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What is "negligence" in a Pennsylvania car accident?

Most Allentown residents, like Americans nationwide, spend a lot of time in motor vehicles. Whether driving to work, to church or the store, automobiles play a large part in our lives. Car accidents result in thousands of deaths and multiples more injuries every year in Pennsylvania. Those who have been hurt in a car crash can end up with huge medical bills, months of lost wages and other economic fallout. Because of this, the legal system maintains a way for these victims to pursue compensation.

In most civil actions for personal injury arising from a car accident, the plaintiff will proceed with a theory of negligence. While there are other possible ways to go about showing liability, negligence is one of the oldest and most common. The underpinning of any negligence theory is the common-law concept, "reasonableness." That is, did the person who created the situation that caused the injury act in a way that a reasonable person in those circumstances would? This standard is often referred to as an "objective standard" as it asks about a hypothetical "reasonable person," rather than what the individual involved was actually thinking.

That is not all, however. Because most states, have codified their negligence standards, each negligence case has certain elements that need to be proven to meet the law's requirements. The first of these are the elements of duty and breach. Then comes the two-part causation test, which requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant's breach of a duty was both a "cause-in-fact" and a "proximate" cause of the injuries suffered. The final element is that of damages. That is, the plaintiff must prove what he or she lost because of the accident.

We may go into more detail regarding these elements in separate posts, as the course of a negligence case can be a complicated one. Suffice to say, however, that Pennsylvanians who have been injured due to the carelessness of someone else should consider that they may have a legal right to compensation for injuries arising out of a car accident.

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