When to Call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer

Should I Call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer?

Can you recover damages for an accident?

Whether you should call a car accident lawyer is largely dependent on a number of factors, including what occurred, and what injuries the parties suffered. If you did not sustain any injuries, then it is unlikely that you will need to contact an attorney. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, you may find that you could use the services of an attorney to file a property damage claim.

If you or someone close to you suffered an injury in a car accident, then you should contact a lawyer about representing you in a lawsuit against anyone who may be liable for causing your injuries. You will likely recover damages, including compensation for your medical bills, potential future medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Contact a lawyer immediately if you have suffered a severe injury.

Severe injuries include, but are not limited to: broken bones, any injuries that require hospitalization or injuries that will probably result in permanent damage, such as paralysis. You should also call a lawyer if a fatality occurred as a result of the accident. While you may think you can handle a small claim by yourself, it would be better to entrust a large claim consisting of $15,000 or $20,000, or more, to a car accident lawyer.

Fault in Pennsylvania Car Accidents

Fault may be assigned to a single individual or divided as a matter of percentage between parties.

The Issue of Fault

Fault is one of the most important elements in a car accident case. The person at fault is the person who was negligent in causing the accident, and is usually held responsible for paying for the damage resulting from such negligence. If it is unclear as to who caused the accident, or if it is a case of shared fault, then there is an apportionment of fault between the parties. When there is shared liability in a car accident, the insurer decides the relative percentages of fault of the parties.

Following an accident, the insurance company claims adjuster will designate the relative degrees of fault on the basis of the circumstances under which the accident took place. You and the claims adjuster will arrive at an agreement regarding to what degree, if any, you are liable.

Determining Percentages

At this stage, a personal injury lawyer can assist you in deciding the percentages of fault. Your attorney will be adept at evaluating the accident and attempting to obtain the lowest percentage of fault on your behalf. If you and the insurance company are unable to reach an agreement, a court of law can help resolve the issue of who was at fault.

What if I Don’t Have Insurance?

If you have no car insurance, then it would be in your best interest to seek an attorney to advocate for your rights. You may also need legal counsel if your insurance company says that you did not pay your premium. When one or more parties to an accident has inadequate car insurance or no insurance, the issues can become complex, and require the expertise of a personal injury lawyer.

Other reasons for contacting a car accident lawyer

Some other reasons you may wish to contact a car accident lawyer are that the accident involved other parties, such as pedestrians or other motorists; the accident happened in a construction area; a police report does not provide an accurate description of the accident, and places you at fault; the accident involves significant technical, legal or medical issues, and you have low limits of liability insurance. It is especially important that you call an attorney if your insurer has legal representation.

Other Parties

Did the accident involve other people?

Circumstance

Did the accident occur in a work zone?

Inaccuracies

Does a police report inaccurately assign fault?

Technical Issues

Are there significant legal or medical issues?

Settling the Value of Your Claim

You may find it beneficial to consult a car accident lawyer if you need advice on settling the value of your claim. Your lawyer may be able to describe to you the best and worst case scenarios. Moreover, an attorney may advise you if you are uncertain as to whether other insurance, such as homeowners, travel, etc. could be available.

Dealing With an Insurer

Your lawyer may also determine whether your insurer could be acting in bad faith, or failing to operate in your best interests. It would be to your advantage to seek an attorney who is knowledgeable of effective ways in which to negotiate with your insurer; explain your rights to you; and clarify the terms of your policy, as well as paperwork or forms that can be complicated and perplexing.

Defining Serious Injury in Pennsylvania

Serious injury in Pennsylvania generally requires impairment of a bodily function or permanent and severe disfigurement.

Pennsylvania’s Unique Theory of Negligence

While most states operate under a traditional negligence theory, some states apply a no-fault theory of negligence. Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, in which the motorist generally looks to his or her own insurance policy to secure compensation for injuries. The maximum amount is the personal injury protection (PIP) limit regardless of who caused the accident.

