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Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney

Philadelphia Car Accident AttorneysThe experienced Philadelphia car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm are committed to standing up for the rights of victims injured in traffic accidents and helping them receive proper compensation from any responsible parties. Each auto accident case is different, with its own unique circumstances and complexities. At The Levin Firm, we bring our extensive resources and skills to the table in order to provide the highest quality roin every case no matter what it entails.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports (1) that 21,667 people in the United States were killed in auto accidents and another 2,091,000 suffered injury in 2012 alone. Such statistics demonstrate the high risk of accidents and injuries that Americans face every time they climb into a motor vehicle. Millions of passenger vehicles travel in or around Philadelphia on a daily basis, so chances are high that you will be involved in a collision at some point during your driving tenure. Such collisions have the potential to cause serious injuries and may cause you to experience significant losses as a result.

from 2008-2017


Source: https://www.dotcrashinfo.pa.gov/PCIT/welcome.html

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Can you Collect on a Car Accident Injury?

Car Accident Attorneys in PA

Car accidents are fairly common in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportationestimated that at least 121,000 alone occurred in 2015 alone. Approximately 9% of those 121,000 accidents occurred solely in Philadelphia and approximately 7% of all traffic-related deaths occurred in Philadelphia.

An attorney can help establish negligence

Generally, car accident victims who wish to recover for their injuries are required to establish that accident was caused by someone else’s negligence. In the context of Philadelphia car accident cases. Negligence has a very specific legal meaning, and the assistance of an attorney can have a significant impact out the outcome of a case. Your lawyer will thoroughly analyze the facts of your case and determine whether any evidence of negligence exists. Among the more common examples of driver negligence that can result in travel car accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving [2]
  • Failure to account for adverse weather or road conditions
  • Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while excessively fatigued

The kinds of evidence that your attorney will review may include the accident report, cell phone records, data from a vehicles on-board computers, and maintenance records. This type of investigation is often necessary, as many drivers are naturally hesitant to admit fault. The discovery process [3] allows litigants to request and obtain this type of information, but can be extremely difficult for a non-lawyer to navigate. In addition, many insurance companies will offer victims an unreasonably low settlement offer in exchange for their right to sue. As a result, the assistance of an attorney is highly advised for anyone who has been involved in car accident.

Proving Negligence in a Accident Claim

In order to recover in court for any losses you suffered as a result of a car accident, you must adequately prove that another party acted in a negligent manner to cause or contribute to the accident and your injuries. Though most people have heard the term “negligence” numerous times, many individuals may not fully understand what negligence encapsulates and the role it plays in a car accident case. To prove negligence, you must present sufficient evidence of the following elements:

  • The other party had a certain duty of care in the particular situation;
  • That party breached their duty of care;
  • The breach caused your injury; and
  • You suffered losses as a result.

All drivers have the legal duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner to avoid accidents and injuries to other motorists. Therefore, in a car accident case, you can often prove the duty element by simply showing that the person was behind the wheel of a car at the time of the accident. It is substantially more challenging, however, to obtain and present evidence that the driver breached their duty by failing to drive in a safe manner.

There are many ways in which drivers may act negligently to cause accidents, including but not limited to the following:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Aggressive driving
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Failing to obey traffic signals
  • Failing to maintain control of the car
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Not having a driver’s license
  • Not using the proper lights, etc.
  • Failing to signal
  • Failing to yield
  • Improper lane changes or passing

Sometimes, proving that a driver was engaged in such a negligent behavior when the accident occurred can be more complex than you might imagine. For example, if you believe that the driver was texting, simply stating your belief in court will not necessarily be adequate evidence. Instead, you may have to present phone records, witness accounts corroborating your belief, and more in order to make a sufficient showing of negligence to win your case. An experienced auto accident lawyer understands how to present evidence of negligence in Philadelphia courts to ensure that you recover for your losses from the responsible party.

Car accident cases become even more complex when the negligent party is not another driver or even another person. Sometimes, the negligence of companies or government entities may be the cause of your accident. For instance, if an auto manufacturer produces and sells a vehicle with defective brakes and you lose control of your vehicle and crash, that manufacturer should be held liable for your injuries. Similarly, if a municipality fails to properly maintain the roadways and you crash due to a dangerous road condition, that city should compensate you for your losses. A skilled Philadelphia personal injury attorney will have the resources and skill necessary to bring claims against large corporations or government entities.

At times, another party may have acted negligently, though your actions may have also contributed to causing the accident. Just because you may have been partially at fault does not mean that you cannot recover or should not bring a personal injury claim against the other driver. Under Pennsylvania law 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 71023 (3), a court will attribute a percentage of fault to each party involved and, if the other party is found to be at least 51 percent responsible, you may still recover for their percentage of fault. For this reason, even if you believe you were partially at fault, you should still always consult with an experienced Philadelphia attorney to discuss a possible claim.

Proving Liability and Medical Damages

For an injured car accident victim to recover compensation for the injuries and damages sustained in an accident—and that were caused by someone else—the injured plaintiff must ordinarily prove negligence on the part of the at-fault driver.

Specifically, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that the at-fault driver had a duty to act as a reasonably prudent and careful driver under the circumstances; that the at-fault driver breached this duty of care, such as by speeding, exhibiting road rage, failing to yield the right-of-way, violating a traffic law or rule of the road, or otherwise driving in a careless or reckless manner; and that this breach resulted in the accident victim’s injuries and damages.

In personal injury cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is never on your side, and insurance adjusters will do everything in their powers to deny or limit their liabilities in car accident cases. When it comes to proving the existence and severity of personal injuries, and in particular, catastrophic injuries and damages, the accident victim has the burden of proof, and insurance adjusters can be extremely difficult to work with. Whenever an accident victim seeks compensation for serious injuries and damages, the insurance company will likely downplay the seriousness and extent of the injuries and will look for other possible causes of the injuries or impairments, such as:

  • Prior surgeries and medical procedures
  • Degenerative findings on X-rays, MRIs, or other imaging studies
  • Preexisting medical conditions or illnesses
  • Prior injuries
  • Diagnosed degenerative conditions
  • Prior motor vehicle or motorcycle accidents
  • Prior work-related injuries

When it comes to proving medical damages, a doctor, specialist, or other healthcare provider oftentimes must offer expert medical testimony at a deposition or trial to prove the existence and extent of injuries. An expert medical provider may testify about the accident victim’s medical treatment, the permanent nature of the injuries sustained, and objective findings generated from medical observations and permanency evaluations. All of this expert medical testimony can potentially increase the amount of compensation an accident victim might receive The injured accident victim also has the burden of connecting injuries and damages to the car accident. In other words, the injured plaintiff must show that the injuries and damages sustained would not have occurred but for the accident. That generally requires testimony from an expert medical provider, such as a treating doctor or medical specialist.

Disputed Liability in Philadelphia Car Accident Cases

In some Philadelphia car accident cases, insurance companies will dispute liability and try to place some (or all) of the blame on the injured plaintiff.

In cases where an insurance company disputes or denies liability, the doctrine of modified comparative negligence applies. This means that if an injured plaintiff is deemed 50 percent or less at fault, then the plaintiff can recover damages, minus the proportion of the plaintiff’s fault. In cases where an injured plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, Pennsylvania law prohibits compensation.

Helping Injured Auto Accident Victims Recover

Personal injury cases commonly arise from car accidents because victims often suffer very serious injuries that can have a lasting effect on their lives. Injuries that are commonly sustained by auto accident victims include:

Many injured victims require substantial medical care including emergency treatment, hospital stays, surgical procedures, repeated doctor and specialist visits, rehabilitative therapy, physical therapy, home health care, medical equipment and medications, and much more. In addition to incurring extensive medical expenses, many victims are unable to work while they recover, causing them to lose income or perhaps even their job. Victims who suffer catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain or spinal damage may never fully recover and may suffer permanent disability or disfigurement. Furthermore, injured motorists often temporarily or permanently lose their ability to enjoy their lives and may experience significant emotional effects of their injury, as well.

In addition to proving negligence, a personal injury claim also requires for you to prove your accident-related losses. Calculating losses is often a highly complicated task as many losses are intangible or may be suffered in the future. An experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer knows how to accurately calculate and prove damages to ensure you receive the maximum possible settlement or award. Such an award may include reimbursement for the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost income and benefits
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disfigurement or disabilities
  • Property damage

Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania’s limited tort insurance option prevents many injured motorists from recovering for noneconomic, intangible losses such as pain and suffering. However, an experienced Philadelphia attorney who fully understands Pennsylvania state law can work to prove that your injury is serious enough to meet the limited tort threshold or that other circumstances qualify your case for a limited tort exception so that you may fully recover for all monetary and non-monetary losses.

Proving Negligence in a Fatal Car Accident

Normally, if car accident victims suffer injuries due to the negligence of another, they have the right to recover for their losses from the responsible party by filing a personal injury claim. A deceased person is unable to file a lawsuit, however, so Pennsylvania state law provides other methods of holding any negligent parties responsible after a fatal auto accident. At the Levin Firm, we have a thorough understanding of these laws and are committed to helping surviving family members recover following a Philadelphia fatal car accident.

In order to recover in a wrongful death claim or survival action, plaintiffs have to make the same showing the victims would have to make in a personal injury claim had they lived—that another party was negligent in causing the accident and injuries.

Identifying the correct cause of the accident is highly important to ensure that the wrongful death claim is filed against the correct negligent party. An experienced Philadelphia attorney will know how to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident in order to identify negligence and gather evidence to help you prove your claim.

What to do after a Car Accident

Car Accident Crash Checklist

A car accident can be a harrowing experience. Following a collision, it is only natural that those involved may be shaken up, disoriented, or confused abouact what to do. However, though you may not realize it, there are certain actions that accident victims may take in order to preserve their legal right to recover for their losses at a later date. On the other hand, there are some actions that you always want to avoid, as they may hinder your chances of compensation. Though no one expects to be involved in a car accident, you should always be aware of the following checklist of things that you should and should not do following an accident. If you or anyone else is injured, call 911 or otherwise seek medical attention. Following a car crash, your health should be your primary concern. If you believe you require emergency medical attention, call 911 (or have someone else do it) and follow the instructions of the emergency personnel. Even if you do not need immediate medical attention, it is still entirely possible that you have suffered injuries and require treatment. You should always seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible following an accident. A medical professional can identify and document any injuries—even minor ones—that you sustained and can prescribe the proper treatment. These medical records may be used as evidenceof your accident-related injuries at a later date.

Collect information regarding the other parties involved.

Many car accidents involve more than two vehicles and, even if a particular vehicle does not seem damaged, you should always collect information regarding any car that was involved in the collision. Make sure you write down license plate numbers, identification numbers on commercial trucks,[2] and any other pertinent information. Obtain the driver’s license numbers, names, contact information, and insurance information from any drivers that were involved.

