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Establishing Negligence and Obtaining Compensation in Pennsylvania

October 27, 2016

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Thousands of Pennsylvania residents are injured every year as a result of another person’s negligent or reckless behavior. Fortunately, these at-fault individuals can and should be held responsible for their actions by compensating victims for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.


To establish that a party was negligent, a plaintiff must show that:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
  • The defendant violated that duty; and
  • The breach caused the plaintiff to suffer an actual injury.

In Pennsylvania, one party does not have to be wholly responsible for a plaintiff’s injury for the injured party to recover. This is because the state adheres to the legal theory of comparative negligence, which means that even when a plaintiff partially contributed to an accident, he or she will not be barred from recovery. Instead, any damages sustained by the plaintiff will be reduced in proportion to his or her degree of fault in causing the accident. The only exception to this rule is if the plaintiff’s negligence was greater than the defendant’s, in which case the plaintiff will not be able to recover damages.

Available Damages

Depending on the type of accident, injuries sustained by plaintiffs can range in seriousness from minor bumps and bruises to broken bones, burns, and head trauma. These injuries are not only painful, but also expensive and many victims are required to pay a variety of medical expenses, including the cost of:

  • Emergency treatment;
  • Surgeries;
  • Appointments with specialists;
  • Physical therapy; and
  • Prescription medications.

Victims of serious injuries are often required to take time off from work, which can be financially devastating for families supported by a single income. Victims and their families also suffer emotional hardship at these times, which can take a serious toll on family relationships and the well-being of minor children living in the home. Fortunately, when a plaintiff is able to establish another party’s fault in causing an accident, he or she can obtain compensation for the harm he or she suffered, including damages for:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future income;
  • Property damage;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress; and
  • Incidental costs related to the accident.

Time Limits

In Pennsylvania, parties injured by another individual or entity’s negligence have two years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim with the appropriate court. If an injured party fails to bring the claim within that time period, the court will refuse to hear the case and the plaintiff will be unable to obtain compensation through the judicial system.

How a Dedicated Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

While in many cases, no amount of compensation can return an injured party to the life he or she led before an accident, financial remuneration can go a long way towards helping victims and their families begin the long road to recovery. If you or a loved one live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey and were recently injured due to another person’s negligence, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim by calling (215) 486-0123 and we will help you set-up an appointment for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.



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