Car accidents are so commonplace that most people you know have likely experienced an accident at some point. The outcome of an accident is unforeseeable and uncertain. Some accidents are extremely severe, while others are minor. After an accident, you need to consult with an experienced attorney. The insurance process can be complicated and frustrating to navigate on your own. If insurance does not cover you, a personal injury lawsuit might be necessary.
If you were involved in a car accident, our team of skilled and experienced lawyers can help. Schedule a free legal consultation with our Philadelphia car accident attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm. Call (215) 709-6940 to get started as soon as possible.
How to Know if You Have a Car Accident Case
Car accidents happen for any number of reasons. Sometimes, your accident was due to forces beyond your control. Hydroplaning on the wet road or hitting a patch of black ice can cause serious accidents, but they do not necessarily lead to lawsuits. However, when another person caused your accident, you might have a personal injury case on your hands.
Every car accident case is unique, so it is important to talk to an attorney about what happened to determine if you have a valid case. Many car accident cases are based on the negligence of other drivers. If you believe your accident was caused by someone else’s unsafe behavior on the road, you might have a good case. In a negligence action, the defendant did not intend to cause the accident, but they must be held accountable for their behavior anyway.
A good case might be one in which you have ample evidence of the other person’s fault. Fault refers to blame or responsibility for a car collision. Accidents tend to happen very quickly, and many drivers have trouble accurately remembering how they happened. Also, accident scenes are cleared by law enforcement pretty quickly to keep the road safe for other drivers. Because of that, physical evidence may be scant.
Evidence of fault could include eyewitnesses who saw the accident, traffic tickets issued to the other driver for unsafe driving, and information about the damage to your vehicle and your physical injuries. Not every case will have a lot of strong, supporting evidence. Some cases, although valid, are weak and unlikely to succeed. It is important to talk to a lawyer about your case to determine the best way to get compensation for your damages. Call our Philadelphia car accident attorneys for help today.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
Filing a lawsuit for a car accident is a difficult decision. On the one hand, you want to get fair compensation for the injuries and damages you have had to endure. On the other hand, filing a lawsuit will add another complex layer to an already difficult situation. Even though you do not have to file a lawsuit, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney about your case sooner rather than later.
It is generally recommended that you contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible following a car crash or collision. We recommend this for multiple reasons, such as preventing the loss of evidence over time and better quality eyewitness testimonies. The sooner you contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer, the better your chances are of success in your case.
Winning or losing a personal injury lawsuit often depends on the evidence presented at trial. However, all evidence is not always available for an indefinite period. For example, video footage showing what happened leading up to and during a car accident could present a persuasive argument in your favor. Many stretches of road and highway are covered by surveillance cameras attached to local businesses. In nearly every case, this footage is only saved for a short time. Our experienced Philadelphia car accident attorneys need to contact these businesses immediately after an accident to preserve vital evidence.
Additionally, it is usually best to speak with accident witnesses as soon as possible. While a police report provides details of what occurred, it is rarely sufficient to decide a case. By carefully questioning witnesses immediately following a car crash, we can obtain sworn testimony while the incident is still fresh in their minds. If you wait too long to begin working on your case, important witnesses could move, and it is not guaranteed that we will be able to track them down. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers can help you decide if filing a lawsuit is right for you.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Philadelphia?
Lawsuits cannot be filed whenever you feel like it. There are time limits on lawsuits known as “statutes of limitations” that prevent people from filing after a specific amount of time. The purpose of these statutes of limitations is to prevent people from filing lawsuits so far removed from the actual accident or event that resolving them would be almost impossible.
There may be different statutes of limitations for different types of cases. These statutes may also change depending on what state you are in. In Pennsylvania, according to 42 Pa. C.S. § 5524, a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident must be commenced within 2 years of the accident.
This 2-year time limit is usually a very hard deadline, but there may be circumstances under which the statute is tolled and your time is extended. For example, because minors are often unable to file lawsuits on their own, the statute of limitations on a minor plaintiff does not begin to run until they turn 18. Alternatively, if someone were so disabled that they could not file a lawsuit, the statute would be tolled until the plaintiff recovered.