Collect information from any individuals who witnessed the accident.

In many cases, individuals who witness the accident may stop to provide help even if they were not involved in the actual wreck. You should always talk to these witnesses and obtain their names and contact information. You should also get an idea of what they saw occur, as well as inquire as to whether they would be willing to make a statement regarding their version of events. The more people you have to corroborate your story, the better.

File a police report.

Unless you need emergency medical attention, you should always call the police and stay at the scene of the accident until the police have arrived and you have spoken to them. In most situations, police should file a report, and you want to make sure your version of events is properly represented in that police report. A police report[3] can serve as documentation of the way the aftermath of the accident appeared and may include information that may be used as evidence of fault on the part of another party. On many occasions, a driver who knows he caused the accident will attempt to avoid getting the police involved. You should not be persuaded and should always speak to the police if you were the victim of a car accident.

Take photos and notes, if possible.

If you can, use your smart phone to take as many photographs of the accident scene as possible. Make sure that you photograph the damage to all vehicles involved, any tire marks on the road, the location of the accident, any potential road hazards that may have contributed to the accident, and more. In addition to photographs, you may want to take notes regarding your version of how the accident occurred, the weather or other relevant conditions, and anything else that may seem important. After an accident, it is all too easy to forget or misremember certain details of what occurred. Photos and notes can help to accurately refresh your memory[4] of the incident at later times.

DO NOT admit responsibility or fault for the accident to anyone.

Following an accident, many stressed victims may blurt out to other parties or police that they “were not paying attention” or that they “did not see the other car.” Though they may simply be expressing remorse, it is always a mistake to admit even the slightest fault immediately following a car accident. Insurance adjusters for the other party will almost certainly use any admission of possible wrongdoing to try to limit the amount of your settlement from their company as much as possible. In some cases, such an admission may even prevent a car accident from recovering at all. Even if you were partially at fault, you may still be able to recover partially for your losses[5] from other responsible parties, and you do not want to compromise any potential future legal claims.

DO NOT give an insurance adjuster a recorded statement.

You will almost certainly receive a call from an insurance adjuster soon after the accident. Though you should always be polite and cooperative by providing basic information—such as your name and contact information—you should not give them details of your version of events or permit them to record such a statement. Though an insurance adjuster may act like they are simply trying to help, know that they may use anything you say against you to limit the settlement you receive. Insurance company adjusters have their employer’s interests in mind, not yours. It is important to keep this in mind when discussing an auto accident with any insurance company agent that contacts you.

DO NOT accept an agreement or payment from an insurance company on your own.

Just like any other type of business, an insurance company’s primary focus is generally on its bottom line. For this reason, the settlement agreement they offer will often be much less than you deserve for your accident-related losses. Accepting an insurance settlement offer will prevent you from bringing a lawsuit to recover the full amount of your losses at a later date. As a result, you should never accept payment as a settlement[6] from another party’s insurance company without first exploring all of your options.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) reports[1] that 79,758 people were hurt in motor vehicle accidents during 2014. In many of these cases, the people who were injured were legally entitled to recover financial compensation for the losses they incurred as a result of their crash. Examples of the kinds of losses that may be compensable after a car accident include the costs of medical care, property damage, lost income, physical and emotional pain and suffering as well as others. Car accident victims should be aware of the fact that the things that they say and do at the scene of an accident can have an impact on their ability to recover compensation. The information below is intended to help people who have been involved in accident preserve their legal rights. Anyone seeking advice regarding their specific circumstances should contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Alert emergency responders

The first thing that people who are involved in accidents should do is call 911 to alert emergency responders to the fact that an accident has occurred. Doing so will call both police and emergency medical personnel to the scene, ensuring that any injuries that victims have sustained receive medical attention. In addition, law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene should generate a police report regarding the incident which will indicate how the accident occurred. This report can be extremely important if the events surrounding your accident are in dispute. Furthermore, police will also determine whether anyone involved in the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which can be relevant in determining legal liability in any civil case that may arise.

Collect information

Car accident victims who are able to do so should collect a variety of information about the way in which their accident occurred. Examples of the kinds of information that should be gathered and documented include the following:

  • Vehicle license plate numbers
  • The names of the other drivers
  • Contact information from witnesses
  • Insurance information
  • Photographs of the scene of the accident
  • DOT[2] Vehicle numbers
  • Business names or logos on vehicles
  • Police report number
  • The names of the officers on the scene
  • The location of nearby video cameras

Memories fade and evidence can be lost or destroyed. For this reason, it is important to document your observations regarding the accident as soon as possible after it occurs, even if your documentation is in the form of informal notes.

Say as little as possible regarding the accident and the role that you played

In many cases, people who have been involved in accidents are shaken up, confused, and upset. In this condition, you may say or do things that could indicate that you were at fault for the accident even if you were not. In addition, while you may feel bad about what happened, an apology worded the wrong way may actually be construed as an admission of liability by other parties. As a result, it is important for victims to say as little as possible regarding the accident to others. When speaking to law enforcement about the accident, be direct and answer questions, but do not offer more information than necessary.

Request medical attention

You should request that medical personnel on the scene evaluate your condition, even if you do not believe that you have been seriously injured. In many cases, the shock of being involved in an accident may make injuries seem much less serious than they actually are. In addition, there are many injuries, such as whiplash, which may become symptomatic for hours or even days after an injury occurs. Undergoing an evaluation at the scene of the accident will allow you to determine whether you need emergency medical treatment.

Top 5 Things to Do After a Car Crash in Philly

Even minor car accidents can be traumatizing due to the suddenness and the unexpectedness of the event. An impact can cause a lot of tension in your body that can remain for hours and it is normal to feel a bit disoriented. Many car accident victims are also upset at the driver they believe caused the crash.

It is important to remain calm after a collision, however, as what you do and say in the aftermath can have an effect on your legal rights as an accident victim – both positively or adversely. The following are some of the most important things you can do to preserve your legal rights and best interests after an auto accident.

Be Evaluated by Emergency Personnel

Some people can walk away from car accidents relatively unscathed while others sustain life-threatening injuries in a matter of seconds. In some cases, it will be obvious that a victim needs to be immediately taken to the hospital in an ambulance for emergency treatment and stabilization. However, other victims may need medical attention as soon as possible and may not realize how bad their injuries may be.

Allowing an emergency medical technician (EMT) to evaluate you can let you know whether you should remain at the scene of the accident or whether you need to be taken to the hospital. If the EMT thinks your injuries are serious enough to warrant an ambulance ride, you should heed their advice to best protect your physical health.

Call the Police

Involvement in an accident that results in an injury to oneself is not something most people expect. Car wrecks are often violent and traumatic and tend to leave those involved shaken, confused and uncertain about what to do next. Many people wonder whether they need to call the police or whether they can simply exchange information with the other driver and continue with their day.

The Law
Section 3746(a) of Title 75, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutesrequires that a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident report the incident to the police immediately if it involves:

injury to or death of any person; or damage to any vehicle involved to the extent that it cannot be driven under its own power in its customary manner without further damage or hazard to the vehicle, other traffic elements, or the roadway, and therefore requires towing.

As a result, you have an affirmative legal duty to call the police in the event that you have been injured in a car wreck in Pennsylvania. In addition, if the police do not investigate the accident, all drivers involved are required to submit a written driver’s accident report< to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation within five days of the accident.

The Benefits of Calling the Police

As an accident victim, there may be significant benefits involved in calling the police to investigate your accident—besidesthe obvious benefit of being in compliance with the relevant law.Under a legal doctrine known as negligence per se, individuals who are in violation of the law can often be held liable for any injuries they cause as a result of that violation without any further showing of evidence by the victim. Put more plainly, if the driver that hit you was breaking a traffic rule and receives a citation, that may be sufficient evidence for you to obtain compensation for your accident-related losses.

When you call the police after an accident, they will interview the people involved and any witnesses that may have seen the accident take place. They will also make a determination as to whether any laws were violated. If the police officers believe laws were broken, they will usually issue citations to the drivers who broke the law. In addition, they will likely perform sobriety testing on any drivers they suspect are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and arrest them if there is probably cause to do so.

In this way, having the police investigate your accident can make your case much easier to win, provided that you are not the at-fault party. Some of the of traffic violations that often lead to serious car crashes include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Texting and driving
  • Following too closely
  • Running stop signs or stop lights
  • Driving without headlights or taillights at night
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Malfunctioning vehicle lights
  • Reckless driving

The Benefits of Calling a Lawyer

Not only should you call the police after you are hurt in an accident, you should also call a lawyer. Here are some of the ways in which a lawyer can help you after you are hurt in a crash:

  • Evaluate your case and determine whether there is any evidence of negligence
  • Communicate with the insurance company and make sure that you do not say or do anything that could hurt your chances of recovering compensation
  • Determine your current and future economic and noneconomic losses and attempt to negotiate a settlement that fully compensates you for those losses
  • File a lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary

Perhaps the most notable benefit of retaining a lawyer after an accident is that it allows you to focus on the most important aspect of dealing with the aftermath of a serious wreck: your physical and emotional healing.

It is always wise to call the police when you believe someone else was at fault for your accident. In some cases, Pennsylvania lawmay even require police notification, such as in the case of severe injuries. When you give your version of what happened to the police, they should put it in their police report. This report can then be used in settlement negotiations and also can be used to refresh the officer’s memory if they testify at trial.

Furthermore, an officer will determine whether the other driver broke the law, including reckless driving, driving under the influence (DUI)or other traffic violations. If a ticket is issued or if the driver is charged with a crime, it can make your legal claim significantly easier.

Document the Accident

There is much information you can gather that will help your case at the scene of an accident, including:

  • Names and contact information of others involved in the crash
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses
  • Pictures of the conditions at the scene, damage to vehicles, and visible injuries

When you get home and have the chance, you should always make notes about what you remember happening before, during, and after the crash. Your memory of specific details or observation can easily fade by the time your legal case begins or a trial occurs, and your notes can refresh your memory.

Collect information–If you are able to remain on the scene of the accident, begin collecting as much information as possible. Record the names and contact information of all drivers involved or witnesses who stopped. Take down the license plate number or other identifying information of other vehicles. Take photos of the scene of the accident, including any conditions that are out of the ordinary such as road hazards, tire marks, or anything else that may seem relevant.

Write down your recollections–As soon as possible, you should write down your recollection of every possible detail of the events before, during, and after the accident. Memories fade and auto accident cases may take time to resolve, therefore such notes will ensure that you accurately remember the events and do not fail to recall important details at a later date.