However, in Pennsylvania, drivers also have the choice of purchasing no-fault insurance or traditional insurance coverage. If you choose to buy traditional insurance coverage, you can file a lawsuit against the motorist who was at fault. But if you are responsible for the accident, then you are subjecting yourself to the possibility of a lawsuit.

Serious Injury Standard

If you decide to proceed with no-fault insurance coverage, you can still file a claim or lawsuit against the other motorist, but only if the accident involved a “serious injury” in accordance with state law. “Serious injury” generally requires impairment of a bodily function or permanent and severe disfigurement, in keeping with recent court rulings in the state. The no-fault rules are only applicable to personal injury. If you have sustained property damage because of the accident, the at-fault motorist can still be held liable for those losses.

Knowledge of the Law and the Rules of Procedure

A car accident lawyer can be an asset to your case, particularly with respect to the applicable laws and procedural rules that could impact your lawsuit. A lawyer can inform you of any time limits, or statutes of limitations, that can prevent you from filing a lawsuit against the motorist who caused the accident. For instance, all states have restrictions on the length of time within which to file a lawsuit following an injury.

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date on which you suffer an injury. If you do not file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of two years from the time of injury, it is likely that the Pennsylvania court system will deny you the opportunity to present your case, and you will have forfeited your right to compensation. If you are filing a personal injury claim against a city, county, state or government agency, you are required to file a notice of intent to sue within six months of your injury.

Negotiating a Settlement

The possibility for a lawsuit to be filed by your attorney can provide you with leverage when negotiating a fair and equitable settlement. Having representation of a knowledgeable attorney levels the playing field, particularly when you are taking on a large insurance company with access to limitless resources and tremendous experience.

Your attorney will be able to handle the time-consuming work that is involved in filing a car accident claim. For example, your lawyer will acquire the evidence that is needed to support your claim, including amassing police reports, statements of witnesses, medical records and invoices, and information concerning employment and lost earnings.

The Settlement Demand Letter

Furthermore, your lawyer can organize the evidence and draft a settlement demand letter addressed to the insurance company or its counsel. A settlement demand letter is one of the most crucial steps in a car accident claim. In the letter, the lawyer for the injured party outlines the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident, medical treatment received, and an accounting of all medical bills and lost earnings. A well-written demand letter can frequently result in effective negotiations and eventually a favorable outcome of your claim.

Demanding Compensation from an Insurance Company

The process begins with a demand letter, continues with negotiations and can end with a lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer an adequate settlement.

1. Sending the Demand Letter and Receiving an Offer

Upon receipt of your demand letter, the insurance company representative will read it along with any accompanying documentation provided. Usually, the insurance company will make an introductory offer to settle the claim. However, this amount is typically less than what they have earmarked to pay your claim. Thus, you should not accept the first offer.

2. Countering the First Offer and Negotiations

Your attorney will likely draft a response declining the first offer along with an explanation as to why that offer is unacceptable. The conclusion of your attorney’s response will be a counter-demand. Because such back and forth negotiations may go on for some time, and could potentially reach an impasse, it is to your advantage to have a car accident lawyer advocate for your interests.

3. Filing a Lawsuit

If you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, your lawyer can file the paperwork that is needed to initiate a lawsuit. Having an attorney perform all of the work that filing a lawsuit entails can help ease the burden especially when you are recuperating from your injuries.

4. Going to Trial

A car accident lawyer can file a lawsuit for you, and will possess the requisite knowledge to achieve mitigation of any possible defenses introduced by the other side. In the event your case does not settle, your lawyer will have the necessary knowledge and expertise to skillfully prepare your case and go to trial on your behalf. Your lawyer is your advocate who acts for your benefit during the claims process and in court. As your champion, your lawyer will make certain that the judge, jury and other attorneys hear your version of events, which led up to and caused the accident that is the subject matter of the litigation.

You are more likely to recover damages for all of your losses if you are represented by a car accident lawyer.

If you were injured in a car accident, call MyPhillyLawyer at (215) 227-2727.

Get Your Free Case Consultation Today!

Contact our law firm today, we can help. It costs you nothing to learn about your legal rights, so why wait?