When a person dies because of someone else’s negligent action, the personal representative of the deceased has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.
During this lawsuit, the representative of the deceased (plaintiff) will have to prove that negligence of the at-fault party (defendant) was the deceased’s cause of death. However, the defendant may argue that the deceased acted negligently as well, contributing to the death. The following explores what you need to know about how a victim’s negligence can affect a wrongful death lawsuit.
Examples of Victim Negligence
In a wrongful death action, the plaintiff alleges that the victim would not have incurred fatal injuries but for the negligent actions of the defendant. However, sometimes, a victim’s negligence can contribute, in part, to death.
For example, Person B (defendant) hit Person A (victim) with his or her car while Person A was acting as a pedestrian. At the time of the crash, Person B had a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit. The wreck caused fatal injuries. While Person B is found to be 85 percent at fault for the accident, Person A is also found to be at fault because, at the time of crash, he or she was crossing outside of a crosswalk, or jaywalking.
Another example of victim negligence may be if a victim was in a vehicle at the time of a fatal crash but was performing an illegal traffic maneuver that contributed to the accident’s occurrence.
Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence Laws
When a victim is found to be partially at fault for an accident that results in death, the damages amount that is paid to the victim’s personal representative in a lawsuit may be reduced.
This law is found in Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes Section 7102 and is known as comparative negligence. The amount that damages will be reduced is equivalent to the victim’s proportion of fault. For example, if the defendant is only found to be 85 percent at fault, as in the example above, only 85 percent of total damages are recoverable. If the fault of the victim was more than 50 percent, recovery is barred.
Contact a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Understanding negligence and comparative negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit can be confusing. To assist you in navigating the legal waters, contact the attorney at Cordisco & Saile LLC today. You can get a free consultation by calling 215-642-2335.