See a Doctor

If you did not need an ambulance ride, you should still head to the emergency department or schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. First, this will make sure you receive any treatment that you didn’t know you needed. Even minor injuries can escalate and have complications, so it is better to seek treatment from the start.

In addition, it is important to have a diagnosis or all of your injuries documented in your medical records so you can prove your losses in a legal claim. Having a timely diagnosis also serves to connect your injuries with the accident so the other party cannot claim that you sustained your injuries at a later date.

Seek medical attention–If medical personnel on the scene believe that you require emergency medical attention, always follow their advice. Your health should be your number one priority and you should not risk greater injury by refusing to be transported to the hospital. If you do not require emergency care, you should always seek an evaluation from your doctor as soon as possible following the accident. A doctor can detect injuries that you may not even realize occurred and medical records can serve as important evidence in a car accident case.

Be careful when you speak with insurance companies

–You will likely be contacted by the insurance agents of the other parties involved in the accident. While it may seem like these agents are trying to help you, they may actually use what you say against you to limit their liability for any claims you bring. Never, under any circumstances, admit any fault or give details of your account to the other party’s insurance company. Instead, you should always communicate with these agents through an auto accident attorney with experience negotiating claims.

Once your physical health is stabilized, if you have incurred any losses from the accident, you should call to discuss your options with a skilled Philadelphia car accident lawyer as soon as you can. Even if your case can be resolved through an insurance claim, it is important to have a lawyer review any settlement offers you receive before you accept them. This is important for two reasons:

  • You may have miscalculated the value of your losses and may not realize the offer is inadequate; and
  • Once you accept an offer, you waive the right to file a legal claim or to seek additional compensation once you realize the offer was inadequate.

An attorney will protect your rights throughout this process and will negotiate for a fair offer whenever possible or help you file a legal claim.

Causes of Car Accidents

Defective Vehicle Parts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration[1] (NHTSA), over 2.3 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents during 2012. While the vast majority of accidents are the result of driver error[2], a substantial number each year occur as the result of defective vehicle equipment or parts. When these accidents occur, victims are often able to recover for their injuries and other losses by filing a lawsuit. Specific examples of the types of losses that are often recoverable include medical expenses, lost income, damage to property, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and others.

Product Liability Law

The area of law that allows people to hold designers, manufacturers, retailers, and other involved in the chain of commerce liable for injuries caused by defective products is known as product liability law.[3] Product liability claims generally arise from three distinct types of product defects. These are as follows:

Claims based on defective design – Defective design claims arise when the way that a product is designed make it inherently dangerous to use as it is intended. These types of defects usually affect all instances of a given product, not just a particular batch or lot. In the context of motor vehicle accidents, design defects could include issues such as vehicles that are inherently unstable or brakes pads or airbags that deploy with excessive force.

Claims based on defective manufacture – Claims that are based on defective manufacture arise when a product is manufactured in such a way as to make it unreasonably dangerous to use as intended. Common examples of manufacturing defects include using the wrong or substandard materials, improper assembly or construction, shoddy workmanship, or other manufacturing errors.

Claims based on failure to warn – Also known as defective marketing, these claims arise when a nonobvious danger posed by a consumer product could be easily mitigated by providing the consumer with a warning.

Legally, these claims can proceed under various theories, including negligence,[4] breach of express or implied warranty, or strict liability. The legal theory used in a particular car accident case will depend largely on the specific reason the accident occurred. In addition, various parties could be held liable in a product liability claim based on a defective vehicle or vehicle part, including the vehicle manufacturer, the designer or manufacturer of a specific part, or the retailer that ultimately sold the vehicle to the consumer.

What kinds of Vehicle Part Defects can Cause Accidents?

Modern motor vehicles are extremely complicated machines with literally thousands of parts that have the potential to fail. Some of the more common kinds of defects that often lead to motor vehicle accidents are detailed below.

Vehicle DefectsBrake Failure – Brakes are an essential part of any vehicle, allowing it to slow down and stop. When a vehicle’s brakes fail, a driver may be unable to control his or her vehicle, potentially resulting in a serious accident. Additionally, there are many aspects of modern brakes that have the potential to fail, including brake pads, brake lines, brake cylinders, and brake pedals.

Steering Mechanism Failure – A vehicle’s steering mechanism is what allows the driver to control the direction of the vehicle. When a steering mechanism fails, serious accidents can occur as a result. The specific parts of a steering mechanism that have the potential to fail include the power steering pump, hydraulic lines, tie rods, or the steering gear.
Tires – A vehicle’s tires are extremely important, as they are (or should be) a vehicle’s only point of contact with the ground. When tires fail, a driver could easily lose control of his or her vehicle. In addition, tire blowouts can occur suddenly and without warning, potentially resulting in a serious accident. Defective tires could include those that were manufactured with substandard rubber, improperly treaded tires, structural defects, or poor adhesion between tire belts and treads.
Windshield wipers – Most people do not think of windshield wipers as a particularly essential piece of equipment on their vehicle. Their opinion would likely change very quickly if their wipers failed during a heavy rain or snow storm. Without effective windshield wipers, a driver’s visibility would be significantly diminished in the event of adverse weather. As a result, defective windshield wipers have the potential to cause serious accidents.

Defective Airbags

Motor vehicles are constructed by putting together thousands of different parts, many of which play an important role in the safe operation of the vehicle. If one or more of these parts fail, the vehicle may not drive properly and may often cause the driver to lose control of the car. When a driver loses control, chances are high that they will collide with other vehicles or objects or may rollover. Such accidents can cause devastating injuries to any and all motorists involved. In such cases, the manufacturers responsible for selling the vehicle or the specific part should be held responsible because they negligently sold a defective and dangerous product.

When most people think of dangerous vehicle malfunctions, they generally think of brake failure, tire blowouts, and other events that can obviously lead to accidents and injuries. However, one particular part that can cause injury that you may never consider is your airbag. Airbags are installed in vehicles with the intention of keeping us safe in the event of a collision. They are meant to keep drivers in the front seat from hitting their heads against the dashboard or steering wheel or even from going through the windshield. Additionally, side airbags are used to prevent motorists from falling out of the car or hitting the ground during rollover accidents. Airbags do work to save lives, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports1 that airbags saved thousands of motorists from fatal injuries from 1987 to recent years. Unfortunately, in recent years, airbags have also caused unnecessary and severe injuries, as well.

How airbags can injure you

When a collision occurs, an inflater is triggered to suddenly fill up the airbag balloon, which deploys the airbag into the cabin of the vehicle at a high velocity. This velocity is necessary to ensure the motorist has adequate protection in a very short period of time following a collision. Due to the sheer speed and force of an airbag, many motorists suffer contusions, lacerations, or even burns or their arms and faces. These injuries are not due to any defect, however, but are simply an assumed part of having an airbag. This type of airbag injury is generally minor and heals relatively quickly.

When an airbag malfunctions, it has the possibility to cause injuries that may result in permanent disability or even death. For example, one defect caused airbags to suddenly inflate when no collision had occurred and while a driver was actively operating a vehicle. This not only shocked the driver, but also blocked their view of the road and forced their hands off of the wheel. As you can imagine, this led to numerous severe collisions and injuries.

Another airbag malfunction that recently came to the public’s attention was that a defective inflater would cause the airbag to inflate with such force that it could explode. When the bag exploded, shards of metal from the inner parts of the airbag were sent at high speeds towards drivers and passengers. These metal pieces caused devastating facial injuries, organ damage, and the death of at least six motorists.2 This particular airbag issue still exists in over 4 million cars on the road in the United States alone. Everyone should check to see if their vehicle has been recalled3 due to the potentially dangerous airbags and should follow all necessary instructions.

What if you have been injured by your defective airbag already?

If you have suffered injury because your airbag exploded or due to any other type of airbag defect, you should discuss your case with an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Personal injury cases arising from defective airbags can be complicated for many reasons. First, many different individuals who also suffered injuries from the same defect may have already filed legal claims against the manufacturer and the court may have combined all of the cases into lawsuit. You always need an attorney who understands how to handle these types of claims.

Additionally, legal claims against large companies can be challenging due to the resources and funding the company has to defend against the claim. You always want to seek out an attorney who has the resources needed to take on a corporation in court and help you get the compensation you deserve for your defective airbag injuries. For a free consultation, contact The Levin Firm today.

Airbags – Properly designed and manufactured airbags should deploy when a vehicle is involved in a significantly forceful collision. In some cases, however, defective airbags have been known to deploy randomly while driving, often causing serious motor vehicle accidents. In addition, defective airbags can cause serious injury even when they deploy correctly, especially if there is an issue with the rate of their deployment or the explosive charge used by the airbag manufacturer.

Injuries Associated with Car Accidents Caused by Defective Vehicle Parts

Like all motor vehicle accidents, those caused by defective vehicles or vehicle equipment can often cause serious injury. In some cases, car accident victims can develop serious and debilitating long-term complications as a result of their injuries, possibly keeping them from working or even living independently. Among the most common kinds of injuries that people sustain in car accidents caused by defective vehicles or vehicle parts include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Contusions
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Concussions
  • Sprains
  • Burns
  • Neurological injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Accidental amputations

Of course, there are many other kinds of injuries that can occur after a motor vehicle accident. Anyone who has been involved in a crash should seek medical attention immediately, even if they do not have any readily apparent injuries. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may take hours or even days to develop symptoms. By undergoing a medical evaluation, victims can be certain that their injuries are properly identified and treated.

Victims have options

Fortunately for people who are injured in accidents caused by defective vehicles or vehicle parts, in many cases they can recover for both their economic and noneconomic losses from the responsible manufacturer. In many cases, this recovery can be substantial and may compensate victims for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.

Distracted Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),[1] an estimated 421,000 Americans sustained injuries in 2012 due to accidents caused by a distracted driver. Additionally, 3,328 individuals tragically lost their lives because a driver was distracted. These numbers are alarming, especially since distracted driving is almost completely preventable in the majority of situations, and experts refer to distracted driving as a significant public health problem in the United States. In fact, the federal government has a division[2] devoted to combating the distracted driving epidemic through education about the risks.

Distracted drivers should be held accountable for their careless actions. Fortunately, Pennsylvania tort laws allow victims of auto accidents to recover from any party who acted in a negligent manner to cause their injuries. In many cases, victims can recover significant compensation for their losses, which can include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Categories of driving distractions

According to the CDC and other organizations, there are three primary categories of dangerous driving distractions:

  • Visual – any activity that causes you to take your eyes from the road ahead of you
  • Manual – any activity that causes you to take your hands away from the steering wheel
  • Cognitive – any activity that takes your mental focus off of driving

Many activities fit more than one category, making them even more dangerous. For example, reaching for a cell phone and dialing a number will take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road, so this would be classified as a visual-manual distraction.

