The Law of Contributory and Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania

During personal injury lawsuits, it’s common for courts to allocate liability, depending on each party’s contribution to the accident. The laws that govern this process are called contributory and comparative negligence.

Understanding the Concept of Negligence

Negligence is a careless act or behavior that causes another individual to sustain an injury. A negligent action usually occurs when someone breaches a duty of care that they owe another person. For instance, drivers owe a duty of care to other road users. However, driving under the influence of alcohol can endanger other road users, breaching their duty of care.

Negligence forms the basis for all personal injury claims. The courts will consider the facts of a case to determine whose act was negligent before reaching a judgment. If you’re a victim, you can contact a Lancaster auto accident lawyer to protect your interest. To know more, visit website.

The Law of Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is an old legal principle in the history of tort law. Under this doctrine, an individual can only recover damages if he didn’t contribute in any way to the injury. In other words, if a victim has one percent fault, it disqualifies him from filing a lawsuit.

With contributory negligence, personal injury cases are easy for the defense to win. They only need to provide a small piece of evidence that the plaintiff had a role in the accident. As a result, many states evolved from this strict doctrine towards the more lenient comparative negligence law.

The Law of Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence law aims to compensate victims, according to their percentage of contribution to the accident. There are two approaches to comparative negligence; pure and modified.

In pure comparative negligence, a victim can have a percentage of fault up to 99 percent and still be eligible for 1 percent compensation. In other words, he’ll receive some damages unless he’s 100 percent responsible for the accident.

In modified comparative negligence, there are limits to the injured party’s percentage of fault. Will this law can only recover damages if his liability is less than a specific percent. Depending on the state, the fixed limit can be 50 or 51 percent.

The Negligence Law in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state. Section 7102 of the Pennsylvania General Assembly Statue states that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence doesn’t prevent him from seeking compensation, as long as his negligence doesn’t surpass those of the defendant’s.

The state follows the 51 percent rule of the modified comparative negligence law. It means a victim can recover damages if they were less than 51 percent at fault. Therefore, if you contribute more than 50 percent negligence (or the defendant contributes less than 50 percent), you won’t receive damages.


If you’d like to learn how the court calculates your contribution to an accident, you can talk with an attorney. Visit the website of Georgelis Injury Law Firm PC at to schedule a consultation.

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