Friend jumped on hood...

by Robert
(Pittsburgh, PA)

I was meeting a friend at a park near his house. When I got to the park I slowed down and he came to the middle of the road and hopped onto the hood of my car. I told him to get off or he was going to get hurt, but he didn't. I hit the gas a little going 10 mph and after I started hitting the break. When hitting my break he fell off and hurt himself.

He has a broken ankle, a concussion and a couple of bad bruises and scrapes. I got out of the car and he said he was fine and he needed no help. After I saw his head was scraped I told him he needed to go to the ER . He started to forget what happened. I went to his house and told his parents what happened and I'm afraid that they're going to try and pin this on me.

My question is, who fault is this? I told him to get off the hood and he wouldn't. He was telling me to drive so I hit the gas a little. That's when he started to lose his grip. The car was not even going 5 mph because I was hitting the break by then. Can his parents come after me for his medical bills? What could happen? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Friend jumped on hood...":

Robert (Pittsburgh, PA):

Yes. You will be liable for your friend's "damages." They can include his medical bills, out of pocket expenses for medications, crutches, etc. and any wages he may lose while recovering and unable to work. Your actions in driving and braking, and then driving and breaking again constitute negligence.

Unless you can prove your friend was posing a threat to your safety, your actions were negligent. It's kind of like the old game of "paper, rock, scissors." Car always beats person jumping on hood.

There will be an offset to your liability. The State of Pennsylvania is a "comparative negligence" state. This means your liability is diminished by the percentage of your friend's negligence. While there isn't a chart you can refer to determine comparative negligence, you need to tell your friend's parents under Pennsylvania law their son is partially liable for his own injuries.

As a result, if they ask you to pay for his medical bills, tell them you will pay ten percent, and they are responsible for the balance of ninety percent. You can negotiate down from there. Your friend's parents may also file a claim under your car insurance.

You must notify your insurance company immediately. The fine print in your policy requires you to do so. Your car insurance will cover you up to the limits of your policy. Of course, there's no guarantee your rates won't go up.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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