Common dangerous distractions

Though most drivers are fully aware of the dangers of distracted driving, they continue to engage in a wide variety of potentially risky activities while behind the wheel on a regular basis. Some of the most common forms of driver distractions include the following:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Placing a voice call or talking on the phone
  • Adjusting the radio or music system
  • Listening to audiobooks or podcasts
  • Attending to passengers in the back seat
  • Holding a conversation with a passenger
  • Using a handheld mobile device to read or send messages
  • Browsing the internet
  • Setting a GPS
  • Reading (either electronically or in print)
  • Applying makeup
  • Other personal grooming

While some of these activities may seem relatively harmless, even the slightest distraction for a fraction of a second may be enough to cause a serious collision and result in devastating injuries. Many drivers do not realize that listening to an audiobook or simply talking to a passenger may significantly distract their focus from the road until it is too late. Drivers may additionally believe that hands-free technology will make using their mobile phone safe, though experts report[3] it is still quite risky due to cognitive distractions.

Texting and technology

Texting and DrivingWith the surge in mobile personal technology over the last two decades, the main focus of anti-distracted driving advocacy groups has been on technological communications while driving. First, the focus was on stopping drivers from talking on their cell phones behind the wheel. However, soon a more concerning activity took primary focus.

Texting is widely considered to be the most dangerous of all driving distractions. The term “texting” is used to generally refer to a variety of actions on any type of interactive wireless communication device (IWCD), which can include cell phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants, tablets, portable computers, or any related technological devices. Texting can generally include any of the following:

  • Text messages or iMessages
  • Emails
  • Instant messaging over Facebook or other websites
  • Typing information into a web browser or search engine
  • Any other type of text-based communication on a mobile device

Texting not only refers to the composition of one of the above messages by a driver, but also to reading incoming messages on a mobile device.

Texting is a top concern when it comes to distracted driving because both reading and writing messages involves all three categories of distraction—visual, manual, and cognitive. According to facts listed on Distraction.gov,[4] it takes approximately five seconds for the average driver to read or send a message. This means that a driver traveling a speed of 55 miles per hour would drive 100 yards—the length of an entire football field—without looking at the road.

Despite the alarming risks of this type of distraction, and despite state laws[5] making texting and driving illegal, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports[6] that at at given time during the day, an estimated 600,000 drivers in the United States are texting or otherwise using cell phones from behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Recovering after an accident with a distracted driver

Distracted Driving AccidentsVictims of distracted driving accidents can suffer catastrophic injuries that require extensive medical treatment and recovery time. During this period of recovery, the victim may likely be unable to work, attend school, or participate in everyday activities as usual. Some victims are left permanently disabled or disfigured and never return to life as they knew it prior to the accident. In these cases, a victim’s medical conditions could even require that they receive expensive around-the-clock medical care. Even if a victim suffers relatively minor injuries in an accident, he or she may still face substantial losses related to medical bills, lost wages, and more.

Bad Weather

Pennsylvania is known for having severe winter weather, often resulting in treacherous road conditions for motorists. Winter weather can affect vehicle performance and driver visibility, sometimes resulting in serious accidents. When these accidents are the result of driver carelessness or negligence, victims may be able to recover by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person or party responsible for your injuries. Proving negligence in a car accident case that occurs in bad weather can be a complicated issue, so it is advisable for those considering bringing a personal injury claim to consult with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

In order to hold someone legally responsible for losses caused by an accident, it is necessary to establish that he or she was acting negligently in some way. Generally speaking, a driver has a duty to maintain control of his or her vehicle at all times, and the failure to do so indicates negligence in and of itself. Sometimes, however, outside forces such as high winds or falling debris causes a vehicle to lose control completely independent of any driver error. In poor weather, many drivers (or their insurance companies) will try and deny responsibility for an automobile accident, arguing that the accident occurred simply due to poor weather. It is important to note, however, that drivers are required to use an appropriate level of care considering the weather in which they are driving. For example, although doing the speed limit is completely legal, it may not be reasonable in a heavy snow storm. Other ways in which a driver may negligently cause an accident in bad weather include:

  • Failure to use windshield wipers
  • Failure to use headlights
  • Improper vehicle maintenance
  • Driving on worn tires
  • Taking turns too quickly
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Driver while fatigued

These are just some of the ways in which a driver may negligently cause an accident in poor weather, and an attorney can help you determine whether and against whom you may have a claim. In addition to other drivers, vehicle and vehicle equipment manufacturers can be held responsible if a manufacture or design defect results in an accident.

Emergency Vehicles

philadelphia emergency vehicle accident

When a serious accident, injury, or illness occurs, the first call that goes out is often to emergency personnel including the fire department, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers. Because of the inherently urgent nature of emergencies, emergency vehicles are equipped with sirens and lights that can allow them to ignore traffic signals, drive the wrong way in a lane of traffic, pass cars in a way that would otherwise be unlawful, speed, and other potentially dangerous traffic behaviors.

Simply because drivers of emergency vehicles have the right to take liberties with traffic laws, they still have a duty to avoid driving in an unreasonably dangerous manner that may cause additional and unnecessary injuries to motorists. When an emergency driver fails to do so, they may be found negligent and held responsible for any injuries that resulted. Some examples of possible negligence can include:

  • Not properly using a siren and lights to notify drivers of possibly unusual traffic maneuvering
  • Speeding through intersections without first looking to make sure the way is clear
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Taking turns at too high of a speed
  • Trying to fit through spaces that are too narrow

Collisions involving emergency vehicles may occur more often than you may believe since generally these are the vehicles who are coming to help, not to cause more damage and injury. The following are some statistics regarding accidents involving emergency response vehicles in the United States.

Fire truck collisions

  • Collisions involving motor vehicles are the second-leading cause of death on the job for firefighters. [1]
  • From 2000 to 2009, fire trucks and vehicles were involved in an estimated 31,600 collisions.
  • 70 percent of those collisions happened while the fire truck was reporting to an emergency.
  • 49 collisions resulted in at least one death.
  • Two-thirds of fatal fire truck accidents involved a rollover accident.

Ambulance collisions

The following statistics are from a 2014 report on ambulance crashes published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): [2]

  • An average of 2,600 people sustain injuries in ambulance accidents on an annual basis.
  • About 33 people die in ambulance accident every year.
  • 35 percent of ambulance accidents cause injury or death.
  • Of the ambulance-related fatalities, 4 percent were the drivers of the ambulances, 21 percent were people being transported by the ambulance, 12 percent were non-occupants of any vehicle, and 63 percent were occupants of other vehicles involved in the collision.

Police car collisions

  • Police car pursuits led to about 300 fatal crashes in one year.
  • Almost one-third of fatalities were people who were not part of the pursuit and were either in other vehicles or were pedestrians.

These statistics could be very low, however, as a recent investigation indicated [3], in its attempt to report information on all types of traffic crashes, NHTSA failed to track all police car-related accidents and fatalities and the true number may be thousands of fatalities higher.

If you are injured in a collision due to a negligent fire truck, ambulance, or police car driver, you deserve to be properly compensated just like after any other type of accident. These cases, however, often involve government entities and, therefore, can have additional complications that are not at issue in a regular auto accident case. For example, claims against the government have different deadlines and requirements and you do not have as much time to bring your case. For this reason, you should always contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible following this type of accident and you should make sure that attorney knows how to handle claims against the government.

Out of Town Drivers

According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,[1] in excess of 2.3 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents during 2012. Car accidents are capable of leaving victims with serious injuries, some of which have the potential to result in life-long complications. In some cases, victims may even be unable to work or to care for themselves after an accident occurs. When car crashes are the result of someone else’s negligence, victims can often recover for their injuries by filing a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company or bringing a personal injury lawsuit. It is for this reason that anyone who has been hurt in a car wreck should retain legal counsel as soon as possible.

The American population is constantly traveling to other cities and states for various reasons. In some cases, people are required to go to an unfamiliar city or area in order to take care of some type of bureaucratic task or responsibility, others travel for work, while still others visit other cities and states simply for pleasure. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics,[2] most long-distance trips are taken by personal vehicle. As a result, there are many drivers on the road who are unfamiliar with the area in which they are driving, potentially exposing themselves and others to a risk of injury. There are a number of reasons that out-of-town drivers can cause accidents, some of which are detailed below.

Unfamiliar terrain and weather may confuse out-of-area drivers

The United States has a vast array of different climates and natural terrains within the contiguous 48 states. Each one of these areas presents its own set of difficulties and challenges to drivers who live in and visit them. For example, mountain passes in the Rockies can be extremely difficult to navigate for a person from the Midwest, and an Atlanta native may find driving in an inch of snow incredibly treacherous. As a result, people who visit other areas that have climates and terrain of which they are unfamiliar may cause accidents because of their lack of experience.

Visitors to Philadelphia may be unfamiliar with city driving

Philadelphia is a major American city with a significant amount of vehicle traffic at any given moment. Driving in a city is substantially different than rural or even small-town driving, and people visiting Philadelphia may have problems adjusting to the flow of traffic. Cities tend to have more one-way streets, intersections with restricted turns, pedestrian traffic, and narrow lanes than other areas. These characteristics can make it difficult for drivers who are inexperienced with city driving to adjust.

Tourists or guests may be unfamiliar with the idiosyncrasies of your area

Most American cities contain areas that have unique or otherwise strange roadway issues. Examples could include a road that suddenly becomes one way at a certain intersection, places where there is unexpected merging traffic, roadways that have sudden changes in speed limits, or particularly dangerous intersections or curves. Not being familiar with these issues is no excuse for driver negligence and, when drivers fail to observe traffic laws, victims can often recover for their injuries.

Can I sue an out-of-state driver after a car accident?

In almost every conceivable case, yes. If you are involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, the fact that the accident occurred within the state’s borders gives the state courts jurisdiction over the matter and the person with whom you collided.

Do I need to retain an attorney?

There is no law that says that a car accident victim is required to retain legal counsel. That being said, it is often highly advisable to do so. In many cases, the assistance of an attorney can help Philadelphia car accident victims obtain significantly more compensation than they would be able to obtain by representing themselves. In addition, in the event that liability in your case is contested, an attorney can investigate the way that the accident occurred and obtain evidence tending to show that the other party or parties involved were legally at fault. Examples of the types of damages that are often available in a Philadelphia car accident case include medical expenses, lost income, loss of enjoyment of life, property damage, and loss of future earning potential, as well as others. To determine whether you have a claim, call the Levin Firm today at 877-825-8542.

