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Comparative negligence rule and aggressive driving

In our previous post, we spoke a bit about the problem of aggressive driving in general and here in Pennsylvania. One of the issues we mentioned at the end of our last post is that aggressive driving is often not a matter of only one individual losing his or her temper and acting out on the road. In some cases, perhaps many, there is a mutual antagonism involved in aggressive driving accidents.

In cases where there is mutual negligence or recklessness, it is possible that a plaintiff seeking damages may end up with less of an award than they request in their complaint. This can happen because of the fact that Pennsylvania courts utilize the rule of comparative negligence. 

Under the comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff who suffers injury in an automobile accident can have his or her damages award reduced in proportion to the degree of fault assigned by a jury. Damages may still be recovered in proportion to the degree of fault assigned to the defendant or defendants, provided the plaintiff’s degree of assigned fault does not exceed that of the defendant or defendants. In other words, if the plaintiff is deemed to be over 50 percent at fault for his or her injuries, he or she may not recover any damages.

In aggressive driving cases where the car crash is the result of an intentional tort—which can happen in cases where an aggressive motorist intentionally seeks to do harm to another motorist—and where there is more than one defendant, each defendant can be held responsible for the entire amount of damages assigned to all the defendants. In ordinary cases with multiple defendants, though, individual defendants would only be responsible for the amount of damages corresponding to their respective degree of fault.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at another potentially important damages issue in aggressive driving cases.

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