What Does Contributory Negligence Have to Do With Your Philadelphia Fall Accident?

In Philadelphia fall accident lawsuits, one of the issues that often arises is contributory negligence, i.e., whether the injured individual was partially at fault. However, just because the injured individual was partially at fault does not necessarily mean that he cannot recover. See discussion here.

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When individuals are hurt after fall accidents in Philadelphia, they have legal rights against responsible parties.  One of the defenses responsible parties may argue is that the injured individuals were partially responsible for their own fall accidents.  This is called contributory or comparative negligence.  As Philadelphia personal injury lawyers, we see this defense time and time again in slip, trip or fall accident lawsuits.  When we inform our clients about this defense, many are worried that they may not be able to prevail in their lawsuits.

Related: Philadelphia, PA Slip, Trip & Fall Accident – Types of Financial Compensation

Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, just because individuals may be partially responsible for accidents, such as fall accidents, does not necessarily mean that they cannot recover. Section 7102(a) of the Pennsylvania General Assembly Statute defines comparative negligence as the following:

General rule.–In all actions brought to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or injury to person or property, the fact that the plaintiff may have been guilty of contributory negligence shall not bar a recovery by the plaintiff or his legal representative where such negligence was not greater than the causal negligence of the defendant or defendants against whom recovery is sought, but any damages sustained by the plaintiff shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to the plaintiff.

In other words so long as the negligence of injured individuals (plaintiff) is not greater than the defendants’ negligence, they can still financially recover.

Below is an example of how this works:

A pedestrian is walking on a brick sidewalk in front of a home in Old City Philadelphia.  While she is walking, she is searching in her purse for her keys.  She trips over a broken brick in the sidewalk and falls forward.  She fractures her shoulder requiring surgery.  The pedestrian sues the homeowner who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk.  The homeowner’s lawyer alleges that the pedestrian contributed to her fall and argues that if the pedestrian was not looking in her purse, she would have seen that there was a broken brick in the sidewalk.  If she saw it, she would have walked around it and would not have fallen.

The jury awards the pedestrian $200,000, but finds the pedestrian 30% responsible for her fall.  Therefore, her $200,000 award is reduced by 30%, and she recovers $140,000.

If the jury finds the pedestrian 51% responsible (more than the defendant’s negligence), then she cannot recover anything.

Help from Experienced Philadelphia Fall Accident Injury Lawyers

Our lawyers have successfully recovered large monetary awards for their clients in Philadelphia fall accidents.  If you have questions about a fall accident, call to schedule a FREE consultation.  (866) 641-0806

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