Aggressive Drivers

Driving or riding in a motor vehicle comes with an inherent risk of accidents and injuries. These risks significantly increase, however, when other drivers on the road act in an irresponsible manner. While some drivers simply make a mistake, others may purposefully decide to drive in a dangerous manner. If an intentionally dangerous driver causes an accident, all injured victims have the right to recover for their losses from that driver.

Aggressive driving behaviors

All drivers may become impatient at some point. Traffic, stop lights, and slow drivers can always be frustrating, especially if you are in a hurry or running late. However, it is highly important to not let your impatience and frustration lead to dangerous or even threatening driving behaviors. Even if you remain calm, though, there is still a chance that other aggressive drivers will cause an accident.

Aggressive driving behaviors include the following:

  • Expressing anger and frustration – Aggressive drivers often yell at other drivers, make offensive or threatening gestures, excessively honk their horns or flash their lights, all of which can be dangerously distracting to other drivers.
  • Violating traffic laws[2] – Aggressive drivers tend to violate traffic laws in many different ways. For example, common behaviors include speeding, tailgating, unnecessary lane changes on a frequent basis, running red lights or stop signs, running cars off the road, passing on the wrong side, and more.
  • Following cars off the road – In certain extreme cases of aggressive driving, a driver’s anger may lead them to follow another car off the road. Once they are in a parking lot or stopped in another area, the aggressive driver may get out and threaten to hurt the other driver, may display weapons, or may even become physically violent.

As you can imagine, all of the above behaviors can result in collisions and other encounters that may result in physical injury. The law allows you to hold an aggressive driver responsible for their actions and for covering all of your losses, including medical costs, lost income, and more.

How to Avoid aggressive driving accidents

While you cannot control the actions and emotions of other drivers, you can take certain steps to try to avoid harmful encounters. The following are only some suggestions for avoiding aggressive driving accidents:

  • Give them space – Whenever possible, get out of the path of an aggressive driver as quickly as possible. Move over a lane or even pull over if you can safely do so in order to let them pass you. You should not try to speed up or hold your own in a lane. If you simply allow them to pass by, hopefully they will not have an effect on you.
  • Do not retaliate – If another driver yells at you or makes any obscene or rude gestures, you should swallow your pride and avoid gesturing back. If you engage them in any way, it can only encourage their aggressive behavior and escalate the situation.
  • Do not hit the brakes – If an aggressive driver is tailgating you, you should never hit your brakes to try to scare them or get them to back off. Instead, you should allow them to pass you. Hitting the brakes unexpectedly can only increase the chances that they will crash into the back of your car.
  • Report the driver to authorities – If a driver is being dangerous or seems like they may be violent, call the police to help you. Even if you are able to drive away from the aggressive driver, the police can stop them so that they do not continue to put drivers at risk.

Risks of Road Trips

With kids out of school, summer is a popular time for families to embark on road trips across the country. Road trips are a good way to see many different cities and sights in one vacation, however, this type of trip does not come without serious risks of accidents and injuries. In order to avoid accidents on road trips and maximize your family’s enjoyment, you should take the following precautions and more before and during your time on the road.

Plan your route carefully

Road trips can cover many miles and chances are good that you will be driving on relatively unfamiliar roads during your vacation. You should carefully map out your route and know where you are going ahead of time to avoid directional issues or confusion. If you plan to travel through mountains, familiarize yourself with safe driving techniques in that kind of terrain. Additionally, look ahead to see if there are any construction zones or other potential hazards on your route. Check the weather for each leg of your trip and make sure to have working windshield wipers, air conditioning, heat, defroster, or any other equipment that may be necessary in adverse weather conditions.

Perform maintenance on your vehicle

Prior to driving your car for hundreds of miles, you should always get an inspection and a tune-up. A mechanic should check for low fluid levels, worn brakes, worn tires, and much more to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive. Check the recall website provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)[1] to make sure no parts on your vehicle are potentially defective and subject to recall. Make sure you then leave plenty of time to have any possibly dangerous parts replaced before your embark on your trip.

Be careful around commercial vehicles

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),[2] there are more than 10 million commercial trucks registered in the United States. At any given point in time, millions of tractor-trailers and similar commercial vehicles are on the roads across the United States. These trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and cause devastating damage and injury when involved in a collision with a smaller passenger vehicle. For this reason, you should always understand how to safely drive around commercial vehicles. This includes staying out of their blind spots—commonly referred to as “no-zones”–whenever possible. You should also never change lanes too closely in front of a truck, as the driver may not be able to slow down the heavy vehicle as quickly as needed to avoid a collision. Give trucks plenty of space on the highway and practice defensive driving when around commercial vehicles.

Avoid distracted driving

It is only natural that having your family in the car together for hours may cause many distractions. However, it is always dangerous to take your mind off of driving, take your hands off the wheel, or take your eyes off the road. Whenever possible, have another adult in the car to tend to children or handle other distractions as they will inevitably arise. Have a navigator in the car so you do not have to read a map or program a GPS while you are driving. Whenever possible, avoid eating or drinking and never use a handheld mobile device while behind the wheel. Have plenty of activities for children to keep them occupied so it will minimize your distracted driving.[3]

Avoid fatigued driving

Road trips can involve many hours behind the wheel at a time and it is very easy for drivers to become fatigued or sleepy. If you are feeling tired, you should always pull over and rest or change drivers whenever possible. Try to keep driving shifts short so you do not lose focus. Do not rely on coffee or other energy boosters to stay awake. Instead, take plenty of time to sleep or rest in between driving shifts. Driving while fatigued can lead to serious accidents, especially if you nod off while you are driving.

Unfortunately, even if you take all necessary safety precautions before and during a road trip, collisions and other accidents that are beyond your control may still occur. In such situations, you may be entitled to compensation from any negligent drivers, companies, or government entities that led to your accident. You can hold negligent parties liable for your accident-related losses by filing a claim for personal injury in court. This process can be complicated, so you always want to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Road Rage & Traffic Violations

road rageRoad rage and driver impatience can have deadly consequences on Philadelphia highways and roads. In short, when drivers fail to exercise proper care and safety on the roads and drive their vehicles in hurried ways, they are more likely to violate traffic laws, which in turn leads to serious car accidents.

If you sustained personal injuries and damages in a car accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, the experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at The Levin Firm are ready and willing to assist with your case. Our experienced car accident attorneys can meet to discuss the facts and circumstances of your individual case, negotiate a settlement offer with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, litigate your case through the Pennsylvania court system, and take your case to trial, if necessary.

There is no doubt that driving a motor vehicle can sometimes be a frustrating experience, especially in a large city such as Philadelphia. People are often in a hurry and can get angry at traffic jams, slow drivers, and other obstacles that prevent them from reaching their destination quickly enough. Unfortunately, some people allow such driving frustrations to lead them to engage in aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, speeding, or overly frequent and dangerous lane changes. Such aggressive driving behaviors often lead to auto accidents and injuries to other motorists. If you have suffered injury in an accident due to an aggressive driver, you deserve proper compensation for your losses and should contact an experienced Philadelphia auto accident lawyer as soon as possible for assistance.

Sometimes, however, frustration on the road can escalate beyond simple aggressive driving behaviors to full on road rage. Road rage manifests itself in deliberately dangerous driving behaviors that target other motorists on the road. Some road rage behaviors include the following:

  • Chasing down other drivers
  • Purposely not allowing other cars to merge
  • Cutting other cars off in a lane
  • Honking the horn excessively
  • Flashing lights
  • Passing cars on the shoulder or the median
  • Making rude or threatening gestures
  • Yelling threats or abusive language
  • Throwing objects from the vehicle
  • Displaying a firearm or other weapon to scare other drivers
  • Deliberately hitting another car or causing an accident
  • Getting out of the car at stoplights or parking lots to threaten, confront, or even assault other motorists

Though some of these behaviors may seem extreme, approximately 1200 cases of road rage are reported each year, with over 300 cases resulting in serious injuries or even death.

Philadelphia car accidents can lead to serious and sometimes catastrophic injuries. The sad thing about car accidents is that most are entirely avoidable. When Pennsylvania drivers fail to exercise self-control and become angry and impatient with other drivers, they tend to operate their vehicles in careless and reckless ways, resulting in serious accidents, property damage, and personal injuries.

Common examples of traffic violations that result from road rage and hurried driving include:

  • Failing to yield to emergency vehicles
  • Tailgating other drivers or following them too closely
  • >Exceeding the posted speed limit
  • Aggressive, careless, or reckless driving
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions (such as rain, snow, or ice)
  • Failing to follow posted warning signs and other traffic signs
  • Failing to use appropriate turn signals
  • Failing to obey traffic lights and other traffic control devices

Types of Auto Accidents

Single Car Collisions

Motor vehicle accidents are a serious public health issue in the United States. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration[1] (NHTSA), there were more than 2.3 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents during 2013. Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are capable of causing serious injuries, some of which have the potential to leave victims with significant medical problems or even permanent disabilities. As a result, it is important for anyone injured in any type of car accident to discuss their case with an auto accident lawyer who is qualified to represent the legal rights of vehicle manufacturers.

When most people think of a car crash they probably imagine a collision involving two or more vehicles. While these kinds of accidents are common and can certainly cause serious injuries, a significant number of people are injured in single-vehicle accidents each year. Importantly, simply because only one vehicle was involved in an accident does not mean that accident victims cannot recover for their injuries. As is the case with any other type of injury-causing accident, people who can establish that their accident was the result of someone else’s legal negligence[2] are generally entitled to financial compensation for the losses that they sustain as a result of the accident. The kinds of losses that are generally recovered in a motor vehicle accident case include medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and physical and emotional pain and suffering, among others.

There a number of parties that could potentially be held liable after a single-car accident in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

The vehicle manufacturer

Many single vehicle accidents are the result of vehicle or vehicle equipment defects. Pennsylvania premises liability law allows people injured by defective consumer products to file a legal claim to recover. Some of the more common vehicle parts that can cause accidents when they fail include the following:

  • Brakes
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Headlights
  • Windshield wipers
  • Tires
  • Axles
  • Airbags
  • Anti-lock braking systems
  • Taillights
  • Accelerator pedals

In some cases, the fact that an accident was caused by a vehicle defect may not be apparent to people injured in the accident. For this reason, anyone who has been involved in a single-vehicle accident should have facts of their case reviewed by an attorney familiar with handling motor vehicle accident cases. When you retain an attorney, he or she will thoroughly investigate your accident and determine whether any evidence of vehicle defects exist.

