September 5, 2019

What to Do After a Philadelphia Car Accident

Car Accident Attorney in Philadelphia

During 2017, there were 15 reportable crashes on a Pennsylvania roadway every hour, many of them in the state’s population center of Philadelphia. During this time, there were nine injuries every hour, with one out of every 44 people being involved in an accident, and one out of every 159 injured. These numbers should worry all of us, because it demonstrates the risk we are taking every day on the road. Because of the emotional and physical trauma associated with a car accident, you should know what steps you should take immediately following a car accident.   A trusted auto accident attorney can help you determine what the best course of actions to receive compensation.

 

Address Safety Issues

When a car accident occurs in traffic, whenever possible, the vehicles involved should get out of the road and pull over to the shoulder. Make sure before you exit your car that it is safe to do so, and to make a mental note of where on the roadway the accident occurred. Further impeding traffic at the scene of a car accident can result in additional cars being involved.

 

Verify Everyone Involved Is in Good Condition

If your own injuries allow it, check on the status of all passengers and drivers involved in the accident. When doing this, do not apologize for the accident, make any statement that might indicate you are at fault, or verbally attack the other drivers. Contact law enforcement and EMS immediately, but remain cautious about any statement that would indicate you are partially responsible for the accident. Remember, the insurance company could later use this information against you.

 

Obtain Contact Information

You should obtain as much contact information as witnesses and passengers are willing to share with you while you are waiting for law enforcement officers to arrive on the scene. Insurance adjusters or law enforcement officers may be contacting them for statements for their perspective on the accident. Additionally, you should obtain from any drivers involved in the accident their driver’s license information, insurance information, and the make and model of their vehicle. This information will need to be provided to your insurance company or used to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.

 

Documenting the Scene of Accident

The accident scene should be carefully documented. If you have a cell phone capable of taking photographs, and you are physically able to do so, you should snap photos including damage to any involved vehicles, traffic signals, nearest intersection photographs, weather conditions, and any skid marks or debris left in the road (glass, etc.) from the accident. This information may be valuable later to your insurance company, or to a car accident attorney. You may also wish to document any injuries which you notice at the scene, for example, if a passenger or driver is visibly injured it may be helpful later to have this information.

 

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Assuming you did not suffer a serious injury, which would likely mean you were unable to attend to the prior steps, you should seek medical attention. You may be seen by a local emergency room physician or contact your own doctor and be seen as soon after the accident as possible. This step is crucial since oftentimes after an accident you may not be fully aware of potential injuries. This is a result of the fact that your body has an automatic response to trauma and floods your system with adrenaline, making it harder to recognize pain or injury. When you see a physician, let them know you were involved in a car accident so they can thoroughly examine you. Doctors know what signs to look for which may indicate you have an internal injury or soft tissue damage that is not readily evident.

 

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

Once a physician sees you, contact a Philadelphia attorney who has experience dealing with victims of car accidents. While your initial instinct may be to contact your insurance company, a personal injury attorney should be contacted first to ensure your rights are protected through the remainder of the accident process. An insurance company adjuster is going to ask you several questions which could ultimately result in your receiving a smaller financial settlement than you might otherwise be entitled to based on the severity of your injuries. Some of the matters an attorney can advise you about include:

  • Advising you regarding what to say to the insurance company
  • Advising you of what questions to avoid answering when speaking with an adjuster
  • Advising you of your rights when answering law enforcement questions about the accident

 

Keep in mind, if you are a victim of a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Negligence is established in the event the other driver was not following rules of the road, or they were distracted, which contributed to the accident occurring. A personal injury attorney can help establish certain facts, including the other driver’s negligence, contributed to the accident, the injuries you suffered were as a result of the accident, and the driver at fault had an obligation, known as a duty of care, to keep you and others on the road safe while traveling on the road.

 

File an Accident Report

Per Pennsylvania statute Pa.C.S.A. Vehicles § 3747 law enforcement officers may not respond to the scene of a minor accident. However, this means the burden of filing a proper accident report falls upon the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident. After a Philadelphia car accident, drivers have a maximum of five days to report the incident to the Pennsylvania DOT, Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering. The official accident form should be used and as much information as possible should be provided on this form. You should maintain a copy of the form you submit for your records.

 

Importance of Recording Information After an Accident

Victims of car accidents often believe after they have seen a physician and filed an accident report, they do not need to document any further information. This is inaccurate since there may be situations which require you to document additional items. Some of these may include interactions with insurance company adjusters, follow up medical care, and time lost from work. Keep in mind, if you have hired a personal injury attorney, you should consider having them speak with any insurance company on your behalf. Otherwise, the insurance company may try to obtain information, which on the surface seems innocent enough, to reduce the potential benefits you are entitled to receive as a result of your injuries.

 

You should also consider documenting any incidents which seem out of the ordinary after your accident. For example, if you suddenly begin having headaches, dizzy spells, or are unusually tired, these could be symptoms of injuries which were sustained in a car accident which have been masked. Any physical or emotional changes should be carefully noted and shared with your physician immediately.

 

Choice No-Fault Car Insurance

In Pennsylvania, all drivers are required to maintain a minimum level of automobile insurance. Failure to maintain proper insurance could result in steep fines, as well as the loss of driving privileges. Drivers are required to have at least $15,000 in liability insurance which covers injuries to one person and a minimum of $30,000 per accident. Many drivers carry more liability insurance, but this is the minimum they may carry.

 

No-fault insurance means that when you are in an accident on Philadelphia roadways, you will file your claim with your own insurance company. However, keep in mind that some drivers may opt out of no-fault coverage since Pennsylvania is one of three states which offer “choice no-fault.”

 

Drivers who elect may carry tort liability which means a person who is injured by a negligent driver may file a lawsuit without filing a claim with their own insurance agency first. If the at-fault driver has no-fault coverage, the victim of a car accident would file their claim with their own insurance company, and they would be subject to the limitations on that policy. Should expenses including medical, lost wages, damage to your vehicle, and other monetary and non-monetary losses be larger than the maximum coverage amount, you could then file a personal injury lawsuit.

 

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The statutes of limitations prevent victims of a Philadelphia car accident from filing a lawsuit once two years have elapsed from the time of the accident except under very specific circumstances. If you were seriously injured, you may still be out of work, or still receiving treatment for your injuries but since time is of the essence, your attorney may begin the paperwork to file a lawsuit. In general, victims of a car accident may be eligible for compensation for both monetary and non-monetary damages.

 

Non-monetary damages, also known as non-economic damages, can include money for mental anguish, a diminished quality of life, disfigurement or impairment, as well as pain and suffering. Your Philadelphia personal injury attorney can explain to you how these damages will be calculated so you understand the possible outcome of a personal injury lawsuit.

 

Monetary damages, also known as economic damages, are easier to calculate in most cases. For example, the costs associated with your medical treatment after a car accident would be calculated based on charges incurred as a result of doctor’s visits, costs associated with tests and treatment, and costs associated with medications you may have been prescribed as a result of the pain you suffered due to the injury.

 

Other monetary damages may include lost wages, both current and future, the direct costs associated with any type of rehabilitation therapy you may require to recover from your injury and any costs which you would not have had to deal with associated with your recovery, such as the hiring of a nurse, housekeeper, or babysitter. Costs associated with the repair or placement of your vehicle as a result of the accident are generally also recoverable.

 

Car accidents can be devastating for a victim resulting in injuries which can lead to long-term health issues. Victims often are unaware of their rights following an accident, and many drivers on Philadelphia roadways are unfamiliar with what steps they should take to ensure they can present clear and undeniable evidence of the damage to their vehicle, physical trauma and injury, and their lack of involvement in the cause of the accident.

 

Unfortunately, too often, victims simply contact their insurance company and hope for the best. Remember, insurance companies do collect premiums from you as payment towards your insurance coverage. However, that does not mean they are always interested in protecting your best interests since their bottom line is damaged when they pay an auto accident claim. Therefore, you should contact a personal injury lawyer anytime you are involved in a car accident on Philadelphia roadways.

 

If you are one of the hundreds of accident victims who sustained an injury in a Philadelphia car accident, you can make sure your rights are protected by contacting a Philadelphia car accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

September 4, 2019

What to Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

After An Accident thats not your Fault | Levin Firm

As drivers, we do our best to stay safe on the road. We fasten our seat belts, follow the traffic laws, and stay alert for possible dangers. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, hundreds of auto accidents occur in Pennsylvania every day. Thankfully, the majority of these accidents do not result in significant injuries.

 

An auto accident can be an emotional experience. It’s natural to feel anger, confusion, pain, and an array of other emotions. It’s easy to become overwhelmed after an accident. But it’s important to understand the steps that you need to take after an accident that’s not your fault. Failing to act appropriately after an accident can significantly affect an experienced auto accident attorney‘s ability to seek fair compensation.

 

Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been in an accident, it can be easy to choose to file a claim and move on from the accident as quickly as possible. However, this is usually not the best choice. Even minor accidents can have long-lasting effects. What you thought was just a sore neck may actually be a herniated disc that can cause you lifelong pain. And while you think that the settlement that you received from the insurance company seems fair, it typically won’t account for your pain or any future medical treatments.

 

While most drivers can handle the repair of their vehicle without an attorney, they often underestimate the time and knowledge it takes to get fair compensation for their injuries. A personal injury attorney who has experience with auto accidents can help you determine whether you are undervaluing the extent of your injuries. In Pennsylvania, drivers only have a limited time to file a personal injury claim, meaning that if you realize that ongoing pain you have is from an accident you had a few years ago, you won’t be able to recover any damages. Your injuries matter and should not be taken lightly. An experienced personal injury lawyer can take care of the insurance companies while you focus on your recovery.

 

Never Leave the Scene of an Accident Without Stopping

It goes without saying that if you are involved in an auto accident, regardless of the level of damage, you should never leave without talking to the other driver. Failure to stay at the scene of an accident is a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. Regardless of who is at fault, both drivers have a duty to ensure that all parties are okay and that neither party wishes to exchange insurance information. Depending on how bad the accident was, you may need to call the police and/or file a police report.

 

Gather Necessary Information

If you were in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, and if your injuries permit, try to collect information that will support your claim. In many cases, the other party may try to deny blame for the collision and in almost all cases, their insurance company will try to assign some of the blame to you and muddle the facts. The more information you have to support your side of the story, the better. Information that you should get before you leave the scene includes:

  • Insurance information: The other party’s insurance information is arguably the most important information you should get after an accident. Without this information, you will be solely reliant on your insurance. If possible, take a picture of the other party’s insurance information. Be sure to get both the front and back of their card. If you are unable to take a picture, be sure to write down the driver’s name, the name of the insurance company, the policy number, and a contact number.
  • The driver’s contact information: Your insurance company will want to talk to the other driver. You can help facilitate the process by exchanging contact information with the other driver. A name and phone number are usually sufficient.
  • Pictures: Pictures can be vital to proving your case when it comes to making a claim. Be sure to take pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident, paying particular attention to areas of damage. It is also helpful to take a picture of the license plate in case the other party later tries to claim that their car was not involved in the accident. Be sure to get a picture of the whole car as well. If there is property damage or skid marks, take pictures of these if you can safely do so. Essentially, anything you believe can help prove your case, take a picture of it.
  • Witnesses: If there were witnesses to the crash and they stopped at the scene, be sure to get their contact information. Your insurance company will want to talk to them.

