A car accident is a common occurrence in Pennsylvania. According to the latest data on PennDot, an average of 350 accidents occur every day in the state. An average of 3 of those 350 crashes ends in a fatality. Slightly over 200 car accidents end in a serious injury. Someone’s injuries can be quite extensive, including broken bones, serious disfigurement, burns, and much more. While we hope that our vehicles will take the brunt of the force, some people are just not so lucky. The real question that must be answered is “who’s fault is it?” Most traffic collisions are caused by someone who fails to exercise due care in some way. Ignoring proper safety on the roads can be a sign of neglect. Some car accident cases are simple. It is clear who is at fault. Others are not so easy and can be complicated by multiple potential liable parties. If you are seriously injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania or Maryland, it is important to retain quality legal representation that can assess your case, guide you through your legal options, and advocate on your behalf in and out of court. Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein.
After an accident
If you are in a car accident, call the police and remain calm. Limit your discussion with the other parties to the exchange of contact information only. It is very important that you avoid any discussion of fault. Let the police do the work. If you are seriously injured, your medical needs should be addressed. Let the police know. Once the police come to assess the accident and your medical situation is tended to, some of the facts of your case may already be documented.
After an accident and your insurance choices
If you are injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, it is important to know that the financial aftermath may not be a serious issue to worry about, depending on your choice of insurance coverage. Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault state.” This means that drivers can opt out of the no-fault insurance. With a no-fault insurance policy, a driver’s medical bills and lost wages should be covered under their own plan. If they chose to opt out, they have two options: limited tort and full tort coverage.
Drivers in the state can choose between limited or full tort insurance. Under a limited plan, drivers may pursue damages for the financial aftermath of a car accident, but this limits them to just economic damages, barring them from seeking compensation for noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, for example) unless they meet the serious injury threshold. Full tort insurance does not limit the injured and they can pursue both economic and noneconomic damages.
Establishing fault is important in a car accident case. The need to prove your case is called the burden of proof. Demonstrating evidence of carelessness or negligence can do exactly that. If you have been injured in a traffic accident because another driver was careless or negligent, you need to discuss the circumstances of your case with a personal injury attorney and find out how to seek fair compensation.
The following types of negligent behavior can cause an accident:
- Texting or talking on a cell phone
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Paying more attention to something inside the vehicle than to the road
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving and speeding
- Swerving through traffic
- General disregard for traffic laws
Proving fault is something that can be as easy as calling the police and filing a report. When a police officer comes to the scene, they will detail what they perceive to be the cause of the accident. Sometimes, fault is established almost immediately and evidence supporting it is unquestionable. Other times, car accidents are not so “cut and dry” and need a thorough investigation.
Pennsylvania recognizes something called contributory negligence. Not all accidents are 100% the fault of one party. Depending on the findings, car accidents can be any split, even split among over 3 or more vehicles. Contributory negligence is a legal principle that limits a person’s compensation based on the percentage of their fault in an accident. If the victim of a serious injury is found to be over 50% at fault for the accident, they are usually barred from pursuing compensation.
It is not always a driver’s fault
Some car accidents are not the fault of any driver. There are times when the designers or manufacturers of cars are to blame. Design defects are a type of product liability case. In these, it may be the design of the car or car part that caused serious injury. When this is the case, it is important to establish evidence that the designer of the car or car part was negligent and there existed a safer, equally practical solution. In other cases, cars or their parts are defective because the manufacturer deviated from the design to cut corners. Only an in-depth investigation of the vehicles involved and the scene of the accident by qualified professionals can determine the correct cause of any car accident.
Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein
Insurance companies routinely refuse to pay any compensation until the fault of its insured driver is proven. Our firm understands how insurance company representatives think and the tactics that they use to avoid fully compensating the injured. As successful litigators, we know the value of careful preparation of a claim for damages. If it is necessary to face an insurance company in court to ensure you receive full compensation for your losses, we are ready to take that challenge. Though most of our cases are settled out of court, we meticulously prepare for any situation. Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein for a free initial consultation.