a car accident settlement.

Pennsylvania Uses Modified Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania utilizes a modified comparative negligence theory to determine if a person is eligible for compensation from other parties. Comparative negligence literally compares the amount of negligence of each party in an accident.

Under Pennsylvania law (Section 7102), you are not eligible for financial recovery if you are found to be more at fault than the defendant or more than 50% at fault for a crash.

Additionally, your recovery from the defendant may be reduced by the percentage that you are found to be at fault. For example, if your financial damages are $100,000, but you were 30% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by $30,000. You will receive $70,000 from the defendant.

What Is Pure Comparative Negligence?

Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence law differs from states that use a pure comparative negligence theory. Under pure comparative negligence, a person with any percentage of fault can recover compensation from the other party – even if they were 99% at fault.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Some states use contributory negligence to determine who can recover compensation in an auto accident. Under pure contributory negligence — used in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Virginia — a person who is found to have any fault is not eligible for insurance payments from the other party.

What Can Prove Negligence?

A court will establish fault on a case-by-case basis. It’s essential to work with your accident attorney to gather evidence to prove negligent driving. Many different types of evidence can be used to prove who was the at-fault driver, including:

  • Photos or videos of the scene of the accident
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Police reports and accident reports
  • Medical records
  • Expert opinions
  • Accident reconstruction
  • Cell phone records and transcripts from text messages
  • Other evidence collected at the scene

The goal is to prove that the other driver failed to uphold their duty of care while driving. That might mean showing that they ignored road signs, exceeded the speed limit, or otherwise drove recklessly. You need actual physical evidence and statements from people with first-hand knowledge to prove the facts of what happened.

Does Negligence Affect Insurance Coverage?

The insurance company will consider your negligence when you make an insurance claim after a car accident. Since Pennsylvania adheres to modified comparative negligence, if you are more than 50% at fault, the insurance company of the other party will likely deny your claim. However, there are different ways you can recover your losses in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, all motor vehicles registered with the state must have liability insurance. You are required to have a minimum of:

  • $15,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident
  • $30,000 for injury or death of multiple people per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage of another person

If you are not at fault for the crash or are a partially at-fault driver, you may get money from the liability insurance of the other party, which is totally or mostly at fault.

What Is “No Fault” Insurance?

Before you recover compensation from the other party, you should consider your policy. Pennsylvania has a “choice” no-fault car insurance system.

That means that no matter who is at fault, your own insurance policy (your “personal injury protection” (PIP) or “medical benefits” plan) may cover your out-of-pocket losses up to coverage limits.

The system is technically “by choice” because you may “opt-out” of the no-fault system and deny PIP or med pay on your own insurance plan.

If you have losses that exceed what your insurance company will cover, you can look to the insurance coverage of the other party.

Contact Czekaj Law, LLC for Help

Coverage for car accidents in Pennsylvania can be complex. You must determine who is at fault and their percentage of fault. You may even have to fight to prove you are not more than 50% at fault. These matters should not be taken lightly.

Contact Czekaj Law, LLC today if you have questions about your specific situation and need solid legal advice. Call us at (717) 275-9770 or use our online contact form for a free initial consultation.

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