 

Seek Medical Treatment if Needed

Injuries are not always obvious after an auto accident. If you feel abnormal pain, have a headache, or have any other symptoms of an injury, you need to seek immediate medical attention. If you or the other party has sustained serious injuries, call 911. If you have non-emergent injuries, an urgent care facility is often best for treatment. You will be able to get prompt attention without immediately exhausting your PIP insurance. If your injuries require further treatment, the urgent care facility will refer you to the hospital or another care provider.

 

When you arrive at the medical facility, the representative at the admission desk may ask for both your auto insurance and your private medical insurance. The office will try to bill your auto insurance first. If the facility bills your private insurance, a personal injury attorney can help you get this amount reimbursed by the other party’s insurance.

 

Tell the truth about your injuries and your accident when you talk to the medical staff. Everything that you say could end up in your medical report, which will become part of your personal injury claim if you decide to pursue a claim against the other party. Do not exaggerate or try to tough it out and understate your injuries. Your statements immediately following the accident will form some of the most important information regarding your injury claim.

 

Understanding Your Own Car Insurance

Far too often, people put off medical treatment or car repairs because they don’t understand what their insurance covers. Even if an accident is not your fault, your own insurance can jump in and help you get back on your feet. Different types of coverage may be available to you, depending on what you signed up for when your policy was written. If you have been in an accident, your policy may include:

  • First-party medical benefits: In Pennsylvania, all drivers must carry at least $5,000 medical benefits coverage. Many times, drivers choose to increase this coverage to a higher amount. This means, if you are in an accident, you can go directly to the doctor and seek treatment under your own PIP policy.
  • Rental car: If your car has been seriously damaged, you will likely need to send it to an auto repair shop. Most repair shops do not give you a free rental car when your car is in the shop. If you have elected to add rental coverage to your policy, you can get reimbursed for the cost of your rental, up to your policy limits.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Coverage: Although the law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, some drivers still elect to drive uninsured. If you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, your UM/UIM coverage can help cover the costs of your recovery.

 

A Pennsylvania Auto Accident Attorney Can Help You Recover Damages

When you have been injured in an accident, the only thing you want to do is get back to how you were before the accident. Unfortunately, insurance companies can make this hard. You shouldn’t have to spend your time dealing with insurance companies, fighting for fair compensation, when you should be recovering. An experienced personal injury can evaluate your claim and help you understand your rights. Insurance companies consider several different factors when determining an appropriate settlement offer including:

  • Medical bills: Your PIP insurance is often not enough to cover your medical bills. If you have exhausted your PIP coverage, your doctor may work with you to bill your charges to your personal injury claim or you may need to use your personal insurance. A personal injury attorney can help you recover costs for doctor visits, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation, and medical supplies. If your injuries are substantial, this may include future costs.
  • Lost wages: If your injury causes you to miss time at work, you may be entitled to lost wages. Lost wages typically apply to any lost time due to the accident itself or treatment or recovery related to the accident. This includes time missed for doctors visits, surgeries, and rehabilitation.
  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is a broad term to cover non-economic losses. Pain from injuries can last long after the accident occurred. Additionally, if your injuries have caused you to be unable to participate in activities you were able to before the accident, you deserve to be compensated. Pain and suffering can include physical pain, emotional stress, loss of enjoyment, and other non-specific injuries.

 

What You Say Is Important

There will be several people that you will talk to after an accident. Starting from your first interaction with the other driver, everything that you say matters. The goal of an insurance company is to pay out as little as possible. Consequently, they will try to use anything you say against you. Never admit blame to an accident. If you apologize, say things like “I didn’t see you” or discuss the extent of your injuries with the other driver, the insurance company will document this information.

 

If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, whether it is your own or someone from the other party’s insurance, all communication should be directed to your attorney. Insurance companies have been known to use manipulative tactics to implicate a party when no fault exists.

 

You also must talk to your doctor with complete honesty about your injuries. This will allow your provider to give you the best level of care and will help preserve your personal injury claim. Be sure to disclose all injuries. If you have new pain, headaches, tingling, or numbness, let your doctor know. At the same time, do not play up your injuries in hopes of securing a larger settlement. Not only is this unethical, but exaggerated injuries can lessen your credibility and actually lead to a lower settlement.

 

Finally, watch your social media activity. Don’t think that the other party’s insurance won’t see those pictures of you kayaking or read the posts of you bragging about how much you lifted at the gym. It’s the job of the insurance company to create doubt about your injuries.

 

A Car Accident Attorney Might Help

It’s easy to become overwhelmed after a car accident. Insurance companies know this and frequently take advantage of a victim’s confusion, lack of understanding of the law, and desire to put the accident behind them. Unfortunately, this means that most insurance companies will offer far less to drivers that do not have an attorney than they do to those represented by a personal injury lawyer.

 

If you were in an auto accident or have further questions regarding auto accident claims, contacting an experienced motor vehicle crash attorney can help you understand your best options for moving forward.

August 30, 2019

Common Types of Car Accidents in Philadelphia

Types of Auto Accidents in Philly

Car crashes are so common that we think of them as part of everyday life. Yet for those involved in them, each car crash is traumatic and dangerous.

Car insurance experts estimate that the average driver will file a claim for a car accident about once every 17.9 years or about three to four accidents during your driving life. Industry experts who analyze car accidents track many factors. Because accidents occur in so many different ways, with overlapping causes, statistics often look at contributing causes, rather than one cause of any given car accident. The goal of this type of research and statistics, such as that performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Vehicle Safety Research, is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

 

Motor Vehicle Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, which is the first decline since 2014. Fatalities decreased for many types of accidents, including those involving impaired driving and accidents related to speeding.

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that in 2017, there were 128,188 reportable traffic crashes and 1,137 traffic accident deaths in Pennsylvania. At least three people died in traffic accidents each day, on average. Approximately 9 percent of these accidents and 8 percent of the fatalities took place in Philadelphia.

 

Many types of accidents happen on Pennsylvania roads, but some are more frequent than others. Most accidents took place when drivers crashed into fixed objects, such as trees or guard rails. Other common types of accidents included rear end collisions and angled collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, failure to stay in the proper lane, and failure to yield the right of way were also common, accounting for almost 15 percent of all drivers in fatal crashes. Common types of car accidents include:

  • Hit fixed object 37,825 crashes; 402 fatalities. Drivers frequently hit trees, utility poles, and traffic barriers. Alcohol is often involved and about fifty percent of these crashes occur at night.
  • Angle crashes 34,823 crashes; 247 fatalities. These crashes usually take place in parking lots or when two vehicles pass on a road.
  • Rear end crashes 28,786 crashes; 81 fatalities. A traffic accident where a vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it. These often take place because the driver is distracted or simply not paying attention. Other causes include sudden stops and reduced traction due to irregular road conditions caused by weather.
  • Sideswipe crashes 8,357 crashes; 62 fatalities. Sideswipe accidents happen when two vehicles are driving next to one another in the same direction collide. These accidents often occur when a driver makes a lane change without being sure the other lane is clear.
  • Head on crashes 4,715 crashes; 122 fatalities. Head on crashes happen when two vehicles going in opposite directions have a front end collision. These accidents are often fatal.
  • Non-collision crashes 4,234 crashes; 66 fatalities. These situations happen when a vehicle crashes without hitting something, or where the injuries were not caused by the impact, such as overturns, jackknifes, or fires.
  • Car/pedestrian crashes 3,970 crashes; 136 fatalities. When a vehicle hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is almost always the most severely injured.
  • Backing up crashes 410 crashes; 1 fatality. Back-up collisions happen when a driver reverses the car into an object, person, or another car.
  • Other crashes 5,068 crashes; 20 fatalities

 

TOTAL crashes 128,188 crashes; 1,137 fatalities.

 

Pre-Crash Events

Researchers also investigate the pre-crash event, which means the vehicle movements and the critical event that occurred immediately before a crash. Approximately 36 percent of the vehicles were turning or crossing intersections just before the collision. About 22 percent of the vehicles ran off the edge of the road and 11 percent failed to stay in their lane. About 9 percent lost control of their vehicle before the crash.

 

Driver Behaviors

Driver behavior contributes to an overwhelming number of accidents. Overall, the following causes are some of the most common driver behaviors that contribute to many accidents across Pennsylvania and the nation:

 

Speeding

Speeding is a top behavior factor for drivers involved in fatal crashes. In 2017, 9,717 people, or 26 percent of drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that increasing state speed limits over the past 25 years have caused nearly 37,000 fatalities. Not all speeding accidents happen on the highway. Driving too fast can be dangerous anywhere. Speeding accidents also happen when the driver is going too fast for road conditions, such as heavy traffic or slippery roads.

 

Driving Under the Influence

Alcohol, drugs, and medication affect brain functions such as judgment, concentration, coordination, vision, and reaction time, all of which are essential to good driving skills. DUI accidents are extremely dangerous. The impaired driver may be unable to mitigate the effects of the crash. Often, the drunk driver is uninjured while others involved in the accident suffer serious or fatal injuries—5,592 drivers, or about 11 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes, were driving under the influence.

 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone. Distracted driving accidents generally account for 9 to 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States. Distractions include activities such as talking or texting on cellphones, talking with passengers, eating while driving, adjusting vehicle controls, fiddling with the radio, or even daydreaming. Anything that causes you to either take your attention away from driving, take your eyes off of the road or take your hands off of the wheel is a distraction. Distracted driving primarily affects drivers aged 20 to 29.

 

Other statistics point out that 1 in 4 crashes often involve cell phone use, and that around 33 percent of drivers report having taken time to read or write a text while driving. Although it is not illegal to talk on the phone while driving, Pennsylvania law prohibits as a primary offense any driver from using “an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion.”

 

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving kills — it claimed 795 lives in 2017. Many people work long hours, have long commutes and complicated lives. Consequently, there are a lot of tired drivers on the road. Drowsy driving accidents often involve a single driver on the highway or rural road, who runs off the road, apparently without braking.

 

Driver Errors

Errors of one kind or another contribute to almost every accident. Drivers may have obscured vision due to rain, glare, or other circumstances. Drivers may become confused and drive the wrong way down a one-way street, go straight in a turn-only lane, run a red light, or fail to obey other traffic signals or laws. Some driving errors may be considered careless or reckless driving, but such errors can lead to car crashes.

 

Reducing the Risk of Car Accident Injuries and Fatalities

Everyone wants to avoid traffic accidents, but when they happen, safety devices can reduce injuries and save lives.

  • Airbags: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, front airbags have been required in all new passenger vehicles since the 1999 model year. Combined with seatbelts, airbags are highly effective safety protection, reducing the likelihood of fatal injuries for front-seat passengers by 45 percent.

 

  • Seatbelts: Seatbelts dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury and death. For vehicle occupants age five and older, seatbelts saved about 14,955 lives in 2017.

 

  • Child safety seats: NHTSA says that in 2017 the lives of an estimated 325 children under the age of five were saved by restraints. Under Pennsylvania law, children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle; children under two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows size limits of the seat and children from age four up to age eight must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.

