Pennsylvania is a Comparative Negligence State. Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Act allows an injured person to recover against all negligent defendant(s) whose combined negligence totals 50% or greater. See 42 P.S. § 7102. In every negligence case, a Pennsylvania court after hearing the evidence will apportion 100 percentage points of negligence among all the parties, including the plaintiff. As long as the plaintiff's negligence is 50% or less, the plaintiff is entitled to recover against all of the negligent defendants and the court will find in plaintiff's favor. If the plaintiff's negligence is 51% or greater [and thus, defendant(s) combined negligence is 49% or less], then the plaintiff is not entitled to a recovery and the court will find in the defendant(s) favor.
In addition to determining which party or parties prevail on the issue of negligence, the percentage of negligence that the court apportions to each party will also determine that party's contribution toward plaintiff's damages. For example, a court finds that Plaintiff is 40% negligent and Defendant "A" is 35% negligent and Defendant "B" is 25% negligent and that Plaintiff's damage claim for injuries totals $10,000. Under Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Statute, Plaintiff wins her case because defendants' combined negligence totals 50% or more. However, because Plaintiff is 40% comparatively negligent, Plaintiff's damage award of $10,000 will be reduced by Plaintiff's 40% comparative negligence, resulting in a net award of $6,000. Defendant "A" will pay 35% of the $10,000 award or $3,500 and Defendant "B" will pay the remaining 25% of the $10,000 award or $2,500.
Thus, the court's apportionment of each party's percentage of negligence is not only important to determine whether the plaintiff or defendant(s) win the case, but it is also very important in determining the net amount the plaintiff will be entitled to recover after plaintiff's comparative negligence percentage amount is deducted from the court's damage award. For these reasons, it is important to always consult with an experienced personal injury attorney that specializes in negligence cases. There is never any consultation fee.