Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
Injured In a Crash? Consult an Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
Safety features such as anti-lock brakes and air bags have prevented many car accidents and minimized the risk of injury for drivers. But even though cars may be safer than they’ve ever been, crashes happen every day – and, usually, driver error is a contributing factor. People who drive in a dangerous or irresponsible manner and cause an accident that injures other people can be found liable.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and believe another driver is to blame, the experienced and compassionate Philadelphia car accident attorneys at Wapner Newman can help. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your individual situation and determine what we can do to ensure that you receive the best settlement possible. Call a seasoned car accident lawyer today for a no-obligation consultation, at (215) 569-0900.
CAUSES OF ACCIDENTS
New drivers may make mistakes behind the wheel, simply because they lack driving experience. In general, though, many driving errors can be traced to inattention, recklessness, and dangerous behaviors like driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Accidents come from a wide range of causes, some avoidable, some not. Here are a few of the more common causes:
This includes things like texting while driving, adjusting the radio, or pretty much anything other than paying attention to the road.
Alcohol can kill. Drunk driving rates have declined in recent decades, but alcohol is still a factor in nearly one in three road fatalities.
It’s easy to start speeding when you’re in a hurry. Once you’ve started speeding, it’s easy to get stuck in the habit. Speed limits exist for a reason. Roads are designed to support vehicles driving at a certain speed. Getting where you’re going is more important than getting there fast.
- Rain, snow, fog, and inclement weather
Rain and other bad weather leads to reduced visibility, hydroplaning, and many other factors that make crashes more likely.
- Running red lights
Red lights are there to make sure we all get where we’re going in one piece. Just like with speeding, remember it’s better to get there alive than it is to get there fast.
CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES
Costs associated with a car crash can be significant. Aside from vehicle damage, there may be other types of property loss. Some car accidents don’t cause injury, or they cause only minor scrapes. But some car crash injuries can be severe and require emergency medical treatment, surgery, or long-term care. Those injuries include:
- Whiplash – This neck injury occurs when the head is suddenly thrust forward and back, and it occurs primarily in rear-end collisions. Whiplash may cause neck pain, headaches, dizziness, stiffness – and, in extreme cases, it may cause memory loss, depression, and sleep disturbances.
- Head injuries – The motion that causes whiplash can also cause head injuries, when the brain suddenly shifts position. Commonly, these injuries cause concussion, which is characterized by confusion, agitation, and slight memory loss. More severe injuries can occur when a person’s head hits a window or dashboard. A brain injury resulting from a car accident could cause loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, long-term cognitive impairment, and a change in – or loss of – the ability to smell and taste.
- Chest injuries – Drivers may experience chest injuries if a crash propels their body forward into the steering wheel. The impact can cause broken ribs and internal bleeding.
- Back injuries – Back pain is common after a car crash, and minor causes include sprains or strains. Severe pain that becomes worse with movement could be indicative of a spinal fracture, which may require surgery, extensive time off work, and rehabilitation.
A broken arm and a bleeding wound are obvious signs that a person needs medical treatment. But with whiplash and other internal injuries, the extent of damage may not be immediately known. The adrenaline that accompanies a frightening car crash may lessen pain, and people may assume they don’t need medical treatment.
In addition, there may be psychological effects of crashes, which may take time to manifest. The most common psychological effect is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victims may experience intense emotional distress and avoid anything that may remind them of the accident, including driving, riding in cars, or even being around a car.
Emotions of shock, anxiety, or depression can cause physical and mental symptoms such as:
- Insomnia, nightmares
- Racing heartbeat, dry mouth
- Fatigue, low energy
- Muscle tension, pains, stomach and head aches
- Crying spells
- Hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness
- Intrusive memories or flashbacks.
PHILADELPHIA CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
Even if you think your injuries are minor, you should consult an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney as soon as possible to determine whether you are entitled to compensation. Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations after which you may no longer file a lawsuit. Evidence from car accidents evaporates quickly, and witnesses forget what happened or disappear. Make sure you find out whether you have a case by contacting a Philadelphia car accident lawyer at Wapner Newman today at (215) 569-0900.
How Much Money Can I Get?
The amount you can expect to receive from a car crash settlement varies, depending on a number of factors. The most important of these factors is the type of injury you experience. Broadly speaking, a minor injury (such as whiplash) will often amount to a settlement of $10,000 to $25,000. More severe injuries, such as brain injuries that require surgery and that have lifetime consequences, may bring multimillion-dollar settlements.
The main factors determining the value of a settlement are:
- Medical expenses
A settlement should cover any expenses you’ve incurred in treatment.
- Property damage
This ought to cover the expenses resulting from damage to your vehicle or other property involved in an accident.
- Lost earnings
If you missed work or weren’t able to work as effectively due to your injury, these damages should cover that.
- Future lost income
This should cover any future loss of ability to earn.
- Estimated future medical expenses
If your treatment is ongoing, this will cover it.
- Pain and suffering
Usually applied as a multiplier that increases the other payouts by a factor ranging from 1.5 to 5.
HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER I HAVE A CLAIM?
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligence, you have a claim. The main issue in personal injury cases like this is in determining where the fault lies.
Determining fault is a complex legal process. Even if you think you were at fault in the accident, some facts unknown to you might shed new light on the situation. Don’t assume that you know who is at fault. Get in touch with a legal professional who can help you come to a better understanding. A skilled Philadelphia car accident attorney will be able to tell you whether you have a case and estimate how much your case may be worth.
To have a valid claim for a Pennsylvania lawsuit to recover economic and non-economic damages, your attorney will need to prove the crash was caused by the negligence or fault of another party. Deciding fault can be difficult because there may be issues involved such as bad weather, road construction, another car accident, vehicle malfunctions, or distracted, drunk or aggressive driving.
In proving liability for a crash, these elements are considered:
- Duty – Drivers have a duty to follow the laws and drive in a reasonable manner.
- Breach of Duty – Drivers breach their duty of care by driving carelessly or recklessly.
- Causation – The car accident caused your injuries.
- Damages – You have suffered damages as a result.
There are some cases where an individual can sue after a single-car crash:
- Passengers can sue a negligent driver.
If you are a passenger in a vehicle whose driver causes an accident that injures you, you can file a claim for personal injury against the driver. If the driver is an employee of an organization (such as a taxi company or public transit company), you can file a case against the organization.
- Occupants can sue a negligent party.
If another party’s negligence led to an accident, you can file a case against them. For example, if a mechanic does bad repairs on your brakes, leading you to crash into a wall, you would have a case against them. Other possible candidates for cases like this include organizations (like city governments) responsible for maintaining roads in reasonable condition.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
After a crash, you should seek immediate medical attention, especially if you experience symptoms of a serious injury, such as bleeding, loss of consciousness, pain, numbness, or dizziness. For serious injuries, emergency medical assistance should come to the accident scene.
However, there are some symptoms that may not show up until later so it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to prove that any injuries you sustained were the result of the car crash. In addition, your injuries could get worse and become more serious if you do not get medical attention.
Get medical care after an accident, even if you don’t think you were injured. Some types of injuries won’t be obvious to a professional, so for your own good it’s important to seek medical care as soon as you can. If possible, it’s a good idea to drive straight from the scene of the accident to a physician’s office.
Another reason it’s important to seek medical care is so you can have medical records showing that your injuries were caused by the accident. If you wait too long, it may be difficult to prove that you received your injuries when and where you say you received them. So for your physical and legal well-being, it’s important to get medical care quickly.
In addition, you should do the following:
- Get the car out of traffic.
If you can still drive the car somewhat effectively, get out of the path of traffic as quickly as possible.
- Get information from others on the scene.
This includes obvious things, such as the contact and insurance information of any other drivers involved. It also includes seeking out contact information from any witnesses on the scene.
- Never apologize for the accident.
Even if you think the accident was your fault, don’t apologize. Some people will want to say “I’m sorry,” even if they’re completely sure they weren’t at fault. Any apology can be taken as an admission of responsibility if your case goes to court. Don’t apologize.
- Contact an attorney before you talk to the other driver’s insurance company.
Representatives from the other insurance company are trained to ask questions that will lead you to compromise the value of your claim. Don’t speak to them without first talking to an attorney.
- Take pictures of any damages and visible injuries; document any pain or other symptoms.
- Document all medical and other expenses, and gather relevant paperwork such as police reports and records.
7 Bad Habits of Drivers
WHAT ARE OUR CAR INSURANCE LAWS?
Drivers in Pennsylvania have the option of choosing between “full tort” and no-fault “limited tort” coverage. For limited tort, your own insurance company should pay for all reasonable and appropriate forms of medical care, up to the limits of your policy. However, you are prohibited from suing unless the accident resulted in “serious injury” that results in death, serious impairment of body or permanent serious disfigurement.
If you are using your own insurance company under the no-fault system, you can recover only economic damages for expenses like car repairs or replacement, medical and rehabilitation costs, and lost wages due to missed work. If your injury allows you to go beyond the no-fault limitation or if you have the more traditional “full tort” coverage, you have the option of suing the driver whose negligence caused the accident. If you win a lawsuit, you can recover both economic damages and noneconomic damages, which cover less tangible losses such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of life’s enjoyment and mental anguish.
LAWS RELATED TO CAR ACCIDENTS
There are specific Pennsylvania laws that could affect your personal injury case:
- Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for Pennsylvania sets a two-year limit for personal injury cases of this kind. That means you have two years after your accident to file a lawsuit. After that time passes, you will no longer be able to file. So if you’re thinking about filing, remember you’re working under a time limit, and it’s better to start this process sooner rather than later.
- Comparative Negligence
Pennsylvania is a “comparative negligence” state. This means that you can still receive partial damages for your accident, even if the accident was partially your fault. For example, if the court finds you were 10 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 90 percent at fault, you could receive 90 percent of the damages you’d otherwise receive. However, if the court finds you are more than 50 percent at fault, you can’t receive any damages.