 

  • Motorcycle helmets: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, helmets greatly reduce motorcyclist fatalities and head injuries. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017. Pennsylvania law requires anyone operating or riding a motorcycle must wear a helmet unless they are over the age of 21 and have either two years of riding experience or has completed an approved motorcycle safety course.

 

  • Electronic stability control (ESC): All vehicles manufactured after 2012 must have electronic stability control, which aids in preventing rollovers and other types of crashes. This technology helps drivers maintain stability and control of their vehicle during tricky steering maneuvers, even when the vehicle is at risk of losing traction. It automatically controls the brakes and engine power.

 

Were You Injured in a Pennsylvania Car Accident?

When you are involved in a car accident, your first concern should be your own well-being and getting the medical care you need. Then you wonder exactly what happened and who is responsible. If you have been injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, you may be legally entitled to recover compensation from the at-fault driver. The car accident laws of Pennsylvania will govern your lawsuit.

 

Personal injury law is generally based on negligence. The legal theory of negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

 

It may consist of actions, but in some circumstances may also consist of omissions. Simply put, the law of negligence requires a driver to operate the vehicle with reasonable care. A driver who fails to do so is negligent and can be held liable for any resulting injuries. Damages may include claims for current and future medical expenses, lost wages or diminished employment opportunities, pain and suffering, or loss of affection (also called “loss of consortium”).

 

Pennsylvania’s car insurance law is more complex than most state laws. Pennsylvania has adopted a unique choice “no-fault” system for car accidents and insurance claims. When someone purchases insurance, they must choose between two types of insurance coverage. These are full tort or limited tort (no-fault). Under the no-fault option, in most cases, if the person is in an accident, they will not be able to file a lawsuit to get compensation. Instead, they will file a claim with their own insurance provider, even if they were not at fault.

 

What if you file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries suffered in a car crash, but you are partially at fault. In that situation, Pennsylvania’s comparative fault laws may affect your case. These laws dictate how much you can recover in a crash that you were partially to blame for, or even whether you will be allowed to recover anything, at all. Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative negligence law. This law allows you to recover damages as long as the amount of your fault was not greater than that of the other driver.

 

Recovering a large monetary award for your damages cannot give you back your loved ones or the life you had before suffering a severe injury. But it can help you face the financial consequences of your accident and give you the best possible future. All states have time limits for filing lawsuits.

 

Under Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for cases that stem from personal injuries or property damage suffered in a car accident, you must file your lawsuit before it expires. These limits are applied strictly, so complying with this rule is critical because if you fail to file your case before the time limit ends you will probably lose your right to file a claim for the accident. Therefore, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

August 29, 2019

What To know About Tire Blowouts

 

Dangers of Tire Blowouts | Levin Injury Firm

Tire-related accidents caused 738 deaths on U.S. roads in 2017, the last year for which statistics are available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), out of the total 34,247 fatalities and nearly 1.9 million injuries. Although tire-related accidents are a small percentage of the total, any vehicle accident constitutes a tragedy for victims and their loved ones.

 

Accidents caused by tire blowouts are some of the most deadly on the road, because of the risk of collision and the possibility that the blowout will cause the car or other vehicles to spin into other lanes of traffic or off the road.

 

What Happens if My Tires Blow Out?

A blown-out tire is exactly what the term sounds like: a piece of the tire essentially explodes, leaving a hole in the tire. As a result, the tire loses pressure and rapidly deflates.

 

The amount of air pressure in a tire is a crucial element in the proper operation of your car. A tire with a hole in it can make driving a vehicle difficult and, frankly, dangerous. A vehicle with a blown tire almost always starts to slow down. The steering wheel may shake or become harder to steer, depending on the speed at which the car was traveling when the tire blew.

 

If you experience a tire blowout, you should let the vehicle decelerate naturally while gradually steering it to a safe place, out of traffic, and off the road. It is human nature to react when a car slows or becomes difficult to drive, however, some drivers may inadvertently hit the brakes or attempt to turn the vehicle off the road quickly to get out of traffic or simply to come to a safe place where the driver can get out and look at the damage. Both can potentially cause the vehicle to spin.

 

If a vehicle spins, of course, the occupants may sustain injuries by being bounced around, knocked against other elements of the car, or spinning into traffic or against an obstacle, such as a guard rail. Spinning can also cause a vehicle to cross lanes, potentially hitting other cars in that lane, or cause a vehicle to spin off the road entirely. The car may strike pedestrians or damage personal property.

 

A blown tire may also make a noise. If the noise is audible to you as well as other drivers or pedestrians, they may panic and drive improperly, causing other accidents.

 

Once the tire has exploded, it may throw tread or other material from the tire into the roadway. The debris may hit other vehicles, remain on the road as obstacles causing further accidents, or hit pedestrians.

 

Finally, a blown tire can affect your tire’s rim. A properly inflated tire protects the rim. However, driving on a blown tire for too long will start to affect the shape of the rim, eventually requiring its replacement. This, too, can make the car unable to drive at normal traffic speeds and may affect the driver’s steering ability. No driver should operate on a blown tire for long. It’s best to replace the blown tire with a spare tire as soon as possible until you can get the vehicle in for a full repair. You should only use the spare tire as long as is necessary, as many spares are not fully the same size or as sturdy as regular tires.

 

What Causes Blown-Out Tires?

Multiple factors can cause or contribute to blown-out tires. Among the causes are:

  • Inadequate maintenance. It’s important to rotate your tires frequently and replace them when necessary. Rotation ensures even wear on each part of the tire; without periodic rotation, tires will become more worn in specific areas. If they aren’t replaced when necessary, they also become worn. You should also inspect your tire treads regularly, to ensure that they meet thickness requirements. Excessively worn tires or thin treads can make a blowout more likely, especially if your car runs over a sharp object, such as a nail, or hits a pothole.
  • Underinflation. All tires have an ideal air pressure. Federal law has required a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on all cars, SUVs, and pick-ups since 2007, but these cars only issue an alarm if the system senses severe underinflation. As a result, a tire can blow without the issuance of an alert. Underinflation causes tires to overheat, which often leads to a blowout.
  • Overinflation. Overinflation can cause your tires to wear unevenly and faster than they would normally. Wear can lead to a blowout.
  • Installing the wrong type/size of tire. Tires are not one size fits all products. If drivers need to replace the tires that the manufacturer placed on the car, they need to make sure that the new tires fit the vehicle. Most owner’s manuals specify the tire size needed.
  • Heavy loads. Vehicles are manufactured with a specific load-bearing capacity in mind. If that’s significantly exceeded, it places too much pressure on the tires, which can result in a blowout. Vehicle information usually includes the Gross Vehicular Weight Rating, which provides the acceptable loads that a vehicle can carry.
  • Slow leaks. Running over a sharp object, such as a screw or nail, can puncture a tire. These punctures don’t necessarily cause a tire to blow immediately. Tires are not as fragile as balloons. However, a slow leak will cause a tire to deflate, and the combination of a small puncture and deflation will eventually cause a blowout.
  • Defective tires. Unfortunately, sometimes tires on the market are defective, and these defects may increase the risk of blowouts. Safety recalls of tires are generally accomplished via communications with the owners of either the vehicle that had the defective tire installed originally or owners of tires bought to replace originally installed ones. Drivers are usually told what the issue is and told what to do to replace the tires. Not all drivers may receive or actually listen to these communications, however. You can check to see if your call has been the subject of a recall by looking up a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) on the NHTSA website. VINs are usually carried on the dashboard on the driver’s side.
  • Hot weather. Excessive heat is no friend to tires. The majority of tire blowouts happen in hot weather, from mid-May to early October. Hot roadways can make tires overheat and blow, especially if they are older or stressed by other factors, such as heavy vehicle loads. People usually drive for longer during warmer months, as well.
  • Road maintenance or conditions. Roads with potholes or other hazards can cause a tire to blow. At times, the impact of hitting a pothole or hazard can compress the internal elements of the tire and damage them. A severe impact can slice or damage the fabric and rubber that makeup tires, causing them to blow.

 

What Injuries Can a Blown-Out Tire Accident Cause?

A tire blow out can cause vehicle accidents of many different types, ranging from minor ones—perhaps a tailgating car bumps your rear fender as you attempt to drive your car off the road—to a catastrophic one, in which a huge 18-wheeler spins across multiple lanes of traffic. The latter accident can lead to vehicle pile-ups and multiple injuries and fatalities, including catastrophic injuries—such as quadriplegia and crush injuries.

 

As a result, a wide range of injuries is possible, including:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI)
  • Severe lacerations
  • Crush injuries, such as nerve damage
  • Head injuries
  • Fractures
  • Loss of limb
  • Burns
  • Sprains
  • Damage to soft tissue
  • Death

 

Who Is Responsible for Injuries in a Tire Blowout Accident?

All vehicle drivers are responsible for safely operating their vehicles and driving according to traffic laws. Drivers are also responsible for the safe maintenance of their vehicles, including regular tune-ups and repairs. Drivers owe other drivers and pedestrians a duty of care to drive safely. Drivers who violate principles of safe operation or laws have failed in their duty of care, and a court may hold them responsible if such violations caused an accident. Breaching a duty of care constitutes negligence, and courts can hold negligent parties liable for injuries that their negligence causes.

 

However, driver error is not the only possible cause of a blowout accident, of course. If defective road conditions, such as deep potholes, caused a tire blowout, a court may hold the authority responsible for maintaining the road responsible for the accident. If a vehicle like a commercial truck was overloaded, and the tire blowout resulted from the overload, the company responsible for loading the truck could be responsible. If a driver took a vehicle in for regular maintenance, the shop performing the work may bear responsibility for failing to notice problems in tire pressure, for not inflating the tires to the right pressure, or for other oversights that led to the tire blowout.

 

Several parties may bear fault in an accident. A severe rear-end accident, for example, may have been partially caused by a tire blowout and partially caused by the driver in back violating the speed limit. Pennsylvania law has a comparative negligence rule, under which both parties can share liability, but a court will reduce any damage award by the injured party’s percentage of negligence. In other words, if a court determines that an injured party was 25 percent responsible for the accident, the court would reduce the damages award by 25 percent. If a court determines that a victim was 51 percent or more responsible, he or she cannot recover any damages.

 

In a severe accident, it may be necessary to investigate the causes to fully know and understand what caused an accident, and that’s the first step toward knowing who is responsible. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to determine which parties to go after for compensation.

 

Pennsylvania Law and Injuries in an Accident

If another party caused an accident in which you or a loved one sustained an injury, can you bring a suit against them? The law in Pennsylvania is somewhat complex.

 

Injuries from an accident are covered under no-fault insurance. “No-fault” means that you bring a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to seek compensation for injuries (bills from doctor’s and other healthcare providers, for example). Pennsylvania requires mandatory medical coverage for $5,000. Your own PIP insurance will also compensate you for lost wages due to the accident.

 

However, Pennsylvania drivers do have the option to opt-out of no-fault. Drivers choose either a limited tort option, under which you could bring a claim against another party for economic damages but not for pain or suffering. If you choose the full-tort option, you have unlimited rights to bring a claim.

