Comparative Negligence

Date: May 12, 2010
Posted In: DLP Law

Katie was in the parking lot of the local supermarket and had just finished loading her groceries into her car. Across from Katie in another line of cars, Barry had gotten into his car and started to back out. For whatever reason, neither saw the other, and a collision ensued.

Both drivers accused the other of having caused the accident for not keeping a proper look out while they were backing up. Fortunately, the property damage to both vehicles was not severe and nobody was injured. Neither party though had collision coverage and both decided to take the case to the local magistrate.

Issue: How will the magistrate likely decide?

Answer: Mostly likely, both parties will be found to be fifty percent negligent and thus each will be entitled to collect fifty percent of their respective damages. Should the magistrate find for some reason that one party is fifty-one percent negligent, that party will not be allowed to recover anything and the other party will be entitled to fifty-one percent of their cost of repairs. In Pennsylvania this is what is called “comparative negligence.”

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.