Is the Driver Liable if the Passenger is Injured in Pennsylvania Car Accident?
The aftermath of a catastrophic accident can be stressful for numerous reasons—dealing with car repairs, an excess of medical bills, mental anguish, among other things. It is important for an injured passenger to fully comprehend their rights and be aware of the coverage that insurance policies provide in the state of Pennsylvania. Fortunately, there are relatively few people that could be responsible for the passenger’s injuries. This will make it easier for the passenger to pursue a lawsuit if necessary. If you were a passenger in a car accident and you wish to file a lawsuit for your injuries, contact an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer today. The Reiff Law Firm recognizes the uncertainty that a person may experience if they are seriously injured as a passenger in a car accident, and we are here to help you resolve this issue. Our firm is here to explain the cases in which the driver is liable for an injured passenger in a car accident.
Determining Liability for Injuries to a Passenger
Liability is complicated and will depend on the particular details of your accident. If the accident if between your car and another, the first thing to note is that Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. This means that you should first look to your driver’s insurance policy for economic coverage, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, should another car be involved. No-fault insurance typically covers economic damage, like car repairs or lost wages, but does not always compensate for the severe physical injuries and/or emotional distress that can result.
If it is a two-car accident, there are more considerations to make before filing a lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, any driver would either have full tort or limited tort automobile insurance. Both types of insurance are applicable in cases in which a passenger is injured where the other car was at fault. Limited tort insurance, though less expensive, only covers severe and irreparable injuries including death or significant bodily disfigurement. Thus, it is possible that insurance companies will deny claims that do not live up to this standard, despite the fact that an injured passenger may have devastating physical or mental injuries.
On the other hand, if you believe that the injuries you suffered were a result of the negligence of the driver you shared a car with alone, you may have to resolve your claim with the driver directly. If the driver is a family member, it is possible that their insurance policy contains a specific provision that covers injured family members.
There are also cases in which the driver may not be liable if some unforeseeable circumstance caused the accident. For instance, if someone was driving during a storm and a tree suddenly fell into the car, this may be a circumstance in which the driver is not liable for any consequential injuries. Another situation in which the driver may not be liable is if your car malfunctioned, in which case a third party—such as the manufacturer of the car—may be liable for your injuries instead.
Before making any insurance claim, it is important to seek immediate medical attention to be aware of the full extent of your injuries. You may have a sustained injury that could become aggravated as time passes. Once you have received medical attention, you can seek compensation from the negligent driver(s) insurance policy.
If the insurance coverage of the negligent driver(s) does not fully cover your injuries, it may be wise to consider filing a lawsuit. If you are considering filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver(s), it can be helpful to document your injuries through photographs, if possible. To learn more about the legal processes associated with passenger car injuries, continue reading and speak to an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney.
When to File a Car Accident Lawsuit After Being Injured as a Passenger
If you were a passenger injured by the carelessness of a driver, it is critical that you file your personal injury lawsuit within the time requirements set by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations, also known as the prescriptive period, is a law that places a time constraint on the filing of a lawsuit. If you do not pursue legal remedy within the timeframe, it is possible that your case will no longer be eligible and you will not receive your rightful compensation. In Pennsylvania, the statutory deadline for personal injury lawsuits is within two years of the time a claim accrues, or two years from the moment the traffic incident occurred.
There may be exceptions to the harsh cutoff set by the statute of limitations, allowing your case to be heard by the court, even if it is after two years from the accident. Such instances include if the plaintiff is a minor, if the defendant is no longer in Pennsylvania, or if the defendant attempts to conceal evidence that establishes their liability. In these cases, the statue of limitations is tolled—the legal jargon for extended. If you file a third party insurance claim expecting to settle outside the court system, it may be smart to keep the option of court open, rather than relying on the insurance coverage. Furthermore, if you would like the opportunity to file a lawsuit as a possible option, be mindful that your case may be thrown out if it surpasses the two-year deadline.
If you were a passenger in a vehicle when a car crash occurred, one of the drivers in the crash would likely be responsible for your injuries. Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative negligence standard, meaning that the court will determine the percentage at fault of all drivers contributing to the crash. A driver partially responsible for an accident can still receive financial compensation so long as he or she is not 51% or more at fault. This means that the driver at the time of the accident may be entitled to some financial compensation. Additionally, the degree to which the driver is at fault for the accident will determine the proportion of money a plaintiff will receive.
If you are an injured passenger and unsure which driver is entirely at fault, you can file a lawsuit against both or all drivers. According to the rules of Pennsylvania law, if the court assigns one driver as 30% at fault for your accident, they will be responsible for 30% of the injury compensation, and the remaining 70% will be assigned to the other driver(s). It is important to request the drivers’ contact information as well as their license number, insurance company, and the make and model of their vehicle. Our highly trained attorneys are here to help you gather evidence and secure statements from key witnesses in order to establish negligence against either or all parties.
Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys You Can Trust
If you were injured in a car accident while riding in the vehicle as a passenger, consult with a committed and experienced Pottstown personal injury attorney. Establishing driver negligence in court is difficult, but the legal counsel at Reiff Law firm understand the nuances of the system in order to best build your case. Our legal team has acquired decades of legal experience that we would be proud to use to represent you in your injury claim. Our Main Line car accident lawyers are here to help. To schedule a free consultation, contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940, or contact us online.