 

There are two main types of damages that victims of vehicle accidents can seek under Pennsylvania law, subject to the no-fault insurance rules above. The first, economic or “special” damages, are for financial costs a victim has suffered as a result of the accident. Any medical expenses, lost wages while the injured person recovered or underwent treatment, property damage, and potential lost future income if the accident has rendered the victim unable to work for the long term (or permanently) are special damages.

 

The second category, non-economic or “general” damages, are intended to compensate victims for suffering and any decline in their quality of life related to the accident. Compensation for pain and suffering falls under this category, as does loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and loss of life enjoyment.

 

Even if you believe that you’re adequately covered by PIP coverage under the no-fault rules, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney if you or a loved one was severely injured. Why? Because attorneys are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies. Insurance companies who offer a quick settlement are often trying to settle for a lower amount than the claim is worth. They try to entice victims to sign away their right to sue for damages. An attorney can investigate your accident and use all the information to get you compensation for the full cost of your injuries.

 

At times, insurance companies may deny a claim for technical or other reasons. An attorney can be your advocate in appealing a denial and get you the compensation that you deserve. Attorneys are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies and will help you receive a fair and just settlement.

What is the most common cause of car accidents?

Dangerous drivers cause car accidents in Philadelphia

The National Traffic Safety Board (NHTSB) reports that since January of 2000, more Americans have died in car crashes than in both World Wars. NTSB data shows that drunk, speeding, and distracted drivers caused the majority of fatal wrecks. When it comes to vehicle collisions, the impact is often the direct result of driver negligence—their failure to use reasonable care.

 

When a driver makes poor choices before getting behind the wheel or while they are driving, causing you serious harm, any injuries or property damage you suffer as a result of their negligence demands justice. If you’ve been the victim of motor vehicle collision due to someone else’s reckless behavior, contact a Pennsylvania car accident lawyer without delay.

 

The Human Factor

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94 percent of car crashes are the result of human error. All drivers have a responsibility to share the road and to maintain control of their own vehicle. No matter how defensively you drive, dangerous drivers are all around you, on city streets and on our nation’s highways.

 

Research from the National Safety Council reveals that the majority of drivers believe an accident or serious crash is likely to happen to other people, but not to them. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety made similar findings in their most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index. Most survey respondents acknowledged the dangers associated with certain behaviors behind the wheel. However, many of the same respondents also admitted to behaving in these dangerous ways.

 

Social pressures, new technologies, and indifference to the rules of the road create dangerous conditions for other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on and near roadways. Too many drivers believe that their license to drive is a right when, in fact, it is a privilege.

 

Reckless Behavior Behind the Wheel

With 8.9 million licensed drivers in Pennsylvania, it is impossible to know what other drivers around you are doing behind the wheel. Reckless driving takes many forms and can include the following types of careless behaviors:

 

Distracted driving – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that distracted driving kills 9 people and injures at least 1,000 others every day in the United States. The CDC describes distracted driving as anything including these behaviors:

 

  • Visual distraction – When the driver takes their eyes off the road
  • Manual distraction – When the driver takes their hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive distraction – When the driver takes their mind off of driving

 

The advent of smartphones has increased incidences of distracted driving, because cell phone-using drivers often take phone calls, text, or read and send emails from behind the wheel. According to the CDC, texting involves all three of the main distracting behaviors: visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. The CDC also reports that sending or reading a text while traveling at 55 mph takes the driver’s eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds—long enough to cover the length of a football field with their car.

 

Many other things besides cell phones can distract a driver while they’re behind the wheel. Applying makeup, eating, and reaching for items in the car all distract the driver from the task at hand. Navigational devices can also distract drivers when they take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel to reprogram routes or simply to look at the screen for directions.

 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Research shows that alcohol chemically affects a person’s brain and renders them incapable of making sound decisions. Often people who drink and drive tell researchers they felt they were “invincible” and therefore capable of driving under the influence. Excuses—for they are truly excuses—people supply when defending their choice to drink and drive include:

 

  • “I just live down the road.”
  • “I don’t know how else to get home.”
  • “I won’t get stopped by the police.”

 

While medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, recreational marijuana is not. Driving under the influence of either recreational or medicinal marijuana can hurt a driver’s reaction time and their ability to judge distance. As with many types of medications, driving while experiencing marijuana’s side effects can affect a driver’s ability to be safe on the road.

 

Aggressive driving – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 80 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to expressing significant anger while they were behind the wheel within the previous year. In today’s busy world, everyone, it seems, is in a hurry. The rush to the light, home, or to the store, often leads drivers to recklessly run red lights, tailgate, and speed.

 

Aggressive driving can lead to extremely dangerous behaviors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Purposely running a driver off the road
  • Throwing objects at another driver
  • Cursing and angry gestures toward another driver
  • Sideswiping or ramming another driver

 

When another driver is unable to control their temper, your commute home from work can turn tragic. AAA estimates that 51 percent of drivers (104 million drivers) purposely tailgate and 47 percent (95 million drivers) yell at other drivers. No one should experience serious harm just because another driver is having a bad day or they are late for an appointment.

 

Drowsy driving – Many drivers are sleep deprived because of busy work and home lives. Failure to sleep at night or to get a good night’s sleep can make drivers drowsy and unfocused behind the wheel.

 

The National Sleep Foundation gave survey respondents five priorities and asked them to list the priorities in order of importance. The results illustrate the low priority people give to getting a good night’s rest. The top priorities of those surveyed were:

 

  • Fitness/nutrition (35 percent)
  • Work (27 percent)
  • Hobbies/interests (17 percent)
  • Sleep (10 percent)
  • A social life (9 percent)

 

Just how much of a problem is drowsy driving? The CDC reports that one in 25 adult drivers (age 18 and older) admit to having fallen asleep while driving within the previous 30 days. Those most at risk for driving while drowsy are commercial drivers, people who work late shifts, and people with untreated sleep disorders.

 

Distracted driving, driving under the influence, aggressive driving, and driving while drowsy are all reckless behaviors. When a driver chooses to engage in negligent behavior while behind the wheel, they place everyone around them at risk for serious harm. Your trip to the store or to work should not result in a lifetime of medical care and permanent disability because of someone else’s bad decisions.

 

Holding a reckless driver responsible for the damage they caused requires the skills of a highly experienced personal injury lawyer. Don’t trust your case to just anyone: your recovery depends upon a successful outcome for you and your family.

 

Common Injuries From Collisions

The most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows that the 128,188 crashes reported during 2017 resulted in 80,612 injuries. These injuries included serious injuries and injuries of unknown severity. A collision’s forceful impact can result in one or more of the following types of serious injuries:

 

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. A TBI can affect the injured person’s cognitive and motor function and impair their senses, including vision and hearing. TBIs also sometimes lead to behavioral and emotional problems. Many patients with severe TBIs require extensive medical care for the rest of their lives.

 

  • Spinal cord injury – A spinal cord injury disrupts communication between a person’s brain and movement and sensation in other parts of their body. A spinal cord injury is either complete or incomplete. A complete injury means that the injured person completely loses movement and sensation below the point of injury. An incomplete injury means that the injured person retains some, although often very limited, movement and sensation below the injury. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, making home modifications and power chairs essential.

 

  • Broken bones – With approximately 200 bones in the human body, a collision can result in many broken bones. A broken arm or leg can limit your mobility and your ability to do daily tasks. Broken bones in the neck or a broken back can require many surgeries, wearing a brace, and sometimes months, or even years, of physical therapy.

 

  • Internal injuries – These types of injuries are usually not visible to the naked eye, making them especially dangerous. Even if you feel fine after an accident, seek immediate medical attention anyway. Certain hospital tests and lab work can determine if you have suffered internal injuries and treat them accordingly.

 

The cost of medical care continues to rise. Even if you have insurance, it often won’t cover all of your expenses if you’ve suffered a serious injury. Early settlement offers from insurance companies are attempts to limit their liability and get your case over with quickly. While the amount of money an insurance company offers may seem like a lot, chances are it will not be enough to cover your continuing medical needs. If you have experienced one or more of these serious injuries due to another driver’s reckless behavior, contact a car accident attorney today.

 

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

You can’t control other drivers’ bad decisions. You can, however, control the way you seek compensation for your injuries after an accident. Another driver’s failure to use reasonable care demands justice.

 

Distracted, drunk, angry, and drowsy drivers can change your life forever. No one should pay out-of-pocket for someone else’s reckless behavior. A collision is a sudden and overwhelming event. Lying in a hospital bed with multiple injuries due to someone else’s poor decisions isn’t fair. Take a deep breath and secure legal representation as soon as possible.

 

Don’t let aggressive insurance companies pressure you into accepting less than you deserve. Let an experienced legal team deal with the details of your case so that you can focus on your health and family.

 

Each case is different, but generally a car crash lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If an automobile accident attorney cannot secure a fair settlement, make sure to hire someone who is unafraid to go to court.

 

Time is not on your side, so don’t delay. A motor vehicle accident lawyer will need time to work on your case. He or she may need to speak with witnesses and review evidence. Negotiations take time, and so does a trial, if it’s necessary. The statute of limitations dictates that plaintiffs file cases within a certain time frame, and evidence is always easier to find soon after an accident.

 

Fight for Justice

A collision is a serious event that can have catastrophic results. Medical bills and time missed from work only add to the pain and suffering. It is during this critical time immediately following the accident that you need to rest the most. Make dealing with your emotional and physical pain your primary focus.

 

Talking to a car accident attorney to review your case is the first step in determining the best course of action for your situation. If you are unable to travel to your lawyer’s office, look for someone who will meet with you in your home or at the hospital, who will treat you with the respect you deserve. Find someone with a reputation for maintaining clear and consistent communication throughout the process so you are never in the dark regarding your case. While there is no immediate solution to any accident victim’s situation, knowing you have the right legal representation can you peace of mind.

 

Let today be the first day you start pursuing accountability, justice, and possible compensation for your injuries contact a skilled attorney now. You owe it to yourself to learn more about our services and to schedule your free case evaluation.

August 27, 2019

What to do After a Sideswipe Collision?

Sideswipe Collisions Damage People as Well as Vehicles
Sideswipe collisions can happen on any type of roadway. They most frequently occur when one driver is driving in another driver’s blind spot, though sideswipe collisions can also happen outside of blindspots if one driver is not paying attention to the road. Also, if someone is weaving in and out of traffic or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may also end up the victim of a sideswipe accident. If you were in a sideswipe collision that was not your fault, here’s why you should contact a car accident lawyer.

 

When to Call an Attorney

It is imperative that you or a loved one contact an attorney as soon as possible after a sideswipe accident. First, personal injury cases have a statute of limitation, which means that if you fail to file a claim before a certain period of time, you will be barred from collecting compensation. Secondly, your memory of what happened is always better just after the accident. Something that you may think is just a minor detail may significantly affect the amount of compensation that you receive.

