If you are injured in an Erie car accident, the other driver could be financially liable for your damages. You file your claim with the insurance provider for the other driver and wait for a settlement offer.
However, the insurance adjuster tells you that you were partially to blame for the cause of the accident. For that reason, the insurance company has reduced your claim substantially. Can an insurance company do that?
Proving Fault and Liability for a Car Accident
Car accident cases are based on negligence claims. You must prove all four legal elements of negligence to win your case. For the other driver to be guilty of negligence and thereby financially liable for your damages, you must prove:
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- That party breached the duty of care
- The breach was the direct cause of the accident that resulted in your injury
- You sustained damages because of the accident
All drivers have a duty of care to obey traffic laws. They also have a duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that does not place other people in danger. When a driver is reckless or breaks traffic laws, the driver breaches the duty of care. If you can prove that the driver’s actions directly led to the cause of the crash and you sustained injuries and damages because of the crash, the other driver should be responsible for your damages.
However, Pennsylvania law states a victim’s compensation for an accident claim is “diminished” or reduced if the victim is guilty of contributory negligence.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Contributory negligence is a legal theory used in personal injury cases, including an Erie car accident. Under contributory negligence, the victim of a negligence claim may not recover the full amount of damages if the victim contributed to the cause of their injury. In other words, if you are partially at fault for an Erie car accident you cannot recover full value for your claim.
An insurance company may try to shift the blame for a car crash to the victim. By doing so, it may avoid paying a claim. Even if the company can convince a jury that the victim is partially responsible for the cause of the crash, the company can avoid paying the full value of the claim.
How Does Contributory Negligence Work in an Erie Car Crash?
Under Pennsylvania’s contributory negligence law, a victim cannot recover any money for a claim if the victim is 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of the car wreck. However, if the victim is less than 51 percent at fault, the victim can recover some money for the claim. The amount is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim.
Let’s assume a jury found that you were 30 percent responsible for the cause of the car accident. Your compensation would be reduced by 30 percent. For a car accident claim involving catastrophic injuries, which could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
Call an Erie Car Accident Lawyer for Help
Never admit fault for a car accident or apologize for the car crash at the accident scene. If an insurance company tries to say that you contributed to the cause of the crash, contact our office immediately to discuss your case with an Erie car accident attorney.
Call (800) 401-2066 to schedule your free legal consultation.