Pennsylvania Personal Injury Laws
Pennsylvania personal injury law covers all types of injuries, including car accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.
Pennsylvania has adopted the doctrine of modified comparative negligence whereby a claimant's action is barred if his contributory negligence was greater than the negligence of the defendants. Otherwise, the claimant's recovery is diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to the claimant.
Pennsylvania Car Accidents
Pennsylvania is one of a dozen states (and the District of Columbia) that uses a “no-fault” system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries after a car accident. In a no-fault state, a driver usually uses their own insurance policy for compensation for injuries up to the personal injury protection (PIP) limit, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Pennsylvania drivers also have the option of choosing between no-fault insurance and traditional insurance coverage. With traditional coverage all options are on the table after a car accident. You can sue the at-fault driver, but you're also opening yourself up to a lawsuit if you're to blame for the accident.
If drivers choose no-fault, a liability claim or lawsuit against the other driver can still proceed. But they can only go forward if the accident involved "serious injury" under state law. "Serious injury" in Pennsylvania typically requires serious impairment of a body function or permanent and serious disfigurement, according to recent court decisions in the state.
Pennsylvania Product Liability Law
Product liability deals with recoveries for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of a product. Product liability cases may involve dangerous toys, automobile design, seat belt failures, improperly designed household products, industrial machinery, products causing explosions or burns, aviation products, medical devices, prescription or over the counter drugs, among others.
A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store. When a company designs and manufactures a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care within the expected parameters of usage expected for the product will not be injured. An action can be based on negligence, breach of implied or express warranty, or strict liability.
Pennsylvania Premises Liability Law
If you were injured at someone else's home or a commercial establishment, the person or entity responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be the responsible party if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises. The responsible party must pay for damages if the injured party proves that:
- the condition of the property was dangerous;
- the owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition; and
- the owner had a reasonable opportunity to correct or warn of the condition, which was not reasonably open and obvious to the injured party at the time of the accident.
In general, it is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises. He must warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known, or should be known to him, if the conditions are not likely to be perceived by the visitor and to repair the conditions within a reasonable time frame. Factors used to determine whether the owner exercised reasonable care in maintaining the property includes:
- the foreseeability of harm to others;
- the magnitude of the risks of injury to others if the property is kept in its current condition;
- the benefit to an individual or to society of maintaining the property in its current condition; and
- the cost and inconvenience of providing adequate protection.
Contact a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney
As you can see, a personal injury attorney may be critical to your claim. If you've been injured by the careless actions of another person, you should consider hiring a local attorney as soon as possible after the incident. It's important to speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Fortunately, you can contact an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney here to evaluate your claim.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Personal Injury Articles
- Who Is Responsible When A Person Is Injured?
- How Do I Decide If I Need To Hire An Attorney?
- How Much Will An Attorney Cost?
- How Long Do I Have To Hire An Attorney?
- How Will My Claim Be Processed?
- What Damages Can I Recover?
- How Can I Determine How Much My Claim Is Worth?