 

Types of Injuries

If you are sideswiped, you stand the chance of sustaining serious injuries, especially if the other driver pushes your vehicle off the road. In other cases, the accident may seriously damage your vehicle, but you may not suffer any physical injuries. However, always keep in mind that a piece of machinery that probably weighs over a ton just struck the vehicle in which you were riding. You may not feel pain from injuries immediately because of adrenaline. Regardless of whether you believe that you are injured, you should see a medical professional immediately following any injury. Some of the types of injuries that you may experience in a sideswipe collision include:

  • Bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and abrasions. These types of injuries generally take a few days to heal, unless they are severe or unless you have an underlying condition that results in slower healing. Deeper cuts may require stitches.
  • Pulled muscles, strains, and sprains. These types of injuries may take several weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the injury. Muscle injuries often require surgery if the muscle is disconnected or torn. With or without surgery, you may need physical therapy to strengthen the limb after the injury heals.
  • Fractures. You may suffer a minor fracture or a compound fracture. A compound fracture breaks the skin and could become infected. Compound fractures usually require surgery. These wounds will take longer to heal if you have underlying issues.
  • Amputations. If you suffer a serious enough injury to a limb, your injury may require amputation. Additionally, if you have an open wound that becomes infected and turns gangrenous, you may have to have that limb amputated.
  • Burns. Burns could take weeks or months to heal, especially if you have an underlying condition that slows or prevents healing. Burns can easily become infected. In many cases, you may know you’re burned, but the burn may not seem serious until the next day. Always seek immediate medical attention if you’ve sustained a burn injury.
  • Head, brain, shoulder, and neck injuries. Any of these injuries could be catastrophic, especially brain injuries. Brain injuries, such as concussions, can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) later in life. If you suffered a concussion in an accident, you should tell your attorney.
  • Back and spine injuries. These could take weeks or months to heal, depending on the type of injury that you’ve sustained. A spine injury could also cause long- or short-term paralysis. With or without paralysis, you may need months or even years of physical, occupational, and/or psychological therapy, and depending on the circumstances of your case, you should seek compensation for future medical expenses and future lost wages.

If your doctors expect your injuries to last for a significant amount of time or permanently, your attorney will work with your doctors to determine the best guess estimate as to how long these injuries may last—and what further treatment you may need down the road—so that you can seek adequate compensation.

Always tell your attorney about any underlying conditions that you have, even if you’re not sure or don’t believe those conditions will affect your healing. Your attorney will consult with doctors to determine if your condition is something that needs to be taken into consideration when negotiating for future medical expenses or when requesting an amount at trial.

 

Compensation Following a Sideswipe Collision

Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, which means that if you are in a car accident, you collect from your own insurance company first. If your injuries and other claims exceed the limits of your insurance, you then can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for additional compensation.

Punitive damages may exceed what the insurance pays out for your claim. If we think you are entitled to punitive damages, we may have to take your case to trial, especially if your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company are not able to cover the amount.

 

Working With Insurance Companies

If you’re involved in an accident, one of the first things you should do is to call your insurance company. However, you should only give the insurance company limited information, including your name, the year, make and model of your vehicle, and the accident location. Advise the representative for the insurance company that your attorney will contact him or her regarding anything further.

Keep in mind that insurance companies are out to make a profit. If they have to pay for your sideswipe claim, that cuts into their bottom line. Even if it’s your insurance company, and you’re sure that you pay all of your premiums on time and have been a customer for years, the insurance company doesn’t care about that. It’s just thinking about the bottom line. Your insurance company will try to get you to settle for the lowest amount possible to make you go away. Instead, let your attorney deal with the insurance company; he or she will be able to negotiate a better settlement.

If your claim involves more than one insurance company, a complicated case could get even more complicated. Your attorney will keep everything organized, so you don’t have to deal with the added stress of working with the insurance companies to make sure you get enough compensation to cover all of your expenses.

 

No Fair and Reasonable Settlement?

If the insurance company will not negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement, your attorney will work with the insurance company to get a better settlement. If the insurance company refuses to offer an adequate settlement, your attorney will take your case to court. Insurance companies want to avoid litigation, as it significantly increases their costs. With clear evidence stacked in your favor, insurance companies know that a court or jury will award you a higher amount than they may have settled for, even if they increase their offer significantly from their initial low-ball offer.

Types of Compensation for Sideswipe Accidents

Depending on the extent of your injuries or whether you lost a loved one in an accident, you may recover three different types of compensation: (1) economic damages, (2) non-economic damages, and (3) punitive damages.

 

Economic Damages

This type of compensation covers items that have an easily determinable price, including:

  • Medical expenses. Submit all bills and/or invoices that you get from all doctors and medical facilities treating the injuries that you sustained as a result of the sideswipe wreck. This includes bills for surgeries, aftercare, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological care for depression or PTSD related to the accident.
  • Lost wages. As long as you are unable to work, you may collect lost wages.
  • Replacement or repair of personal property, including your vehicle and anything else that sustained damage while in your vehicle during the collision.
  • Future medical expenses. Be sure to include any future surgeries that are planned or that being discussed, and any therapy that you may need.
  • Future lost wages. Your attorney will consult with your doctors and with additional doctors that he or she may call in as expert witnesses.

Future medical expenses and lost wages technically do not have a set amount, but they are often considered economic damages. However, some may list these as general damages. Insurance companies have a formula that they follow for determining future costs and expenses.

Because insurance companies estimate how long it will take you to heal, you should let your attorney know if you have any underlying conditions that might cause accident injuries to heal slowly. Diabetes, cancer, and taking certain medications that lower your white blood cell count can significantly delay healing. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company if your accident injuries are not healing in the average time it takes for a particular injury to heal.

In some cases, you may need the help of expert witnesses. These are usually doctors or other medical professionals that will testify in a court about your injuries and how the injuries will affect you in the future. The doctors will also testify as to the length of time in which the injuries should heal, and if they will ever heal. Generally, expert witnesses are not your doctors, as they should be impartial to the case. However, your attorney still may ask that your doctor appear to testify on your behalf.

 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are often referred to as general damages. While you can’t erase the pain from injuries or the loss of a loved one, additional compensation can help with your monthly bills while you’re unable to work or after you’ve lost a loved one. General damages include:

  • Pain and suffering. Your injury must be long-term or permanent to receive compensation for pain and suffering.
  • Loss of companionship. If you’re injured and unable to engage in activities with your family that you normally would—such as hiking, working in the yard, cooking, cleaning, or even attending your children’s school activities—you should seek compensation for loss of companionship. If you lost a loved one, you should also seek compensation for loss of companionship in your wrongful death claim.
  • Loss of consortium. If you are unable to have a physical relationship with your spouse, you should seek compensation for loss of consortium.
  • Loss of a limb. If you lose the use of a limb because of a sideswipe accident, you should seek compensation for the loss of that limb, especially if you lose the use of your dominant hand.
  • Inconvenience. If your injuries inconvenience you for a long time or permanently, so much so that you have to pay someone to assist with activities that you used to complete alone—such as house cleaning, cooking for the family or shopping—you should seek additional compensation.

Because you only get non-economic damages if your injuries are long-term and significantly affect your life, make sure that your medical professionals document all of their conclusions regarding your healing and rehabilitation.

 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only awarded if a defendant’s behavior constituted gross negligence or involved an intent to harm. Courts award punitive damages to plaintiffs as a punishment or deterrent to the defendant. As the plaintiff, you will have to prove that the defendant’s actions qualify as grossly negligent or intentionally harmful.

For example, if a defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol when he or she sideswiped you, you should request punitive damages. Furthermore, if the defendant purposefully sideswiped you to run you off the road in a fit of road rage, you should also seek punitive damages.

 

Wrongful Death

If you lost a loved one in a sideswipe accident, contact a vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. We understand that you are under a lot of stress, having to make complicated arrangements, and likely experiencing significant grief. However, a wrongful death lawsuit can secure compensation to help with funeral and burial expenses in addition to covering your loved one’s medical expenses. You may also qualify to claim non-economic damages. While the money will not bring your loved one back, it goes a long way in helping with your finances, which means you have one less thing to worry about.

If you have further questions, please call a car accident lawyer today to schedule a case evaluation.

August 26, 2019

What Are The Dangers Posed by Reckless Driving?

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers can help you with injuries caused by reckless drivers.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers can help you with injuries caused by reckless drivers.

Like other states, Pennsylvania’s definition of reckless driving covers a wide variety of driver actions and behaviors, many of which can lead to an accident. According to Pennsylvania law, reckless driving occurs when “a person drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

Law enforcement in Pennsylvania issues thousands of tickets to drivers each day, some of which are reckless driving citations, but reckless driving tickets are often issued in conjunction with other tickets. When drivers deliberately make poor choices, it can lead to fatal and severe accidents. This guide provides a general overview of reckless driving, specific behaviors which constitute reckless driving, penalties for reckless driving in Pennsylvania, and how an auto incident lawyer can help you can recover damages  after an accident with a reckless driver.

 

Reckless Driver Behaviors

Pennsylvania’s reckless driving law doesn’t explicitly provide the behaviors which constitute reckless driving. This means law enforcement has ample discretion to issue the citation they see fit in a particular situation. For example, going over the speed limit can result in a speeding violation, but when a driver is speeding excessively, law enforcement might issue a reckless driving ticket, especially when speeding caused property damage, bodily injury, or death. Some other examples of driver behaviors often resulting in a reckless driving citation include:

  • Ignoring traffic signs and signals, such as running a stoplight, or running a stop sign on a school bus
  • Racing cars or playing “chicken” on public roads
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Passing another vehicle on a solid or double solid line or passing on blind curves
  • Weaving in and out of traffic in two or more lanes of traffic
  • Intentionally ignoring barriers at railroad crossings
  • Driving under the influence of a controlled substance

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s crash data doesn’t offer specific information on reckless driving, but it does offer statistics related to some of the above behaviors. In their most recent year of data:

  • More than 30,000 crashes were speed-related, including 441 fatal crashes.
  • Drunk drivers were involved in more than 9,100 crashes, including 160 fatal crashes.
  • Pennsylvania drivers who carelessly or improperly passed other cars caused almost 4,800 crashes, including 54 fatal crashes.
  • Drivers who were following other vehicles too closely caused 6,800 traffic accidents, including 19 fatal crashes.

 

Why Do People Drive Recklessly?

Another term for reckless driving is aggressive driving, which the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses to describe, analyze, and report the above behaviors. The NHTSA’s definition of aggressive driving is very similar to Pennsylvania’s definitions; according to the NHTSA, aggressive driving is driving a motor vehicle “in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Reckless driving has been a main focus for NHTSA’s research over the last decades. They hope efforts spent to understand the causes of aggressive driving reduce the problem and prevent accidents and bodily harm.