The party responsible for road design and maintenance

In some cases, a single vehicle accident is the result of poor or negligence road design or maintenance. Common examples of the kinds of road defects that often lead to accidents include malfunctioning stoplights, inadequate guardrails, non-existent or faded lane markings, overgrown foliage, lack of signage, or poor road surfaces or potholes. When accidents caused by defective road design or maintenance occur, victims can file a claim against the party responsible for the roadway on which the accident occurred. In many cases, the party responsible for the design and maintenance of the road is a government agency, which means a special set of legal rules will apply to any legal claims. Consequently, anyone injured in a single-vehicle accident that they suspect was caused by poor road design or maintenance should contact a Philadelphia car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Other drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists

Simply because only one vehicle was involved in an accident does not mean that the accident was not caused by the negligence of another person on the road. Many single-vehicle accidents occur because of the negligent actions of other people on the road. For example, if another motorist suddenly pulled out into traffic forcing another driver to take evasive action causing an accident, victims may be able to sustain a claim against the driver of the other vehicle. The same holds true for pedestrians or bicyclists who cause accidents through their negligent conduct.

Rollover Accidents

There are many different types of possible auto collisions, including rear-end accidents, head-on collisions, side swipes, among others. One type of accident that has a particularly significant chance to cause severe or even fatal injuries is a rollover accident.Rollover accidents happen when something triggers a car or truck to roll onto its side, onto its roof, or even roll several times. When a rollover occurs, all occupants of the vehicle may experience many different points of impact and risk being ejected from the vehicle. Despite side airbags, seatbelts, and other safety features, victims of rollover accidents often suffer severe injuries.

Victims of rollover accidents may have the right to obtain substantial financial recovery from any responsible parties. However, determining liability in a rollover accident can be challenging. This is because it is common for more than one party to contribute to a rollover accident. In such cases, it can be complicated to identify all of the possibly negligent parties and file your legal claims accordingly. It is important to have an experienced Philadelphia auto accident attorney on your side who has the knowledge and resources to investigate your accident and file all of the appropriate claims.

Negligent drivers

Some rollover accidents occur because a driver was negligent. If you are a passenger in a vehicle, the driver could take a turn too fast or engage in distracted driving, which can lead to a rollover accident. Additionally, rollovers commonly occur because another driver was not watching and runs your vehicle off the road or runs into the side of your car. Semi-trucks can also roll over and cause significant damage to any cars that may be driving nearby. Overcorrecting, oversteering, and swerving can all result in a vehicle tumbling and rolling. Any drivers that contributed to your rollover crash may be held liable for your losses.

Road hazards

Often, single-car rollovers occur because of certain triggers on the road. Such triggers can include hitting potholes or uneven pavement, having speed limits set too high on dangerous curves, and similar dangerous conditions on the roads. Government entities that are responsible for keeping the roads safe and well-maintained can make mistakes and these governments should be held responsible for their negligent actions or omissions that resulted in rollover accidents, property damage, and injury.

Products liability claims

Another common cause of rollover accidents is vehicle defects. Tire blowouts or other malfunctions can cause a driver to lose control of their car and lead the vehicle to rollover. Additionally, some cars that are dangerously designed may have an increased chance of rolling over if involved in a collision. Trucks, minivans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and other vehicles with a particularly high center of gravity have an especially high risk of rolling over and causing serious injury. Such vehicles should always have adequate roll bars or roll cages to keep the roof of the vehicle from collapsing should a rollover accident occur. If these narrow and tall vehicles do not have such safety features, victims may suffer more serious injuries that they would have under other circumstances. Additionally, if side airbags fail to deploy due to a defect, a vehicle occupant can suffer significantly more serious injuries than they perhaps would have if the airbags worked as intended.

Shared fault in Pennsylvania

In many situations, a rollover accident is the fault of more than one party. For example, if another driver was distracted and runs you off the road and you then hit a pothole that causes your vehicle to rollover, both the negligent driver and the entity responsible for road maintenance may share liability in your accident. Under Pennsylvania’s Fair Share Act, each party will only be responsible for their portion of the damages based on their portion of liability. For example, if another driver was 50 percent responsible for the damage and the other 50 percent of the liability lies with the government, you will have to bring claims against both parties in order to fully recover. Additionally, Pennsylvania law allows you to recover even if you were also partially at fault in causing the rollover accident. If you were not paying attention and then failed to slow down before you encountered a dangerous road condition, you can still recover for a portion of your losses as long as you were less than 50 percent at fault.

Read-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when the front bumper of one motor vehicle collides with the back end of another motor vehicle. This type of accident is often referred to as a “fender bender” and is generally considered to be a relatively minor type of auto collision. However, while many rear-end collisions do happen at low speeds and cause little damage, others can be surprisingly serious.

For instance, if two cars are traveling at highway speeds of 55 miles per hour or more and one car suddenly slams on its brakes, the rear car may not have time to brake at all before it crashes into the front car. This means that a vehicle driving at fast speeds may hit a completely or nearly stopped car with almost no warning. You can likely imagine the extent of the damage and injury this may cause to occupants of both vehicles.

Rear-end collisions are often caused by negligence

Most rear-end collisions happen because one or both drivers acted negligently in some manner. Some examples of negligence that commonly leads to rear-end accidents include:

  • Distracted driving, most often involving visual distractions such as texting, reading, or looking in the backseat
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while overly fatigued to the point where a driver completely loses focus or actually falls asleep behind the wheel.
  • Aggressive driving including speeding, following much too closely, and cutting other drivers off
  • Trying to speed through a yellow light at an intersection without paying attention to what the vehicle in front is doing

Rear-end collisions and commercial trucks

Rear-end accidents only become more severe if a commercial truck is involved. If a commercial truck collides into the back of a small passenger vehicle, the 80,000-pound truck often has enough weight to simply drive over and crush the small car. This is commonly referred to as an override accident and is usually deadly. In addition, if a small car collides with the back of a commercial truck, it can often actually get stuck under the back of the trailer. This is referred to as an underride accident and can instantly kill any motorists in the front of the car if the windshield collides directly with the back of the truck. Though trucks are required to have under ride guards[3] to prevent this type of accidents, many of these guards are not effective enough at keeping cars from driving under the trailer.

Rear-end accidents on bicycles and motorcycles

Rear-end collisions can also be particularly serious when they involve a bicycle or motorcycle. Whether the car hits the back of the cycle or vice versa, the rider is more often than not flipped forward off of their bike. After being thrown from the bike, the rider often hits the car or other objects before usually landing hard on the ground. These multiple impacts usually happen with little to no protection on their bodies except for a helmet, which can crack be damaged on impact and may not provide adequate head protection either. For these reasons and more, bicyclists and motorcyclists are at risk for catastrophic injuries in rear-end collisions.

Types of injuries that may occur

Some examples of the injuries that may occur to motorists, bicyclists, or motorcyclists in a rear-end accident include as follows:

  • Fractured facial bones
  • Broken jawbone
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Damage to or destruction of teeth
  • Whiplash
  • Other neck and back injuries
  • Crushed limbs
  • Broken bones
  • Internal organ damage and bleeding
  • Deep bruising or contusions
  • Road rash and serious burns
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI)

Most of these injuries can result in astronomical medical bills due to emergency trauma care, hospitalization, medical equipment, surgical procedures, medications, home health care, assisted living, rehabilitation, and any other treatment deemed necessary. Furthermore, most victims of serious rear-end accidents must miss work while they are recuperating and they therefore lose income that they rely on to pay bills and support their household. If a victim suffers permanent disability due to an SCI, TBI, or another catastrophic injury, they may never be able to work or return to normal life again. Victims may also experienced severe pain and suffering as well as emotional distress due to their injuries.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions are some of the most deadly traffic accidents that can occur. These accidents generally happen when both vehicles are in motion and are sometimes traveling at higher speeds, which can increase the impact of the crash. Many head-on collisions can result in the ejection of a motorist or a motorist becoming trapped inside their vehicle, which can both result is catastrophic injuries. The following are some common acts of negligence that cause head-on collisions and the resulting injuries:

Distracted driving – Distracted driving behaviors often involve a driver taking their eyes off the road in front of them. This is especially the case when a driver is texting, emailing, browsing social media or the web, programming a GPS, or similar activities. A driver may also look away from the road if the must reach into the back seat or are paying greater attention to children in the back of the car than they are to the road. When a driver stops looking at the road, it is common that they depart from their intended lane. If they cross over the left lane marker, they can suddenly be in the path of oncoming traffic and a head-on collision can occur.

Driving under the influence (DUI) When a driver is intoxicated, it is often difficult for them to stay focused on the road or to maintain complete control over the vehicle. For this reason, drunk drivers are often characterized as swerving. In some situations, a drunk driver may unknowingly swerve across the center line and cause a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle. In addition, drunk drivers are notorious for traveling the wrong way on one-way streets and highways, which consistently leads to this type of accident.

Third party drivers – Under certain circumstances, neither driver involved in a head-on collision may be at fault. If a third party driver acts in a dangerous manner and suddenly forces another driver to depart from their lane, they should be held responsible for the damage and injuries suffered by the motorists involved in a crash. These types of cases can be complicated, however, so the third party driver usually fails to stop at the scene of the accident and may not even realize that a crash took place. Cases involving “phantom” vehicles can have certain time limits and requirements [2] that other cases do not in order to recover under uninsured motorist policies. For this reason, if a phantom vehicle caused your head-on collision, you should never delay in contacting an attorney as soon as you can after the crash.

Road conditions – Neither driver may be at fault in a head-on collision if one driver lost control due to a defect or obstacle in the roadway. Large potholes, cracks, or icy patches can cause a tire blowout or a driver to lose steering ability and a collision may result. In addition, if there is an obstacle in the road that should have been removed, a driver may instinctively swerve around it and crash into an oncoming car. In such situations, the municipality responsible for road maintenance may be held liable for all injury-related losses. Cases against the government also have special time limitations, however, so call an attorney immediately if a road defect caused your accident.

Car defects – Just like a road defect can cause a driver to lose control, so can defective auto parts. Brakes, tires, steering systems, and more can all lead a driver to depart from their lane if they suddenly malfunction. In these cases, the manufacturer that produced and sold the defective auto part should be held accountable under products liability [3] legal principles. Taking on a large automotive manufacturer can be intimidating, so you always want an attorney on your side who has the experience and resources needed for this type of case.

Types of Injuries in Car Accidents

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a highly common injury in auto accidents. Many TBI victims will spend time unconscious or in varying states of consciousness due to their injuries. The following in some information about how a TBI can affect consciousness.

TBIs, occur when a bump, blow, or jolt to the head results in a disruption in normal brain function. In addition, an object that penetrates the skull can also result in a traumatic brain injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates[3] that approximately 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year in the United States. While minor traumatic brain injuries are self-resolving and require little medical intervention, they still have the potential to leave victims with significant complications that may keep them from working or affect their quality of life. In addition, when TBIs are more severe, they can result in serious medical issues that can include the following:

  • Problems with speech
  • Cognitive problems
  • Memory issues
  • Difficulty with motor control
  • Inability to engage in daily tasks without assistance

TBIs are serious injuries, and anyone that has hit his or her head in a car accident or experienced headaches afterwards should seek medical attention immediately.