If some time has passed since your accident, and you have not yet filed a personal injury lawsuit, call our Philadelphia car accident attorneys. We can help you figure out if you are still within the statute of limitations or if you can toll the statute.
How Can the Reiff Law Firm Help You?
The skilled and experienced attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm in Philadelphia can help you file your personal injury lawsuit and get the compensation you need and deserve. Sometimes, we do everything we are supposed to do to stay safe on the roads. We wear our seatbelts, use our turn signals, check our blind spots, and drive the speed limit. But we can never fully account for the negligent or dangerous behavior of other drivers. If you are hit by another car, the Reiff Law Firm will stand by your side and help you hold the other driver accountable.
Our legal team has decades of experience handling personal injury and other cases for clients. No matter how your case turns out, we will be there to make sure your best interests are served and protected. If that means taking your case to trial, we will represent you in a court of law. Alternatively, if you would rather settle out of court, we can help you negotiate the best settlement possible for your case. Get help with your case today by calling our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm.
Why Should You Choose the Reiff Law Firm Over a Different Attorney?
After deciding to pursue your claims in a civil lawsuit, your first step will be to find a qualified attorney who can fight for you in court. Philadelphia is full of attorneys who could potentially help you file your claim and get compensation for your damages. However, the Reiff Law Firm stands apart from the rest.
Our dedicated team has decades of experience fighting for our clients. To us, your case is not simply another number. If we agree to take on your case, it is because we believe in it and care about bringing you the justice you deserve. We dedicate ourselves completely to every case and client.
When it comes to strategy and planning, our firm is unmatched. Our team consists of lawyers and support staff from various backgrounds, each bringing something unique to the table. Our experienced team, advanced skills, and dedication to our clients have left us with a winning track record. Call our Philadelphia car accident lawyers today to discuss your case with our passionate, driven team.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
Car accidents can be very stressful, and you might not know what to do when one happens. By following a simple checklist, you can save yourself a lot of headache later.
- Immediately pull your vehicle over.
- Call 911 and get the police and emergency medical responders dispatched to your accident.
- Exchange information with any other drivers.
- While waiting for emergency responders, take photos of the scene, but only if it is safe for you to walk around.
- Once the police arrive, calmly explain what happened.
- Identify any possible eyewitnesses.
- If you do not go to a hospital, see a doctor as soon as possible, even if you do not feel injured.
- Call a car accident lawyer for assistance.
Your injuries after an accident might be minimal, but many drivers are severely injured and need immediate medical attention. You should call for help right away. If you cannot get to your phone, have a passenger, passerby, or the other driver make the call for you. You cannot take care of your case until you take care of yourself.
If your injuries are serious, you might be taken from the scene by emergency responders. If your injuries are minor, see if you can exit your car and walk about the scene to take pictures of the accident. These photos will be immensely important for insurance purposes and possibly a lawsuit.
After the accident, you should keep thorough records of all your expenses related to the accident, including medical bills, repair costs, lost wages, and any other accident costs. These records will be important for calculating your damages.
Following your accident, look for anything that could be used as evidence. If you notice surveillance cameras at a nearby storefront, make a mental note to get the footage. If you see anyone passing by on the street, try and get their name and phone number to use them as a witness. Reach out to our Philadelphia car accident attorneys so we can help you fill in any gaps you may have missed.
Pennsylvania Insurance and Car Accident Laws
After any car accident, you are likely going to deal with your insurance. All drivers are required to have insurance, and anyone caught driving while uninsured may face legal consequences. Pennsylvania is unique because it is a no-fault state that allows drivers to opt out of the no-fault system, depending on what kind of insurance they choose to carry. Your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit and what damages you can claim may depend on what kind of insurance you have. Call our Philadelphia car accident attorneys for help handling your insurance claims.
How Do Pennsylvania’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Affect My Case?