After all the time and money spent on learning about aggressive driving, the NHTSA cannot provide specific causes. Yet, they have strong research that supports the factors which often contribute to reckless driving. After studying data collected by law enforcement officers across the nation, the NHTSA has identified four scenarios which are often associated with reckless driving citations. Keep in mind that a driver might experience one or more of these factors simultaneously:

  • Heavy traffic. Delays caused by traffic congestion remains a common factor associated with aggressive driving. Road construction, traffic accidents, funeral processions, trains, and too many cars on the road can all lead to traffic delays. When drivers lack the patience to deal with these delays, they might aggressively weave in and out of traffic, follow others too closely, or engage in other reckless behaviors.
  • Lateness. We live in a world where everyone is busy and running from obligation to obligation and appointment to appointment. Drivers can easily fall behind schedule when taking kids to school, attending classes, going to work, attending a sporting event or concert, going to a business appointment, or when headed towards any type of appointment or meeting. The NHTSA reports the average mother makes five trips and spends about an hour traveling almost 30 miles each day. The demanding schedule of a mother includes trips to the grocery store, taking and picking up kids from school, practice, and doctor appointments. Mothers and other drivers who have demanding schedules sometimes make poor choices behind the wheel to get to their destination on time.
  • Anonymity. The NHTSA has studies some of the psychological factors which contribute to reckless driving. Feelings of anonymity and detachment inside a vehicle can lead to antisocial behavior, in contrast to public aspects of driving where people are more likely to conform to social norms. More simply put—Some drivers will behave horribly when others don’t know who they are. For example, a driver is frustrated because they are running late or in traffic, so they will behave rudely or engage in road rage behaviors. Maybe they will give hand gestures or honk incessantly because they feel they have more power when they are anonymous.
  • Habitual or clinical behavior. In comparison to other driver behaviors, reckless driving is rare. Repeat offenders often engage in aggressive or reckless driving. In fact, reckless choices behind the wheel might be their standard way of driving. The NHTSA expects that some reckless driving might be a one-time behavior after a stressful day. Yet, habitual reckless driving, which also includes feelings of frustration and anger and confrontations with other drivers who share the road, demonstrates pathological behavior.

 

Penalties and Fines for Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania

Unlike some other states, most reckless driving convictions are not criminal offenses. Under Pennsylvania law, a reckless driving conviction is a summary offense which carries up to a $200 fine and a six-month license suspension. Reckless driving is a crime, but a conviction won’t typically lead to misdemeanor or felony on a drivers’ record. Yet, repeat offenses and other specific scenarios result in harsher penalties. Penalties and fines for a variety of these situations include:

  • Drivers who drive recklessly in a work zone or an emergency zone face double the fine if convicted.
  • Drivers who cause bodily injury as a result of their reckless driving face $1,000 minimum find and a minimum 90 days in jail.
  • Drivers whose recklessness results in fatality face a minimum fine of $25,000 and a minimum of a year in jail. These drivers might also face a civil lawsuit and criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter.

Drivers who are convicted of reckless driving also face point penalties to their Pennsylvania driver’s licenses. Each traffic violation has a point value assigned. As a person accumulates points, they might face legal consequences, including suspensions and fines, plus fees for reinstatement. One year without traffic violations will clear points from a driver’s record.

 

Steps After an Accident with a Reckless Driver

Many reckless driver behaviors are recognizable after a crash. To ensure you have the best outcome with insurance companies and a potential lawsuit, you need to take a number of steps after you have an accident with a reckless driver. They include:

 

Call 911. If you or any other driver or passenger involved in an accident with a reckless driver has been injured, you need to call 911 as soon as possible to dispatch emergency response teams and law enforcement to the scene of an accident.

Seek medical treatment. Don’t refuse medical treatment after an accident, even if you feel okay. Some injuries from traffic accidents don’t show symptoms right away, especially concussions and other brain injuries. If the accident is not severe enough to warrant an ambulance ride, make sure to head to the nearest emergency room or your doctor as soon as possible to get checked out. Medical documentation is crucial to providing evidence of harm to insurance companies and defense teams.

Gather information at the scene of the accident. It’s likely law enforcement will come to the scene of the accident and complete a report. Yet, it’s in your best interest to gather as much information as you can, if you are physically able to do so. This includes:

  • Making note of the location, time, weather conditions, and road conditions where the accident occurred
  • Recording any reckless driving behaviors you believe contributed to the accident, e.g. speeding, swerving, tailgating
  • Collecting contact information and insurance information from all involved drivers
  • Recording or taking photos of license plates of all vehicles involved
  • Taking photos of property damage to cars and any other relevant photos at the scene
  • Taking photos of any visible bodily injury at the scene

Remember that reckless drivers might feel angry and frustrated. You should always remain calm, and proceed with caution when trying to gather information. In some cases, it might be in your best interest to stay in your vehicle until police arrive. Use your best judgment, but don’t jeopardize your personal safety to gather evidence you can get off of the police report.

File an insurance claim. Even though you are certain another driver is at fault for the accident, you need to report the accident to your insurance company. Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state, which means all drivers file claims under their own personal injury protection (PIP) policies to recover the costs of a traffic accident.

Keep all bills and receipts. You need to provide documentation to prove economic loss related to a traffic accident. Your PIP insurance in Pennsylvania only covers medical costs up to a certain amount. Bills, receipts, and pay stubs show all medical costs, as well as repair costs, lost wages, and travel expenses to and from the doctor.

Hire a personal injury attorney. When reckless drivers cause accidents, they are often severe and result in serious injury or fatality. In these types of accidents, it’s highly likely your PIP insurance will make only a dent in providing the compensation you deserve for your loss and injuries. A skilled and reputable personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation beyond PIP coverage in Pennsylvania, so you don’t have to shoulder the financial burden which often accompanies a severe accident. Additionally, good lawyers are skilled negotiators who can handle communication with insurance companies, protecting you from tactics they will use to devalue your claim and reduce liability. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can also negotiate a higher settlement than you would receive on your own.

 

Seeking Compensation Beyond PIP Coverage in Pennsylvania

After you have an accident involving a reckless driver, and you file an insurance claim under your mandatory Pennsylvania PIP coverage, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover additional damages not covered by your policy. It’s likely you won’t take legal action after a minor accident, but the medical costs from a severe accident often meet or exceed policy limits quickly. If you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you might recover the following damages from a settlement or verdict in your favor:

  • Medical expenses not covered by your PIP policy including ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospital stay, radiology, surgery, and prescription medication
  • Future medical expenses when a reckless driver causes a severe injury requiring extensive treatment and recovery or a permanent disability
  • Rehabilitation expenses including visits to physical therapists and other specialists, and assistive devices such as wheelchairs, artificial limbs, crutches, and canes
  • Lost wages for time away from work due to the injury, treatment, and hospitalization
  • Future lost wages when a catastrophic injury prohibits you from returning to work or requires you to reduce your hours or change careers
  • Non-economic costs such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium with a spouse, loss in quality of life, scarring and disfigurement, and any other costs which might apply to your particular circumstances.

Reckless driving is a serious offense which potentially leads to life-changing injuries for those who are victims in an accident. If you have suffered injury in an accident with a reckless driver, talking to an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help advise you on your best course of action.

August 25, 2019

What is the deadliest type of car accident?

Head-On Collisions: The Deadliest of CrashesAnyone who was in a head-on collision never forgets the moments immediately before the crash. Sometimes the other driver was speeding, impaired by alcohol or drugs, or simply not paying attention. It happens so quickly, there is no time to steer away from the danger. They simply feel the adrenaline enter their bloodstream as their body braces for an inevitable crash.

Head-on collisions often cause serious injuries. When an impact has enough force to twist and deform a vehicle, mechanical parts, interior components, and reinforcement structures, it also often has catastrophic consequences for the vehicle’s occupants.

The impact from a head-on collision can distort the vehicle’s exterior and force an intrusion into the passenger compartment. A shift in the vehicle’s structure can seriously injure a driver or passenger’s lower extremities, including their legs, feet, ankles, and knees. When a front-end crash involves vehicles that are mismatched in weight, height, and speed, the chances are higher that car occupants will suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries.  Contacting a dedicated car accident attorney and discussing your options can help you get back on track to recovering from your incident.

 

How Do Head-On Crashes Occur?

Head-on crashes are the result of a series of simple yet crucial mistakes. They happen when an oncoming driver becomes distracted and strays from their intended course of travel. If the distracted driver fails to correct their actions, they end up driving the wrong way in the opposing lane. This is one of many preventable potential consequences when a person engages in risky driving behaviors.

The combination of speed, driver impairment, distraction, or other factors make head-on collisions dangerous and sometimes deadly. As with other types of accidents, frontal collisions usually occur due to driver negligence. Often the other driver in the collision has no time to react to avoid the collision.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation tracks head-on crashes that happen in the state. The PennDOT Crash Report Query Tool provides the following data about the head-on collisions that occurred in Pennsylvania in one recent year:

  • Philadelphia County head-on collisions: 183
  • Casualties: 144 crashes with injuries and 5 with fatalities.
  • Contributing factors: Speed, distraction, alcohol/drug impairment, fatigue, and others.

Philadelphia is one of many cities working on Vision Zero initiatives. As the city with the highest number of traffic-related accidents per capita in the United States, city officials are working to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2030.

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation 2017 Crash Facts & Statistics documents the dangers of front-end collisions throughout the state. Of the 471 auto-accident fatalities that occurred in Pennsylvania during 2017, 80.5 percent of those who died were drivers and 13.4 percent were passengers occupying the right front seat.

 

What About Vehicle Crashworthiness?

In the early 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the “NHTSA”) determined that head-on collisions caused more fatal injuries than any other type of accident. The NHTSA, and later the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, began conducting frontal crash tests. The idea was to determine how well surrogate humans (crash dummies) could survive staged vehicle impacts. When safety agencies began testing front end crashworthiness, most vehicles rated “poor or marginal” for frontal crash safety.

Eventually, the NHTSA and IIHS’s crashworthiness findings led to safety legislation, which required automotive manufacturers to improve the front end crashworthiness of their vehicles. Over the years, changes in auto design and manufacturing processes have increased all cars’ abilities to withstand a front-end crash. In addition to seatbelts and airbags, manufacturers added front end crush zones. They also enclosed passenger compartments within protective safety cages. These safety enhancements save lives. Front-end collision deaths have dropped by 61 percent since the NHTSA’s original findings, but serious injuries and deaths still occur.

 

Front-End Safety Measures Don’t Always Prevent Front Occupant Injuries

A vehicle’s front crush zone is in the center 50 percent of the vehicle’s front end. While this safety enhancement protects front-seat passengers from center-front collisions, those aren’t the only types of head-on collisions that occur. Center-front protective structures provide minimal protection during front end accidents involving overlap or offset impacts. These right or left of center impacts don’t engage a car’s protective systems the way a center-front collision does.

The vehicle compartments that accommodate passenger extremities and lower body areas still have limited protections. When an accident-related intrusion distorts a vehicle’s instrument panels, wheel wells, floor pans, and other right or left front vehicle structures, these displacements can lead to fractured femurs, crushed ankles, injured knees, and other serious lower-extremity injuries.

Vehicle occupants’ heads and upper bodies are also at risk. In many cases, airbags and seatbelts protect front-seat passengers from life-threatening upper body and head damage. But traumas still occur during collisions involving overlap and offset impacts.

Injuries also frequently happen in crashes with significantly mismatched vehicles. When the bumper of a larger vehicle is higher than a smaller car’s bumper or when large sized tires elevate a truck’s body above the other vehicle, a resulting mismatched vehicle crash can cause a hood or instrument intrusion into the upper part of the smaller car’s passenger compartment. Often, these types of head-on collisions diminish seat belt and airbag effectiveness. They can therefore lead to serious, catastrophic, and sometimes fatal upper-body injuries.

 

Who Pays Your Medical Bills When You’re Injured in a Head-On Collision?

