Although vehicle accidents are a common occurrence, nothing can truly prepare you for the measures you might have to take in the aftermath of it all. Here's a compilation of frequently asked questions people ask when they find themselves in collisions that happen in Pennsylvania.
What do I do immediately after an accident?
Regardless of who is seemingly at fault, it's important that you stay at the scene after an accident occurs. Leaving the scene can result in “hit and run” charges, which range from a traffic ticket to a felony on your record. After making sure your vehicle isn't interrupting the flow of traffic, you should first, call the police and file a report. Make sure to report the names of other drivers involved, their address, phone numbers, vehicle information, the location of the accident, eyewitness accounts and any other details that aid in helping police understand what happened at the scene. Remember to avoid claiming to be liable, there are many factors that determine liability, the accident should be thoroughly investigated before you or any other party decides who is at fault. Before you leave the scene, make sure you take pictures of injuries and vehicle damage for your account of the accident, and to possibly verify with your insurance company.
I'm feeling fine after the accident, should I still go see a doctor?
It doesn't hurt to get checked out. Any injury, no matter how seemingly minor it is, should be evaluated by the hospital or a primary care physician. Don't just assume you are okay. Sometimes, symptoms from injuries don't emerge until days, weeks, or even months later. Professionals will be able to determine the severity of your injury, and provide you with the proper treatments, medical attention and medication.
Why should I invest in legal representation if I'm planning on receiving an insurance settlement?
It depends upon the situation. If you are just asking about getting your property damages claim settled it is usually acceptable to speak with the property damages adjustor only. But the process of settling a bodily injury claim isn't so simple. That is because if you are hurt it is never a good idea to try to settle your case on your own as you will be on an unequal playing field with the deck stacked overwhelmingly against you. Only an experienced personal injury attorney has the knowledge and skills to know what is a fair value for your injuries. The adjustor knows when you are represented by counsel that they may fully expect a lawsuit filed against the responsible parties if the settlement offer is unacceptable. Remember, the goal of the accountable driver's insurance adjustor is to minimize their insured's liability and attempt to maximize yours. An attorney with experience knows how to communicate with these companies in a way that won't lessen your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
How soon after the accident should I file a lawsuit?
Each state regulates how long after an accident partakers are permitted to file a lawsuit, this is called the statute of limitations law. In Pennsylvania, drivers have up to two years from when the accident occurred for their suit to be filed with the appropriate court. In the event that you would want to sue a county or state government agency, there are certain notice requirements that must be met so it is imperative that you retain legal counsel promptly if you get hurt on state owned property or are injured by a state owned motor vehicle as you may have only six months to provide notice of your injury. Your attorney would best know when, or if, its necessary to file a lawsuit. Another factor influencing whether or not to file a personal injury lawsuit would be whether or not the insurance company agreed with your attorney as to how you much you should receive for your personal injury settlement.
What kind of information should I be collecting for compensation?
It would be in your best interest to keep tabs on any records relating to the accident. So, records such as medical documentation, police reports, receipts, witness statements, bills, car insurance information etc. would be useful in building your claim.
What kind of compensatory damages can I sue for?
You can get compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle and property damage
- Loss of wages
- Emotional distress
- Medical expenses
- Loss of a loved one
- Reduced quality of life
- Financial support for dependents
What if I am partially to blame for the accident?
If the other party(ies) involved in the accident allege that you share a portion of liability, Pennsylvania follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.” This rule suggests that the percentage of fault you share in the accident will be deducted from the overall amount of compensation you're entitled to receive. If you're proven to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you won't receive any compensation.
Are there limitations as to the amount of money I can receive for compensation?
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are no caps on compensatory damages for personal injuries, but there's an exception. Lawsuits against Commonwealth parties are handled differently. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, “damages arising from the same cause of action… shall not exceed $250,000 in favor of any plaintiff or $1,000,000 in the aggregate.” According to this statute, damages are recoverable for past and future loss of earnings caused by an injury, costs associated with replacing damaged property, and pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff.
Are there limitations regarding the amount of money I can receive for my insurance settlement?
The minimum coverage amount that you can receive in the state of Pennsylvania for personal injury protection is $15,000 per person.
What if mine and the other driver's insurance company can't come up with a sufficient settlement?
In some cases it will be very difficult to come up with a settlement that satisfies both parties. In this instance, it would be best to speak to your attorney to discuss what is entailed in the procedure for filing a lawsuit promptly.
Is Pennsylvania a “fault” or “no fault” state, and what does that mean?
Pennsylvania, along with 11 other states have a no fault insurance law, which suggests that drivers and passengers who get in accidents are responsible for their own personal injuries and damages. This law alleviates the risk of insurance fraud, since all parties involved will be compensated by their respective insurance companies. However, if you wish to sue another party involved for pain and suffering instead of medical bills and damages, you are allowed to, but there are stipulations.You have choice type no fault law in Pennsylvania which determines your ability to make a claim for pain and suffering by either selecting full tort or limited tort as an option. If you have chosen limited tort coverage, a less expensive option which attorney Gary Brod does not recommend, you can only sue in extreme circumstances, where injuries are considered “serious” (death, disfigurement, disability etc) absent certain limited exceptions such as the other driver being from out of state or being convicted of DUI in connection with your accident. This does not prevent you from being sued if you cause an accident, however.
Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys Available For Your Free Case review
I've only answered a few of the most common questions about auto accident law. To get more answers, and to learn how to move ahead quickly with your case, we welcome your request for a free confidential case review, either at my offices in Philadelphia, Reading or Bala Cynwyd or at the location of your choice. If you have experienced any injuries from a vehicle accident, you may be eligible for compensation. Call our toll free number 1-888 435-7946 (888-HELPWIN) or contact us online to pursue your claim and I will get in touch with your promptly. Gary Brod and The Brod Law Firm welcomes your calls anytime, even if you are not certain you have a case. Our legal advice is always free.