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What is comparative negligence?

Personal injury cases usually involve one person who was injured by another person's actions. Sometimes, though, the blame does not fall on just one person. In some cases, the injured person may hold some responsibility for his or her injury. The Pennsylvania General Assembly explains that under the law when the injured person holds some of the responsibility for his or her injury, it is comparative negligence.

So, if you were injured on someone else's property, for example, and whatever led to your injury was due to the property being in disrepair but also due to your own negligence, then when you go to court, the judge could hold you partially responsible. What this means is that when the judge makes the final decision, he or she may assign a percentage to each responsible party. If the judge feels you had 20 percent responsibility, the other person would hold 80 percent responsibility.

This makes a difference when the court awards damages. In the 20/80 situation, the judge would only require the other person to pay you 80 percent of the damages.

In some cases, the judge may feel your responsibility is greater than the other person's. In that situation, you could not seek damages and the court will not order the other person to pay you anything.

There are some situations where this may happen. For example, if you are off-road vehicle riding or downhill skiing, you may take on more responsibility since you know beforehand that these activities are highly dangerous and there is a huge risk for injury associated with them. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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