Depending on your auto insurance coverage, your own auto insurer will pay your accident-related medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses after a crash. Under Pennsylvania’s Election of Tort Statute, § 1705, you choose how you will handle future auto-accident related injury claims before you buy a policy. Your insurance company must offer you one of two options:

 

Full tort: You have no waiting periods or tort thresholds to meet. You may make a liability claim or file a lawsuit against the other driver for all of your damages. You may recover non-economic losses such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.

 

Limited tort: When you’re injured, your own insurance company pays your medical bills and other out-of-pocket medical expenses. Under Pennsylvania §1712, your company must offer you a minimum $5,000 medical benefit. You also have the right to purchase the following optional coverages:

  • Income loss benefit
  • Accidental death benefit
  • Funeral expense benefit
  • Extraordinary medical benefits
  • A combined benefit that covers medical, income, accidental death and funeral benefits

When you choose the Limited Tort option, you have no immediate legal right to make a claim or file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. The statute waives this requirement under certain circumstances outlined under §1705(d), Limited Tort Alternative.

Also, if you meet a serious injury tort threshold, you may file a civil lawsuit for non-economic damages. You may also file a lawsuit against the manufacturer if a vehicle or component defect contributed to the accident. The statute lists several additional exceptions and circumstances under which you have an automatic right to make a claim or file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused your injuries.

 

What Happens if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Pennsylvania’s Election of Tort Options statute allows anyone who was injured in a car accident full tort rights when the other driver doesn’t meet state financial responsibility requirements. Essentially, this means that the other driver failed to purchase the required insurance coverage. Although the responsible driver doesn’t have an insurer to pay for the injured driver’s damages, the injured driver may still have a recovery option.

If an injured driver has Uninsured Motorist Coverage on their Personal Auto Policy, their insurance company owes them for any valid injury claims they have against another negligent driver. Their own insurance carrier fills the role the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company would have filled had that other driver purchased insurance. The injured driver’s insurance company investigates, evaluates, and settles the claim based on the other driver’s liability and the injured driver’s damages. They negotiate with the injured driver just as another driver’s liability carrier would.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage applies when the value of an accident victim’s injuries exceeds the negligent driver’s liability insurance coverage limit. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverages are not mandatory in Pennsylvania. Insurance companies must offer these coverages and give their insured the right to reject them.

 

Should You Talk to the Insurance Companies?

When you file a claim for benefits with your insurance carrier, you have no choice but to communicate with their representatives. Your policy requires that you cooperate, provide statements, medical bills, and other requested documentation. You must comply if you want to receive payments for your submitted expenses. You must also deal with your insurance company when you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.

The other driver’s insurance company may also want to talk to you, but it’s not a good idea. Despite your familiarity with the facts, your knowledge, or your ability to speak up for yourself, a liability insurance investigator can use your words against you. Even if you don’t consent to a written or recorded statement or sign a medical release, the insurance company representative will document everything you have to say. As your claim enters a negotiation phase, that representative may use any discrepancies or contradictions to discredit you or diminish your injury claim.

Insurance companies can also use your statements to prove that you contributed to the accident. Under Pennsylvania’s Modified Comparative Fault statute, if they show that you were more liable than the other driver you can’t recover any damages for your injuries.

 

Do You Need an Attorney to Represent You?

Things can get extremely complicated when it comes to recovering damages for injuries suffered in a frontal collision. An experienced legal representative can manage the critical details in dealing with the accident victim’s own insurance company or the other driver’s liability carrier.

A serious head-on accident involves complex legal issues. As with any accident, the negligent driver may choose to try to avoid liability by telling their insurance carrier an alternate version of the facts. They may blame the other driver, a phantom vehicle, or a vehicle defect. They may cite some other issue to bolster their chances of prevailing on the issue of liability. Regardless of an injured accident victim’s insurance tort option, they may face an uphill battle when it comes to proving liability.

Injuries and damages are an additional complication. If the accident victim sustained serious or catastrophic injuries, they may not fully understand the extent of their injury’s current and future cost. Insurance companies take advantage of injured people in negotiating settlements. They often attempt to settle a claim for an amount that’s far lower than its true value.

Depending on their tort option selection, an accident victim may or may not have an immediate right to file a lawsuit. But they may still benefit from legal assistance in determining their damages and evaluating the liability issues at play. An attorney can preserve the evidence, document damages, and protect the accident victim and their family’s legal rights sooner rather than later.

As with any accident, damage recovery is subject to the whims of the other driver and their insurance company. When another driver crosses over into the opposite lane, it seems like that should be clear evidence of negligence. Unfortunately, that driver’s insurance company won’t necessarily see it this way, especially if their insured has offered another version of events. An attorney can work to resolve these and other legal complications.

If you need to file an insurance claim after an accident, you must cooperate with your insurance carrier, but you have a legal right to have a personal injury lawyer assist you during the process. An attorney can review your policy for relevant coverages and make sure you’re receiving all of your benefits. If you have a valid uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, your attorney can prepare your case, analyze the liability issues, present your damages and negotiate your settlement.

 

Call a Car Accident Attorney for More Information

If you were injured in a head-on collision or any other accident, a legal representative can take the pressure off of by working to recover damages on your behalf. Most will offer a free consultation and case review to answer your questions and give you a chance to gauge if the lawyer’s experience, dedication, and resources are enough to handle your case.

August 23, 2019

What Are the Causes of Car Accidents?

What Are the Causes of Car Accidents?According to statistics provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 351 reportable crashes take place in the state every day, equating to about 15 crashes an hour. There are around 221 people injured in these crashes each day, meaning 9 people are injured in a traffic crash every hour and—based on the state’s population in 2017—that equals one out of every 159 people in the Commonwealth were injured in a crash that year. What causes these accidents? Here is a look at some of the more common causes of car accidents in Pennsylvania and beyond.

 

Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that distracted driving led to the deaths of more than three thousand people across the nation in 2017. Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the task of driving. Some common distractions include:

  • Texting and other cell phone use
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to other passengers in the car
  • Fiddling with stereo, entertainment, or navigation controls
  • External distractions such as previous accidents

The administration notes that texting is a particularly dangerous activity while driving as sending or reading a text causes a person to take their eyes off the road for up to five seconds. Five seconds, while traveling at 55 miles per hour, is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. In Pennsylvania, it is against the law to text while driving.

 

Speeding

More than 31,000 crashes in Pennsylvania in 2017 involved a driver who was speeding. 441 of those crashes resulted in fatalities. Nationwide, more than a quarter of the fatal crashes involved speeding, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The administration considers a crash to be speeding-related if any driver in the crash was charged with a speeding-related offense or if the officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash.

Data reveals that young male drivers are more likely to be speeding at the time of a fatal crash, with roughly a third of male drivers in the 15 to 20 year old age group speeding at the time of a fatal crash. The most common time of the year for speeding-related crashes is during the warm-weather months of May through September.

 

Alcohol or Drug Impairment

Alcohol impairment was the cause of 9,143 accidents in 2017 in Pennsylvania. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, alcohol-related traffic crashes account for one death every 50 minutes, equaling a daily death toll of 29 and an annual societal cost of more than $44 billion. Alcohol impairment is a contributing factor in 28 percent of traffic fatalities in the U.S., and about 17 percent of traffic accident fatalities in children ages 14 years old and younger.

Impairment due to drugs other than alcohol—including both illegal and legal drugs—is involved in about 16 percent of all traffic crashes. Marijuana is believed to be in the systems of about 13 percent of all drivers on the road during weekend nights. Marijuana users are 25 percent more likely to be involved in a traffic crash than those who do not use marijuana.

 

Running Red Lights

According to information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 890 people across the U.S. were killed in 2017 due to a driver running a red light and an estimated 132,000 more were injured. Over half of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists, and passengers in vehicles that were hit by red light runners.

Studies reveal that young male drivers with prior traffic crashes or alcohol-impaired driving infractions are more likely to run red lights. Those who are alcohol impaired, speeding, or without a driver’s license are also more likely to be red light runners.

One is considered to have run a red light if he or she enters the intersection when the light is fully red. If one enters the intersection when the light is yellow and then it turns red before the car has completely departed the intersection, it is not considered red light running, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Research has shown that lengthening the time that the light is yellow—when drivers are supposed to come to a safe stop if they are able or proceed through the intersection if they are not—can significantly reduce the risk of fatal intersection crashes. Additionally, states that have deployed red light cameras at major intersections have been able to reduce red light violations by up to 40 percent.

 

Defective Vehicle Parts

Defective vehicle parts are another major cause of car accidents. Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation reported that the two top causes of accidents due to defective vehicle parts involved tires and wheels (37.7 percent) and brakes (30 percent). Other defective vehicle parts that might lead to an accident include the steering system, power train, suspension, an unsecured or shifted trailer load, vehicle lighting, and the body, doors, or hood. Defects due to vehicle parts are most often caused by poor vehicle maintenance but may also be caused by a manufacturing or design defect as well.

 

Night Driving

While only a quarter of the average U.S. citizen’s driving takes place at night, about 50 percent of traffic deaths occur during nighttime hours. The risk of a fatal car accident is three times higher at night than it is during the daytime hours, according to research from the National Safety Council. Some of the factors that add to this increased risk include:

  • Shorter days
  • Fatigue
  • Compromised night vision
  • Impairment from drugs or alcohol
  • Daylight Saving Time

Darkness degrades drivers’ depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision, and the glare of oncoming headlights can temporarily blind a driver. At night, vision is limited to about 250 feet with normal headlights or 500 feet with high-beam headlights, both of which are significantly less than the distance in which a person can see during daytime driving. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see at night as a 30-year-old driver due to changes in vision related to age, making night driving a particular risk of older drivers. Teenage drivers are also at particular risk of being in an accident at night due to the combination of a lack of driving experience and the impact that darkness has on the driver’s ability to see clearly.

 

Youth

A global campaign from the organization Do Something notes that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people. The crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is higher than it is at any other time of their life, with one in five teenage drivers experiencing a car accident within their first year of driving. Half of all teens in the U.S. will be involved in a car accident before graduating from high school. In Pennsylvania, drivers between the ages of 16 to 21 accounted for 37.5 percent of the single vehicle crashes and were involved in more than 60 percent of the multiple vehicle crashes in the state in 2017.

Teenage drivers carry a higher risk of being involved in an accident mostly due to their lack of driving experience. Studies have suggested that the three most common errors found to cause accidents among teenage drivers include:

  • Lack of scanning the roadway
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Distraction by something inside or outside of the vehicle

Research suggests that a teen driver with another teen in the vehicle as a passenger is 44 percent more likely to be involved in an accident.

 

Tailgating

It takes a vehicle traveling at 60 miles per hour a minimum of 240 feet to come to a safe stop. Up to 60 feet of that distance is required for the driver to recognize that they need to stop. Wet roadways require up to four times more distance for a safe stop, and over-sized vehicles must also take more distance to compensate for the weight of the vehicle. Because of this, following too closely—also known as tailgating—is the cause of many accidents.

Rear-end collisions, which are the type of accident associated with tailgating, account for 23 percent of all crashes. This type of accident results in around 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries each year. Surveys indicate that around three-fourths of drivers report being tailgated within the last six months.

