How to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
If you are injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, you are entitled to seek compensation for any damages you incurred through a personal injury lawsuit. Many people wonder what it takes to file a car accident lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, if you only suffered minor injuries and property damage, the steps to file a lawsuit in small claims court are relatively easy. However, if your injuries were severe, you should retain the services of our Philadelphia car accident attorney. Below, our experienced lawyer reviews the steps involved in filing a car accident lawsuit.
The First Steps After a Pennsylvania Car Accident
A car accident lawsuit can be a challenging and stressful process. If you have been hurt in a car crash, you should retain our Pennsylvania car accident attorney to help guide you through the lengthy process and allow you to concentrate on tending to your medical treatment.
The first step in filing a car accident lawsuit is determining who to sue. In many cases, the answer might seem obvious – the driver who hit your car. However, in reality, this is not always the situation. Car crashes often involve multiple vehicles and several drivers could have contributed to the accident.
In addition to another driver, other factors could have contributed to your accident, opening other parties to liability. For example, if a construction crew left equipment or debris in the roadway, they could be held accountable for your injuries. Furthermore, damaged roads or obscured traffic signs could mean the local municipality should be held responsible for your damages. When you file a car accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania, you want to ensure you have included all potentially liable parties.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
Your first priority, after any car accident, is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. Whether you decide to seek a settlement agreement with an insurance company or take your case to trial, it is essential to document your injuries and follow through with any medical treatment prescribed. Failing to address your injuries, or minimizing their effect, could jeopardize either a settlement or a car accident lawsuit.
A personal injury lawsuit begins with our Pennsylvania car accident attorney drafting a complaint, including the plaintiff’s allegations against all potential defendants. It will also request compensation and outline the legal theories of the case. Then the complaint must be served on or hand-delivered to each defendant.
Once the complaint is served on the defendant, they will have to file a response. This typically must be done within 20 days. A defendant could also file a counterclaim, alleging that you were at fault or contributed to the accident. If that happens, our office will have to file an additional response to their allegations.
It is important to note that just because you initiated a car accident lawsuit, it does not prohibit you from settling outside of the court process.
What Happens After a Car Accident Lawsuit Complaint is Filed in Pennsylvania?
After the complaint and responses are filed, a few things occur. First, preliminary motions could be filed. The defendant could file a motion to dismiss the case because the undisputed facts presented in the initial complaint do not warrant relief or compensation. Typically, these types of motions are based on legal technicalities.
Some less common motions include motions to change the venue, remove the case to federal court, or change the judge.
The heart of pre-trial procedures is the discovery process. During discovery, the attorneys for all parties involved in the Pennsylvania car accident lawsuit will investigate and research the facts pertaining to the case. This includes collecting and reviewing documents, such as police reports, medical records, and any other written communications that relate to the facts surrounding the accident. Often, lawyers will be required to share the information they have collected. Additionally, all the parties involved and any witnesses that were present could be deposed.
In most cases, interrogatories are the first step in the discovery process. An interrogatory is a list of detailed questions that are sent to the opposing party or a related party concerning details of the case. In a car accident lawsuit, the interrogatories often form the framework for any additional discovery requests. These questions could help determine answers regarding medical costs and treatment, lost income, and shed light on disputed facts in the case. Our experienced West Chester car accident lawyers understand the importance of both drafting appropriate and applicable questions as well as responding to interrogatories.
If the evidence collected appears to present an overwhelming case, for either side, a motion for summary judgment could be filed. If our office believes the evidence clearly supports your claims and justifies compensation, we will request that the judge decided the case without a jury trial. On the other hand, if the defendant believes the evidence shows that you could not prevail at trial, they will request a judgment in their favor.
Settling or Going to Trial After a Filing a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawsuit
At any point during the lawsuit process, a plaintiff could be offered a settlement. Many times, an initially low settlement offer will be significantly increased as the process moves towards an actual trial. Our knowledgeable Pennsylvania car crash lawyer will help you weight the settlement offer against the quality of evidence we have collected and the potential value of your claim. Sometimes, if the evidence is ambiguous, taking the offer is the best decision. However, if the offer is low and your case is strong, we will advise taking your lawsuit to trial. The attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm have your best interests in mind.
Call Our Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
Car accident lawsuits in Pennsylvania are complicated affairs, with many moving parts. If you were injured in a collision, you should be more concerned with your health and medical treatment rather than dealing with the complexities of a lawsuit. Our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys have been representing people hurt in car crashes for decades. Let our seasoned attorneys and knowledgeable staff handle your lawsuit. To schedule a free appointment, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000.