Under a no-fault insurance system, drivers injured in car accidents may be covered by their insurance no matter who caused the accident. This comes in handy when fault is not immediately apparent or if you caused your own accident. No-fault systems allow many drivers to get compensation for their accident faster than if they filed a lawsuit. It also prevents many lawsuits from being filed because drivers do not need to sue for damages. However, depending on what kind of insurance you have, you may opt out of the no-fault system.
Under the no-fault system, most of your medical bills and repair costs are covered by your insurance. However, your expenses are covered only up to a certain amount. If you have expenses beyond what is covered, you may have to cover them yourself if you are at fault. If you believe the other driver was at fault, you can file a lawsuit to claim damages from the other driver. The kind of insurance you have may determine what kind of damages you can claim in a lawsuit.
Full Tort vs. Limited Tort Insurance
Drivers may have the option of choosing full tort or limited tort insurance coverage. This difference is important to understand because it will influence the path your vase will take. According to 75 Pa. C.S. § 1705, limited tort coverage allows drivers to claim damages only for economic losses. This means out-of-pocket expenses like medical and repair bills are covered, but not non-economic losses like pain and suffering. On the other hand, full tort coverage does not limit drivers on what they may claim as damages. Under full tort coverage, you can claim any number of non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.
Full tort insurance may be beneficial if your accident was more serious and your injuries more long-term. Your pain and suffering should not be disregarded simply because they did not come with a price tag. However, bear in mind that full tort insurance is often more expensive than limited tort insurance. Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys can help you navigate your personal injury case no matter what kind of insurance you have.
What Types of Damages Can You Collect After a Car Accident?
When filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, you will need to prove damages. “Damages” is a legal term that refers to the injuries and losses, both financial and otherwise, encountered by the plaintiff. There are several types of damages that you may claim, each with its own limitations. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers can help you identify all the damages you can claim so you can get the most compensation possible.
Most damages that car insurance claims will pay are known as “economic damages” because they have a clear monetary value associated with them. The main two areas of economic damages that car accident victims face are medical bills and lost wages.
Medical bills for emergency transportation to the hospital, emergency care and surgeries, follow-up appointments with your doctor, and ongoing physical therapy or mental health counseling are all included in the economic damages you can claim in your case. These damages will vary from case to case, depending on what injuries you faced and what kind of care you reasonably needed to treat them. Our attorneys will be able to crack open your records and check with the hospital and your health insurance company to find out what expenses you paid and what future charges you might face for your injuries.
Lost wages are also a vital factor in your case. If your injuries are severe enough that you had to miss work, then you and your family could be without economic support when you need it most. If your injuries keep you from going back to work entirely or force you to go on disability, then you could be losing out on significant funds today and for the foreseeable future. Our auto accident lawyers work to calculate not only the past and present lost wages you face, but also the reduced earning capacity that will continue to affect you for years to come.
Economic damages can also include other costs and expenses you faced because of the accident, such as vehicle repairs, alternative transportation, childcare during medical appointments, payments for household services, and other damages linked to the crash.
If one area of damages is called “economic damages,” it makes sense that another is called “non-economic damages.” Where economic damages deal with bills, pay stubs, and other records of how much the damages cost you, non-economic damages pay you for things that do not have a clear monetary paper trail. The most common non-economic damages to claim in a car accident case in Philadelphia are pain and suffering damages.
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the experiences you faced, the physical pain of a bad injury, the emotional distress of the injury, the mental anguish associated with it, and more. One area of pain and suffering damages compensates victims for reduced enjoyment of various activities or an overall loss of enjoyment in their life. When injuries are especially severe and stop you from participating in fun activities like tennis or swimming – or when they prevent you from picking up your children or holding your spouse – these damages can be quite high.
Sometimes damages are awarded to victims in order to punish the at-fault parties. These damages are usually known as “punitive” or “exemplary” damages. They are not paid specifically to compensate damages like those for medical bills or pain and suffering, but rather to punish the at-fault parties for especially severe negligence or a pattern of negligence that continues to put others at risk.
Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in severe cases involving drunk driving, reckless driving, or road rage in order to punish a seriously dangerous driver. They are also sometimes awarded in cases against at-fault truck drivers and the dangerous companies that hire them.
If drivers repeatedly cause accidents and have a record of causing severe accidents, that could inspire the court to award their victims punitive damages as well. However, these damages are rare.
Our attorneys can help you determine whether punitive damages could be available in your case and how much we might be able to ask for.
Philadelphia Car Accident Statistics
Car accidents are fairly common occurrences thought Philadelphia and many other states and cities. However, no two car accidents are alike: each comes with its own unique details and challenges. Below are some statistics about how car accidents happen in Philadelphia, the kinds of injuries people sustain, and where accidents tend to happen. Call our Philadelphia car accident lawyers for more details.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Philadelphia
Car accidents happen under a variety of road and weather conditions. We are often more careful when driving through harsh conditions like snow, rain, or fog. However, according to recent statistics, the vast majority – approximately 81% – of accidents in Pennsylvania occur when there are no adverse conditions present. This may happen because drivers are less likely to drive carefully when they perceive roads as safer. In fact, wet roads only accounted for about 14% of accidents.
Crashes and collisions do not always happen because of road and weather conditions. They can also happen because of vehicle defects. Of all the crashes related to vehicle defects in 2020, about 38% were caused by tire and wheel problems, about 27% were related to brakes, and 16% involved steering system failures.
Common Injuries from Car Accidents in Philadelphia
In 2020, there were a total of over 61,000 car accident injuries reported. Of these injuries, over 4,000 were serious and over 30,000 were minor. Also in 2020, there were a little over 1,000 fatal crashes. The severity of these accidents seems to be indicative of their overall costs. More serious injuries result in higher total costs related to the accident. Fatal accidents had the highest costs. Overall, far more minor injuries were reported than serious ones, but that does not mean your accident is less likely to be serious. Call our Philadelphia car accident attorneys for help.
Most Common Locations for Car Accidents in Philadelphia
The frequency of car accidents may also vary based on location. In 2020, the majority of accidents happened on state highways that are not deemed interstates. Approximately 66,225 accidents happened on these roads. Another 26,596 accidents occurred on local roads throughout the state. The fewest accidents – about 1,978 – happened on turnpikes in Pennsylvania. Larger, busy roadways like interstates and turnpikes actually have fewer accidents than local roads and other state highways.
Types of Car Accident Cases We Handle
Hit and Run Accidents
Accidents are especially distressing when the driver who hit you flees the scene after the accident. It can be difficult to track down the defendant in these cases, and we may need to rely on eyewitnesses to find them. Your case may also be further complicated because a hit and run is a criminal offense, and your defendant may be criminally charged.
DUIs are charged when drivers are found operating their vehicles while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Ordinarily, you must have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% to be charged. However, you can still be charged with a lower BAC if you are so impaired that you cannot drive safely.
Texting While Driving
Almost all drivers today have a phone in their pocket while they are driving. Driving requires the full attention of the driver, and texting while driving can lead to serious accidents. Not only can texting and driving cause serious accidents, but it may also be met with traffic citations. If need be, we could use the defendant’s phone records to prove they were texting at the time of the accident.
Pedestrians might not be in the road, but they are still at risk of being hit by cars. Drivers sometimes lose control of their vehicles for a variety of reasons. A vehicle defect, like faulty brakes, could cause a driver to run off the road. Alternatively, a drunk driver could crash into a pedestrian on the sidewalk. You could sue for a car accident even if you were a pedestrian and not a driver.
If You or a Loved One Was Injured in a Car Accident, Call Our Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyers Today
You deserve to have all your expenses paid for by the person responsible for your injuries. Negligent and reckless drivers need to be held accountable if our roads are to remain safe. Schedule a free legal consultation with our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm. Call (215) 709-6940 to set up a meeting today.