 

Unsafe Lane Changes

Unsafe lane changes occur when a driver changes lanes in a way that puts them at risk of causing an accident with another vehicle. Some examples of unsafe lane changes are:

  • Failing to signal before changing lanes or starting to signal after the lane change has already been initiated
  • Changing into a lane and forcing another driver in that lane to brake for you to have enough room to maintain a safe following distance
  • Lane changes that involve traveling through multiple lanes of traffic at once
  • Changing lanes in an intersection or immediately before one
  • Driving in the middle of two lanes for an extended time
  • Changing lanes where the lanes are separated by two solid yellow lines instead of a dotted line, indicating that there is not ample visibility of traffic that may be oncoming to make the change

 

Inclement Weather

Extreme weather conditions can make it hard to drive, particularly if conditions hamper visibility or make the roadway wet or slick. Fog is considered one of the worst conditions to drive in, due to how it obscures potential roadway hazards. However, other conditions make driving difficult, as well. Some forms of inclement weather that may lead to an accident include:

  • Sun glare, particularly when driving at sunrise or sunset, as well as reflected light from the windows and chrome of other cars
  • Rain, which may impair visibility and may also cause roads to be particularly slippery due to water mixing with oil and dust on the roadway. One particular danger when driving in heavy rain is hydroplaning, which occurs when there is a combination of standing water on the road, and increased car speed, and worn-out or under-inflated tires.
  • Snow and ice, which are most dangerous as they begin to melt due to the tendency for slush to act as a lubricant and reduce traction. Falling snow can also greatly reduce visibility and ice may cause cars to slide, particularly when turning or stopping quickly.
  • Wind, which reduces your steering control or may cause you to inadvertently increase speed. Sudden wind gusts may result in a total loss of vehicle control. Wind is especially dangerous for recreational vehicles, campers, and vehicles that are pulling trailers.
  • Extreme heat, which may cause your car to overheat, leading to stalling and other issues that present hazards to others on the road.

 

Road Rage

The American Safety Council reports that the term road rage was initially coined by a news station in Los Angeles after a series of shootings that occurred on the city’s freeways. While people often use the term to describe aggressive driving, and certainly there are aggressive driving tactics involved in road rage, this condition is actually a criminal intent to endanger other persons or property or to use the motor vehicle as a weapon in which to assault others. Here are some things to consider about road rage:

  • Sixty-six percent of traffic fatalities are caused by some form of aggressive driving, such as speeding, tailgating, or running red lights. 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.
  • Males under the age of 19 are the most common culprits of road rage.
  • Half of all drivers who encounter road rage respond with road rage behavior themselves, including horn honking, rude gestures, or tailgating.
  • In seven years’ time, road rage was responsible for more than 200 murders in the United States, and resulted in over 12,000 injuries.
  • Two percent of drivers admit to trying to an aggressor off of the road during a road rage incident.

 

Call a Car Accident Lawyer for More Information

Regardless of what the cause is, if you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve to have someone help you understand your legal options. An experienced car accident lawyer can do that.

August 22, 2019

Car Accident FAQ

Car Accident FAQ Attorney
Facts about car accidents

If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania, you may have suffered devastating physical and emotional injuries. Countless victims across the country each year find themselves with life-threatening and altering injuries after a car accident. Hospital visits, communicating with insurance companies, and the struggle to return to everyday life can quickly take a toll on a person’s quality of life.

That’s why it’s critical that car accident victims need information about their rights. Understanding what circumstances and behaviors lead to accidents may help drivers avoid additional car accidents in the future. Knowledge about the steps to take immediately following an accident can offer tremendous peace of mind and play a key role in how much compensation a victim receives to help them recover from the accident.

Consult a lawyer in the days that follow a car accident. Speaking with a legal professional will improve your ability to protect yourself and your rights. Should a law firm elect to take on your case, you’ll receive your attorney’s support and guidance as you undergo medical care and deal with the likes of employers and insurance companies.

 

What Are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents?

Distracted, drowsy, and drunk driving all account for a large percentage of vehicle crashes each year. Busy commuters trying to get down a meal behind the wheel, young drivers peeking at their texts on the road, and drivers who drank too much or are impaired by some other substance are at the root of thousands of crashes each year.

A sizable percentage of car accidents are also traceable to speeding and aggressive driving. In these cases, at-fault driver may behave erratically and aggressively, regardless of their surroundings. They may intentionally target those around them, but also can cause damage accidentally.

Poor weather and road conditions give many drivers trouble, too, and bring about numerous car accidents every year. Drivers who are unfamiliar with conditions like ice and fog may panic in less than desirable weather, and even their more experienced counterparts may struggle on exceptionally low-visibility or slippery days.

 

How Common Are Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?

Car accidents in Pennsylvania occur with staggering frequency. While not every crash leads to an injury or death, it’s critical to acknowledge how frequently vehicle crashes occur. Crash victims should understand that they aren’t alone in their battle to return to everyday life and receive compensation for their losses.

2017 saw an average of just over 350 car accidents per day across the state of Pennsylvania. That translates to roughly fifteen crashes on an hourly basis statewide. Each day, an average of three people were killed in these crashes and another 221 were injured.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that these figures indicate that one in every forty-four members of the state’s population was involved in a reportable car accident during the year. And in that year one out of every 159 individuals were injured during a crash.

 

What Are the Common Types of Car Accidents?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation describes seven typical kinds of car accidents:

  • Non-collisions occur when a harmful event takes place but no collision happens. This means that the car accident does not involve a vehicle colliding with any other object—fixed or otherwise. Examples of this type of car accident include accidents caused by fire, explosion, overturns, immersion, and so on.
  • Sideswipe car accidents involve two vehicles. If the sides of the vehicles collide, regardless of driving direction, the car accident is classified as a sideswipe.
  • Head-on car accidents involve vehicles traveling in opposite directions. During head-on car accidents, two vehicles collide front-to-front.
  • Rear-end car accidents are, essentially, equal and opposite to head-on car accidents. A car accident is classified as a rear-end collision if one vehicle’s front end collides with another vehicle’s rear end while they are traveling in the same direction on the same road.
  • Angle car accidents are defined as vehicle collisions between two cars that collide when traveling opposite directions at a junction in the road, such as road intersections, entrance ramps, or driveways.
  • Hit fixed object car accidents occur when a vehicle collides with any stationary object adjacent to or along a roadway. These objects may be structural—like bridge piers—or simply be large objects within the road’s vicinity, like trees, walls, or fences.
  • Hit pedestrian car accidents involve collisions between vehicles and a person (or people) not inside a vehicle.

 

What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?

Victims can sustain a vast array of injuries in virtually any car accident. High-speed accidents and those involving two vehicles tend to be especially dangerous. Some of the most common categories of injuries that victims of car accidents may receive include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Lacerations
  • Internal organ damage
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

 

What Should Victims Do in the Days Following a Car Accident?

In the days that follow your car accident, you can make recovering compensation for your injuries easier. It can be difficult to know what to prioritize, which steps to take, and what information to record while you grapple with the emotional and physical toll of your accident. You can make your job much easier by breaking the steps down into two simple categories: things to obtain and things to record.

 

What to Obtain

If you were in a car accident, there are a handful of documents that you should obtain as soon as possible. One of these is the police report that the responding officer filled out at the scene of the car accident. All you’ll need to do to get this report is to contact the police department that responded to your accident and submit a request.

Victims should also partner with their insurance companies and obtain a property damage valuation. This, in addition to keeping copies of any and all relevant medical documentation, will help improve the strength of your case. Pertinent medical documents may include test results, doctor’s notes, referral forms, prescriptions, etc.

 

What to Record

Keeping a journal of any physical and medical symptoms you experienced after the crash is a good way to help establish a timeline of events. You should also make a note of each visit you pay to any sort of medical provider.

Record the days of work or other activities that you missed after the accident. Tracking out-of-pocket expenses is a good idea, too, which should include virtually anything you may need to pay for as a result of the car accident.

In addition to gathering and recording the above information, car accident victims should also consult a trustworthy attorney in the days following their crash. This is the best way to ensure that you’re well-supported in the time following your accident. Most lawyers offer free consultations and only collect payment if your case turns out favorably.

 

Should You Get a Lawyer Following a Car Accident?

The short answer: yes.

It’s never a bad idea to consult a personal injury attorney after a car accident. You’ll likely receive a settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company and may think it’s fair—but a lawyer may be able to point out additional opportunities for compensation you hadn’t considered.

Perhaps the settlement offer is enough to cover the damage to your vehicle and take care of your medical bills, but have you considered the value of your time and well-being? An experienced and empathetic attorney may be able to help you pursue the compensation you deserve for mental anguish caused by your car accident.

 

How Long After an Accident Can Victims Pursue Legal Recourse?

Car accident victims in Pennsylvania have a limited time from the date of their car accident to pursue legal action. State law establishes the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case. If a victim fails to file their claim before this deadline passes, a court will find that they have relinquished their claim under the law.

 

What Damages Can a Car Accident Victim Claim?

If a court or insurance company determines that one of the motorists involved in a car accident was driving negligently or recklessly and that behavior led to the car accident, victims of that accident may be eligible to seek damages. In Pennsylvania, car accident victims have the option to pursue two varieties of damages: compensatory and non-compensatory damages.

Non-compensatory damages are compensation for injuries for which it is difficult to calculate a monetary amount. They serve to prove a point or teach the negligent driver a lesson, rather than to compensate a victim in a case, although they do come in the form of monetary compensation. Judges often award damages like these when the at-fault driver was extremely reckless and the judge is hoping to deter them from behaving that way again in the future.

Compensatory damages are the types of damages that the general public tends to be more familiar with. These include monetary compensation to offset or cover the cost of the accident victim’s:

  • Medical costs: which may include any previous, current, and future appointments, hospitalizations, surgical costs, doctor fees, or medication costs necessary to treat any injuries suffered in the car accident.
  • Intangible losses: such as loss of enjoyment of life, or pain and suffering.
  • Lost earnings: including any lost wages, delayed disability or other similar payments.

 

Is It Possible to Recover Compensation Even if I Was Partially at Fault?

Yes, you may recover compensation for damages caused by your car accident even if you were found partially at fault. Always contact a legal professional if you were a victim of a car accident—they’ll work towards clarifying confusing concepts and requirements like how to recover compensation if you contributed somehow to your own accident.

 

How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent-fee basis and offer free consultations. That means you’ll get the chance to speak to a legal professional for free about your case’s chances in court before agreeing to work together. It also means that if the attorney takes your case, they will only collect payment if they win or settle your claim.

The price of legal representation following your car accident will vary. Generally speaking, firms set their fees based on how much work an individual case requires. Lawyers should clearly lay out their fee structures to potential clients before they enter into any agreements for legal representation.

 

Can I Still Hire an Attorney if the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Made a Settlement Offer?

If the insurance company has made a settlement offer and you have not accepted it verbally or signed release documents which bind you to accept the settlement, yes, you can still hire an attorney. In an ideal scenario, you should speak to a qualified attorney immediately following your car accident. This will ensure that you have access to legal counsel before a settlement offer is ever even made.

Partnering With a Car Accident Law Firm

The above only provides general information. The real answers—the ones that apply directly to you—depend largely on the specific facts in your case. You will need to consult with an experienced car accident attorney to know for certain whether you have a case to pursue.

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