Car accidents are a leading cause of injuries in the United States and Pennsylvania is no exception. In 2016, there were 129,395 reportable traffic crashes in Pennsylvania. These crashes claimed the lives of 1,188 people and injured another 82,971 people. Each day, there are approximately 355 reportable traffic crashes, with 227 people injured. Everyone should be entitled to seek compensation for the injuries they sustained in a car accident, but unfortunately many Pennsylvania residents are not aware of the different laws and statutes of limitations that come into play when bringing car accident claims. The relevant laws differ depending on the type of claim, and the compensation received by victims can also vary depending on the facts of the case. It’s essential to work with an experienced car accident attorney to maximize recovery.
At The Reiff Law Firm, our attorneys have over three decades of experience representing the rights of those who have been injured in car accidents. We can deliver on-point, strategic guidance on the proper type of claim to bring, as well as aggressive representation to those who need it. We have the experience and skill it takes to hold third parties responsible and get you the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call (215) 246-9000 to speak with one of our Philadelphia car accident injury attorneys today. We offer a confidential consultation completely free of charge.
Time Limits on Personal Injury Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
A statute of limitation is a law passed by a legislative body to set the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. When the statute of limitations has expired, a claim will likely be time-barred and denied, unless an exception applies. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of injury.
It’s important to keep in mind who the other parties to the lawsuit are, as the answer may change the applicable statute. If you are suing an individual, the 2-year SOL applies, but for injury claims against a city, county, or state government agency, a notice of intent to sue must be filed within 6 months. It is essential to be aware of these statutes. If you fail to get your lawsuit filed before the end of the two-year period, your right to compensation will be lost.
No-Fault Car Insurance in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania follows the no-fault system when it comes to car accidents. This essentially means that you cannot hold the other driver liable after the accident unless your case meets a “serious injury” threshold. After most minor accidents, an injured person’s own car insurance provider will provide coverage for medical expenses and lost income. Even though one driver may actually be at fault in a technical sense, legally it does not matter who was at fault.
However, it is possible to file a liability claim alleging fault against the other driver in some situations. If you can demonstrate “serious injury,” as mentioned above, you may be able to overcome the no-fault rules. An experienced car accident injury attorney can help you determine whether a court would view your injuries as serious and your likelihood of being able to step outside the no-fault rules.
Pennsylvania Shared Fault Rules
In certain personal injury cases, the person or business that you are filing a claim against can argue, under the doctrine of comparative negligence, that you are at least partially to blame for the incident that led to your injuries. If the court finds that you were to blame for your injury, the amount you are able to recover will be reduced by a certain percentage. Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative negligence rule, which means that the injured party will always recover something. This is in contrast to pure comparative negligence states, in which a person found at all responsible for their own injuries will be barred from recovering anything. Pennsylvania courts are obligated to follow this rule in an injury lawsuit that makes it to trial.
Caps on Injury Damages in Pennsylvania
Fortunately, there is no cap on the types of damages an injured person can receive for cases involving injury and death. Under Pennsylvania’s state constitution, the only limitation on damages is the state’s cap on punitive damages (damages meant to punish the defendant). Punitive damages are limited to two times the amount of actual damages in a personal injury case.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania
To ensure the best chance of recovery, it’s important to take the proper steps immediately following a car accident in Pennsylvania. Taking all of these steps as quickly as possible will be in your best interest for staying within the statute of limitations:
- Take pictures of the car accident scene, including all vehicles involved and the damage to your car.
- Review your insurance coverage, including the exclusions section, so you have a clear understanding of your coverage. Check for additional coverage under other insurance policies, such as homeowner and “umbrella” policies.
- Document conversations with the insurance company, including writing down names, phone numbers and job titles of the people with which you speak. Keep track of call times, subject matter and important information during phone calls.
- Seek medical treatment for injuries to identify any conditions, such as whiplash and soft tissue injuries, that may not become symptomatic until sometime after the accident.
- Document medical expenses, including medical bills, prescription costs and insurance co-pays. Out-of-pocket expenses related to medical care for your car accident injuries may be covered in some cases as well.
- Request medical records that are useful to prove injuries and preexisting conditions that may have been aggravated by the accident.
- Keep records of all accident-related items, including injuries and other related conversations, paperwork and expenses.
Retaining records and keeping everything organized is useful for any claims or lawsuits that result. It’s also beneficial to request multiple copies of documents for your attorney.
Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorney Today
Car accidents can be devastating to those involved. The injuries sustained in them can be serious, debilitating, and even fatal. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm. Our dedicated professionals have decades of experience fighting for those who have been hurt due to the negligence of others. Call (215) 246-9000 to speak with one of our Philadelphia car accident injury attorneys today. We offer a confidential consultation completely free of charge.