- Pennsylvania has a Fair Share Act that limits the ability of the injured party to recover damages in full from defendants who are partially at fault, particularly in cases where there are multiple defendants. Plaintiffs can recover damages in full from defendants who are at least 60 percent responsible, but those less than 60 percent responsible can be held liable only for their actual share of the total damages.
DEALING WITH INSURANCE ADJUSTERS
If you have been in a car crash in Pennsylvania, remember that an insurance adjuster is not your friend. Their job is to save the insurance company money, so they will attempt to get you to settle your accident claim quickly and for the lowest amount possible. Adjusters know that people often are vulnerable after an accident and fear going to court, and they may therefore accept a low offer.
Insurance companies have resources that include expert legal advisors, and it is difficult to fight this on your own. To make sure you get the settlement you are entitled to, consult a Philadelphia car accident attorney before speaking to an adjuster.
The following are some strategies companies use to pay you less:
- Using experienced adjusters. The more money your claim is worth, the more experienced the adjuster will be who is assigned to you. Less experienced adjusters are assigned to lower-valued cases.
- Taking advantage of your condition. Adjusters will try to get you to settle while you are weak, not thinking clearly, and even while you are still in the hospital. Refuse to talk to them until you are feeling better and are not under the influence of pain medication.
- Trying to get you to make damaging statements. Adjusters know how to get you to admit things that may hurt your case. Do not allow them to record conversations — anything you say may be used against you.
- Using your medical history against you. Adjusters examine your medical records to try to find previous injuries they can claim were the reason for your current problems, not the accident.
- Telling you not to use an attorney. Adjusters try to keep you from hiring a lawyer by claiming the fees would cost you more in the long run. In reality, having an attorney handle your case will let the insurance company know you are serious and have a legitimate claim with a high value. An attorney can keep you from making mistakes and get you a larger settlement.
In addition, consider the following tips when dealing with insurance companies:
- Do not feel obligated to say anything to the adjuster that you do not feel comfortable saying.
- Do not volunteer information that is not relevant or required.
- Be thorough in your documentation of expenses.
- Do not under-value your costs.
- Do not accept a settlement that is inadequate or be pressured to settle more quickly.
- Get an experienced and reliable injury personal lawyer to prove that you deserve compensation and to deal with adjusters and attorneys working for the insurance company.
CAR CRASH TRENDS
Pennsylvania has been collecting crash information since 1935, and data indicates the roads have gotten safer over time. In 2014, the number of reported crashes was the fourth lowest since 1950, and the crash fatality rate was the second-lowest ever recorded. Alcohol-related crashes have decreased over time; however, even though they accounted for just 9 percent of crashes in 2014, they caused 28 percent of crash fatalities. Among drivers ages 21 through 25, 43 percent of fatalities were drivers who had been drinking.
Alcohol-related crashes result in billions of dollars in damages in the United States every year, much of which stems from the loss of lives. It’s clear that, despite the known dangers of drinking and driving, many people do it anyway, putting themselves, their passengers, and other motorists at risk.
EXPERIENCED CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS – PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS
It’s difficult to put a price tag on a family’s pain and suffering, or the loss of a loved one, but the law at least allows families to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury because of an irresponsible driver, don’t wait to get help. Contact an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer who can …
- Investigate the accident and determine who was at fault
- Deal with the insurance adjuster on your behalf
- Recognize when a settlement offer is too low
- Recommend specialists for your medical needs and get expert witnesses to testify if necessary
- Develop realistic compensation estimates for your non-economic damages, such loss of life’s pleasures.
The skilled and experienced Philadelphia car accident attorneys at Wapner Newman are committed to giving your crash case individual attention. Our personal injury lawyers can provide you with dependable guidance, a listening ear, and strong legal strategies. We have helped hundreds of clients through the years deal with accident costs and secure the compensation they are entitled to through our thorough and creative investigative legal solutions.
Contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer at Wapner Newman today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers. Complete our online form or call us at (215) 569-0900.
Resources for Further Reading:
- DMV Page on Personal Injury Cases
- American Bar Association page on Personal Injury Claims
- Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
Car Crash Statistics
- Passenger cars, including light trucks, vans, and SUVs, were involved in more crashes and occupant fatalities than all other vehicle types combined and accounted for the vast majority of crashes and occupant fatalities.
- Most accidents occurred when drivers hit fixed objects, followed by angled collisions and rear-endings.
- The most common driver errors associated with crashes included speeding, distracted driving, improper turns, and drunk driving.
- Male drivers were involved in more accidents than females in most age groups.
In Pennsylvania, more crashes involved a single vehicle hitting a fixed object, such as a tree or guide rail, than any other type.
Factors that can cause or contribute to these accidents include:
- Distracted Driving
- Drunk Driving
- Reckless Driving, running red lights or ignoring stop signs
- Rain, snow, storms, night driving, and poor visibility
- Design defects and failures of the vehicle and its parts
- Bad road conditions
- Dangerous construction zones
- Pools of water or ice patches
- Poorly placed signs.