 

Coma and Medically Induced Coma – Coma is perhaps the most commonly-known state of unconsciousness. If a person is in a coma, they are asleep and cannot be awakened, even due to pain or other extreme stimuli. A typical coma lasts for a few days to a few weeks. However, some people never emerge from a coma and other emerge with serious cognitive issues. Many victims of moderate to severe brain injury will spend some time in a coma and the seriousness of the injury is often gauged on the length of unconsciousness. Even if a TBI victim is not in a coma, doctors give them anesthetics to medically induce a coma to limit brain function and reduce life-threatening brain swelling until they are stabilized.

Persistent Vegetative State – When a person wakes up from a coma, they may be in various states of consciousness, one of which is the persistent vegetative state. In this state, a victim can sleep and wake up, however, they have little to no awareness when they are awake. Though their eyes may move and they may appear to jump at a loud noise, they are not able to consciously respond to stimuli in the environment.

Minimally Responsive State – Like the persistent vegetative state, a victim in a minimally responsive state has a sleep-wake cycle. While they still have highly limited awareness of their surroundings and limited ability to respond, they may be able to follow instructions for very simple tasks to blink or nod, for example. However, they often will not be able to follow commands every time, as their responsiveness level may be inconsistent. They may also appear to cry or smile, but not necessarily in response to anything in their environment.

Locked-In Syndrome – The is one of the most frightening potential effects of brain injury and is also rare, though possible. A victim with locked-in syndrome [2] has no control over any voluntary muscle movement, including their vocal chords, so they cannot move or speak apart from often being able to move their eyes. They are, however, fully cognitively aware of their self and their surrounding though they cannot independently communicate thoughts or respond. Victims with locked-in syndrome can live for a long time like this as their organs often continue to function properly. They may require costly equipment and computers to translate eye movements into words if they want to communicate and will require full-time care for their basic needs.

Brain Death – Brain death [3] occurs when all of the brain functioning stops and is deemed irreversible. Victims will not regain consciousness, are often pronounced dead, and their organs are able to be donated at this point.

Many brain injury victims who are in a coma or another state of unconsciousness suddenly emerge from that state and wake up. Some have almost full awareness and others will need time to improve. However, there is often no telling whether a particular victim will be unconscious for a short period of time or whether they will never wake up. This puts family members in an extremely difficult position, especially if their loved one is in a coma or a persistent vegetative state. The quality of life for their loved is extremely low and they may want to consider taking them off of any life support. However, this is a very difficult decision to make due to the possibility they may someday wake up. Care for an unconscious loved one can be very costly.

Spinal Cord Injuries

backpain

The CDC reports[4] that there are approximately 12,000 to 20,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCIs) each year. In addition, a spinal cord injury can cost between $500,000 and $3 million for medical expenses over a person’s lifetime, depending on its severity. These injuries are classified into two main categories:

Incomplete spinal cord injuries – A spinal cord injury is characterized as incomplete when the victim has some feeling or mobility below the site of the injury.

Complete spinal cord injuries – A spinal cord injury is characterized as complete when the victims has no feeling or mobility below the site of the injury.

The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. As a result, any injury to the spinal cord or damage to the vertebrae that protect the spinal cord can result in serious complications. These may include complete or partial paralysis, loss of feeling, muscle weakness, and loss of full range of motion. In addition, people who sustain spinal cord injuries may also suffer from additional complications, include:

  • Bladder control problems
  • Bowel control problems
  • Pressure sores
  • Problems with circulation
  • Issues with respiration
  • Muscle tone problems
  • An overall decline in fitness and wellnes
  • Issues with sexual health
  • Pain
  • Depression

These and other issues that may occur after a spinal cord injury can substantially affect a person’s quality of life and may keep them from working for a significant period of time. As a result, individuals who suspect that they have sustained a spinal cord injury should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible. In many cases, early intervention can significantly improve the ultimate outcome of a spinal cord injury.

Whiplash Injuries

“Whiplash” is not actually a single injury, but is instead the colloquial term of a range of injuries resulting from a sudden jerking or other distortion of the neck, often resembling the cracking of a whip. This sudden motion often causes significant strain on the nerves, muscles, and vertebrae in the neck region and can result in long-lasting damage. Though whiplash injuries are often considered to relatively minor, such injuries may still have a substantial effect on a victim’s life. Some of the main signs and symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in your arms or hands
  • Fatigue or insomnia
  • Feeling of “pins and needles”
  • Pain in or around the shoulder blades
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as struggling to remember things or concentrate

While some signs and symptoms of whiplash may be almost immediately apparent, others may not manifest for several days. You should always visit a doctor as soon as you experience any type of whiplash symptoms in the days following an accident. Treatment for whiplash commonly involves pain management, including visits to pain specialists, injections, and muscle relaxants, as well as physical therapy techniques such as ultrasounds, myofascial release,[5] strengthening, and more. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may last for a prolonged period of time.

Though whiplash is most often associated with rear-end accidents,[6] this type of injury can occur in any type of collision. Whiplash can significantly affect your life and may even keep you from working, so this type of injury should never be ignored following a car accident.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries[7] include any damage to the body’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, skin, or other soft tissue. They can easily occur in a car accident and have the potential to cause significant pain and other complications. In particularly serious cases, a soft tissue injury could result in long-term problems including the loss of use of a part of the body or the development of chronic pain. Some of the more common kinds of soft tissue injuries that often occur in car accidents include:

Because of the potentially serious complications that can result after a soft injury, victims should be certain to seek medical attention immediately after a car accident.

Psychological effects of injuries

Many emotional and psychological effects may result from physical injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Some factors that can cause emotional injuries include:

  • Pain – Some serious injuries cause chronic and long-lasting pain that even painkillers cannot completely relieve. Experiencing such ongoing pain can significantly wear on a victim and can have psychological effects, including depression.
  • Disabilities and impairments – Many injuries cause victims to experience a range of disabilities or impairments that can limit their activities and abilities to work or care for themselves. Even if disabilities or impairments are temporary, having to rely on others or not being able to earn a living for a period of time can cause emotional distress. Victims of permanent disabilities or impairments may experience even more severe emotional issues as they must accept their “new” life and learn both physical and emotional coping skills.
  • Disfigurement and scarring – Even after extensive medical treatment, victims of car accidents can be left with permanent scars or disfigurements as a result of their injuries. Such disfigurements can not only cause depression and anxiety due to a changed physical appearance but may also cause social anxieties and related fears about reactions to their scars and disfigurement.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

You woke up last night again, sweating after re-living your traumatic car accident in your dreams. You felt the impact, heard the crushing metal, and startled awake from the fear. The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) reports that stressful reactions, such as nightmares or flashbacks, are normal after traumatic events—but if certain symptoms last longer than three months, are causing you greater than average distress, and are disrupting your work or home life in a way unrelated to your physical injuries, you may suffer from PTSD. Although we typically associate PTSD with war veterans, any type of traumatic event, including a serious car accident, can trigger it. So what should you look for if you believe you are suffering from atypical mental and emotional symptoms after a car accident, and what are your options for compensation in Pennsylvania?

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

As stated previously, it is normal to suffer from stress-related symptoms a few weeks or even months after a car accident. The problem, however, can develop when these symptoms linger and you do not improve during the following months. There are generally four types of PTSD symptoms:

  • Reliving the traumatic event, or re-experiencing symptoms – These include nightmares, flashbacks, or “triggers” that occur when you see, hear, or smell something associated with the traumatic event, and they cause abnormally stressful reactions.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event – These include avoiding driving or riding in a car or keeping obsessively busy so you don’t have to discuss or talk about the accident.
  • Negative changes in beliefs or feelings – This includes a change in the way you think about others, including changed feelings about loved ones, avoidance of relationships, forgetting about parts of the event, not being about to talk about the accident, or experiencing symptoms of paranoia, alert for danger, or sudden anger or irritability. You may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, or loud noises or surprises may abnormally startle you.

If you experience any of these symptoms for a lasting time or the severity is hurting your work and home life, seek immediate medical attention from a specialist. Linking your PTSD symptoms to your car accident with medical records is essential if you wish to seek compensation for your mental anguish.

Diagnosing PTSD

Like a broken leg, you can suffer PTSD as the result of a traumatic car accident. Unlike a broken leg, however, it can be harder to prove that you are suffering from PTSD, as opposed to natural post-traumatic stress associated with the accident. According to the University of Pennsylvania, you don’t have to experience a physical injury to develop PTSD as the result of a serious Pennsylvania car accident. Whether you were the driver, passenger, or witness to a horrible accident, even the absence of an injury can lead to mental scars that a medical professional must explicitly diagnose.

Importantly, PTSD can also occur in children, but studies indicate that young children do not continue to relive the experience as adults do. Instead, they may begin to dream about the car accident—but those dreams often turn into more general nightmares about monsters or danger. Because children may have difficulty expressing their fears and relating the start of those fears to the aftermath of the car accident, parents, teachers, and pediatricians must look for and recognize these unique signs of PTSD in children that they might otherwise attribute to a scary movie.

Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, mental and emotional losses after a car accident are compensable injuries. This means that your insurance company, the liable driver’s insurance company, or the driver would face responsibility for compensating you for expenses such as your counseling, lost time from work, and mental anguish if you are able to prove that the PTSD is directly linked to the accident.

For example, what if a military combat veteran is involved in a serious car or motorcycle accident and as a result develops PTSD? The defense attorney on the case may try to disprove that the PTSD was caused by the car accident and instead claim that it developed after combat trauma. In this and similar cases where an injured individual has experienced more than one serious trauma throughout a lifetime, documented medical evidence of the trauma, as well as affidavit testimony from witnesses such as family, friends, and co-workers, can link the onset of symptomatic behavior to shortly after the traumatic car accident. You need the help of a Pennsylvania PTSD car accident lawyer who is familiar with these tactics and knows what you will need to provide the court and insurance companies to prove your case.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most often associated with veterans who were in active combat zones. However, this mental condition can develop following any kind of traumatic event during which you sustained serious physical injury or felt the threat of serious physical injury. Motor vehicle collisions are sudden and often violent events that can result in a car rolling over, chain reaction collisions, being trapped in a vehicle, and other circumstances that can be extremely traumatic. Studies demonstrate [2] that an estimated 9 percent of motor vehicle victims suffer from PTSD as a result of the accident and the percentage is much higher among accident victims who seek treatment for mental conditions.

