Car accidents happen—in fact, quite often. Pennsylvania saw nearly 120,817 car accidents throughout the state in 2016.
Philadelphia car accident cases resolve without issue when one driver admits fault—but not so easily when the parties debate who caused a collision and who should bear liability.
Why is Determining Fault Important?
Determining fault assigns liability to one or more drivers involved in an accident. Accidents are, of course, accidental. Still, many times they result from the negligence of one or more drivers.
Negligence is a legal term that is perhaps best understood by first evaluating one’s duty of care. The law expects every driver to maintain a duty of care toward the other drivers on our highways and city roads. The driver must drive in a safe manner and avoid causing harm to others. A negligent driver breaches that duty of care to other drivers.
What Causes Accidents?
Common causes of car accidents include:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving—when a driver diverts attention from the road by looking at a phone, eating, changing the music, or paying attention to anything other than driving—is a leading cause of today’s car accidents. (Nationwide, distracted driving killed almost 3,500 persons in 2015.)
- Speeding. Drivers who speed, traveling well over the posted speed limit, tend to give themselves less time and space to react—which can make the difference between avoiding an accident or causing one.
- Reckless driving. Drivers can cause accidents by driving recklessly—including by driving while under the influence, failing to observe traffic signs, making improper turns, or failing to account for weather conditions.
How is Fault Determined?
To determine which driver acted negligently, insurance agencies and their attorneys will look at various documents, including:
- Police reports. Police are required to prepare accident reports whenever they are called to accident scenes. A report will often include accounts of the accident as given by drivers, passengers, and other witnesses. It will also include a report as to what the police officer observed at the scene of the accident.
- Photos of the accident scene. Drivers should take pictures of the accident, both cars, and the surrounding area. Pictures can prove important in determining fault.
- Vehicle damage. Reports and photos help paint a picture of the accident. Looking at a damaged vehicle does provide a better opportunity for insurance companies and experts to determine fault. Assessing vehicle damage can either corroborate or counter accident accounts.
- Witness testimony. Witness testimony can play a pivotal role in determining fault. Witnesses, especially uninterested observers, can provide an unbiased account of the events that caused the accident. Witness can help determine whether a driver acted in a manner that caused the crash—for example, by speeding or weaving through traffic.
- Surveillance or camera footage. Sometimes, the best sources of information for determining fault can come from video recordings. Buildings with surveillance cameras may capture events that caused the accident, thus providing unbiased perspectives.
Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence
Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law provides another reason for parties to contest Philadelphia automobile accident cases. Pennsylvania law recognizes comparative negligence, a legal defense in which a plaintiff who drove negligently at the time of the accident can still recover compensation. However, comparative negligence is not a total defense. Under Pennsylvania law, negligent plaintiffs can recover damages only if they were less negligent than the defendants.
Insurance companies will want to contest liability to avoid having to pay compensation unless required. They will conduct careful and detailed reviews of the facts about the accident. If an insurance company concludes that a client was less negligent than the other driver, the insurance company may not feel obligated to pay damages. Thus, comparative negligence provides insurance companies with lifelines as they contest automobile cases.
Available Compensation in Automobile Accident Cases
Medical expense damages help a victim recover the costs of current and future medical expenses for accident-related injuries. This can also include the costs of rehabilitation.
Pain and suffering damages compensate a victim for non-monetary losses. Specifically, these damages provide compensation for both the physical and emotional pain that a victim may suffer as a result of an accident.
An accident may render a victim unable to return to work, whether temporarily or permanently. The victim may recover damages for lost wages based on earning capacity
Contact a Philadelphia Automobile Accident Attorney Today
If an automobile accident injured you or a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is a contested case. Rather, you deserve to recover from your injuries without further headaches. You deserve the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you.
After you recover from your injuries, seek experienced legal counsel to help recover compensation. The skilled automobile accident attorneys at The Levin Firm have experience handling these cases. We will review your case and help create and implement a legal strategy designed to help you obtain the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or visit our website.