PTSD can be a debilitating condition that can have the following symptoms and more:

  • Violent nightmares that disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Involuntary wakeful flashbacks that can cause “blackouts” in the victim’s consciousness.
  • Intrusive and recurring memories of the collision.
  • Intense and prolonged periods of distress following a memory, flashback, nightmare, or any other reminder of the collision.
  • Determined avoidance of anything that may remind the victim of the collision, especially riding in a motor vehicle, being around motor vehicles, or even leaving the house.
  • Loss of memory regarding the events of the collision.
  • Alienation from friends and family.
  • Severe lack of interest in usual activities and challenges succeeding in work or school.
  • Patterns of self-blame that may even manifest in self-harm.

In addition to the above symptoms, a significant percentage of motor vehicle accident victims with PTSD also suffer from severe phobias, major depression, anxiety, and/or other mood disorders.

The symptoms and effects of PTSD can have a substantially adverse effect on a sufferer’s life as they may withdraw from jobs, social situations, school, or other previously enjoyed activities. This condition requires a significant amount of psychological therapy and often requires medication during an extensive recovery time. Treatment can be costly and victims may also lose income during recovery.

Sciatica or Lumbar Radiculopathy

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is defined as pain, tingling, or numbness radiating down your legs from your lower back that is caused by irritation of certain spinal nerves. Because the sciatic nerve, which is located in the back of each leg, is injured or irritated in these cases, the condition is called sciatica. In layperson terms, sciatica is the medical word for lower back and leg pain, something from which a large percentage of Americans suffer. Because sciatica is often triggered by a herniated or bulging disc in the spinal column, it can sometimes result from natural spinal weakening and deterioration. However, traumatic spinal injuries caused by car crashes, which often damage the spine despite safety precautions, are a leading cause of sciatica, which can be harder to treat than you expect.

Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica

If you suffer from sciatica, it generally begins in your lower back or buttocks and radiates down your leg and foot. You may also experience weakness, tingling, or numbness in those areas. Unfortunately, because sciatica is nerve related, physical therapy and exercise often only deepen the pain, and many people will experience a worsening in symptoms if they stay in one position—for example, sitting, standing, or laying— for extended periods of time.

The severity of your symptoms depends on your age, health, and the nature of your injuries. While some individuals can remain sitting for an hour, others need to stand or walk around every 15 minutes to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with sciatica. Although a doctor can diagnose sciatica with a physical exam or simply by analyzing your medical history, such as a recent car accident, because sciatica is associated with more serious injuries, you may need either an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If you believe you are suffering from sciatica, look for the following symptoms of sciatic nerve pain:

  • Constant radiating pain on one side of the leg or buttock
  • Pain that worsens when sitting
  • Burning tingling, or searing pain as opposed to a dull ache
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg, foot, and toes
  • Sharp pain when standing or walking
  • Although sciatica is not a life-threatening injury, for those who suffer from it as the result of a traumatic car accident, it can be life-changing.

Sciatica and Your Lifestyle

The medical profession has always faced difficulty when it comes to treating spine and nerve injuries due to the complexity of our neurological systems. Accordingly, physicians can manage pain associated with sciatica and treat the symptoms, but there is no magic treatment for the condition itself. Accordingly, the near constant pain, numbness, and inability to sit or stand for long periods of time can greatly interfere with something attorneys refer to as “activities of daily living.” When litigating your case, although sciatica may seem minor compared to a severe spinal injury suffered in a car crash, you can still claim loss of enjoyment of life. For example, if you have difficulty sitting, standing, sleeping, reaching, bending, lifting, driving, or maintaining concentration at work as a result of sciatica, your attorney can request a certain allocation of damages for the impact this has had on your life. The sharp shooting pain that occurs when you stand or walk as a result of severe sciatica can stop you in your tracks, damaging your ability to cook, shop, drive, clean, or shower. In other words, it can harm every aspect of your life.

Trauma-Induced Sciatica

Sciatica results from the compression of the nerve root in your lumbar spine, including by non-traumatic causes such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, and even spinal tumors. If you were not suffering from lower back pain before your car accident, however, degeneration due to disease is not the likely cause of your sciatica. Instead, if you’ve been in a recent car accident, sciatica results from two main causes: lumbar bulging/herniated discs or direct trauma. If you were in an accident, especially a rear-end type accident, the force of the impact may cause one of the gel-like discs that sits between your vertebra to slip out of position and push against the spinal nerves. Depending on its severity, this slip is called a herniation or bulge, but either way, the pressure the slipped disc puts on the nerve causes sciatica. Accordingly, sciatica is a secondary diagnosis as a result of a traumatic disc herniation. Direct trauma to the nerve itself, however, can also cause sciatica. This type of sciatica is commonly caused by a car accident when an external force directly compresses the nerve, such as in a crushing accident.

Seeking Compensation for Sciatica in Pennsylvania

Lower back pain as the result of nerve damage is more common than you may realize. Accordingly, defense attorneys will attempt to claim that your sciatica was not trauma induced and was instead the result of natural degeneration or a previous accident. For this reason, seek medical attention immediately after your accident if you are experiencing any type of lower back or leg pain. Furthermore, even if you were suffering from a degenerative disorder, if the car accident aggravated that pre-existing condition, resulting in sciatica, you are still entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. This is commonly called the “eggshell skull rule,” and it means that defendants must take their plaintiffs in the condition that they find them. A defendant cannot get out of compensating you for your pain made worse by the accident simply because the injury was pre-existing. This is often a difficult claim to make, however, because it requires extensive medical documentation—which an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you compile.

Tips for Driver Safety

Safe Driving During Winter Weather

 

During this time of year, a large swatch of the United States is consistently subjected to sub-freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and high winds. As anyone who has driven in a winter storm understands, snow and ice can wreak havoc on the way that a car, truck, or other vehicle handles. In addition, high winds and heavy precipitation can have an extremely detrimental effect on a driver’s ability to see the road in front of him or her. As a result, winter weather can result in significant motor vehicle accidents[1] that may in turn lead to serious injuries. Many of these injuries have the potential to significantly affect a person’s quality of life and may even lead to long-term medical issues that require around-the-clock care.

Icy Road hazard
Fortunately for people who live or visit areas where driving in winter weather is unavoidable, there are certain steps that they can take to reduce their risk of being involved in a winter weather accident. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration[2] advises people who are anticipating driving in winter weather to follow the “three P’s of safe winter driving:” prepare for your drive, protect yourself, and prevent crashes on the road. More information about each aspect of winter weather safety can be found below.

Prepare

In order to prepare for driving in winter weather, drivers can take the following steps:

  • Make sure that your vehicle is properly maintained. This means checking the tire tread, the battery, the windshield wipers, and all fluid levels, as well as other aspects of your vehicle.
  • Have emergency equipment on hand in case that you get stranded out in a storm. Some of the equipment that you should keep in your vehicle includes a flashlight, jumper cables, material that can provide friction for your tires (kitty litter, floor mats), a shovel, ice scraper, flares, and blankets.
  • Plan your route, and avoid poor weather if possible.
  • If you stall, stay with your vehicle and turn on lights in order to attract attention. If you need to run your car, make sure that you clear the tailpipe and only run it enough to stay warm.
  • Practice winter weather driving[3]. During daylight hours, find an empty parking lot or other surface without any crash hazards and practice stopping and turning into a skid.

Protect

Protecting yourself involves making sure that you minimize your risk of injury in the event that you are involved in an accident. Some of the steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family include:

  • Always use your seatbelt
  • Use an appropriate car seat for young children and install it correctly
  • Be aware that children under 12 are generally much safer in the back seat of a vehicle

Prevent crashes

Winter weather conditions can significantly increase a person’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Some of the ways that you can help prevent accidents include the following:

  • Never drive a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Drive within the speed limit and give other vehicles plenty of room
  • Be aware of pedestrians that may be walking in the road
  • Avoid driving while fatigued. Make sure that you get plenty of rest before taking a trip, stop every three hours, and try and rotate drivers if possible
  • If you plan to drink any alcohol at all, designate a sober driver
  • By following the steps above, a driver can minimize his or her risk of being involved in a winter weather motor vehicle accident.

Winter Weather Accidents may Still Occur

No matter how safe you are when you drive in winter weather, there is always a chance that outside factors can still cause you to be involved in an accident and suffer injuries. Sometimes, you may just unexpectedly hit an ice patch and lose control of your vehicle. In such situations, the incident is likely deemed to be no one’s fault and the accident was simply that—an accident. In other circumstances, other parties may have contributed to the accident through negligent acts or omissions.

You can be the safest driver on the road and you will still be unable to control the acts of other drivers. Some drivers may not be as cautious in winter weather conditions and may be overly confident. Such false confidence can lead drivers to speed, engage in distracted driving,[4]and other dangerous behaviors. For example, a road may have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, though winter weather conditions may cause it to be extremely and obviously dangerous to travel at that speed. If a driver decides to drive 55, loses control, and causes a collision, that driver would likely be found to be negligent

In addition to drivers, other parties may also negligently contribute to winter weather accidents. Government entities have the duty to care for roads and make sure they are safe for travel. In the winter, this includes pre-treating the roads to avoid ice build-up, clearing the roads of snow in a timely fashion, and repairing any potholes or cracks that may develop from the cold. If a government fails to adequately take care of the roads and an accident occurs, that entity may be deemed negligent and at fault for any losses that occurred

What kinds of Injuries can People Sustain in Winter Weather Accident?

Winter weather accidents, like other motor vehicle accidents, have the potential of causing serious bodily injury. Because these accident accidents occur in winter weather, however, victims can also be exposed to secondary injury caused by extreme cold[6] or other environmental issues. Some of the more common injuries sustained in winter weather accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Bruises
  • Lacerations
  • Traumatic brain injury[7]
  • Burns
  • Sprains
  • Joint dislocations
  • Frostbite
  • Hypothermia
  • Soft tissue injuries

These injuries can have varying complications, depending on their severity. Many minor injuries may be self-resolving with little or no medical intervention, while more serious injuries may require intensive and long-term medical care. In the most serious cases, victims of winter weather car accidents may be unable to work or return to their everyday lives.

How to Avoid Car Accidents by Using Safe Driving Apps

Have you ever been behind a driver who was swerving across the road in the middle of the day? You start to wonder how many drinks he or she had, and then, when you pass the car, you realize he or she is actually engaged in using a mobile phone. Or, you may have been guilty of sending or reading a text yourself. Maybe you are a repeat offender!

But, the statistics are in, and distracted driving is not only extremely dangerous, but it is also illegal in Pennsylvania. a>However, there are many different options to avoid a car accident in Philadelphia. Mobile phones, a leading cause of car accidents via distracted drivers, have fought back against this trend of distracted driving based accidents by offering a number of applications that can motivate drivers to avoid using their phone during driving.

Safer Driving is an Option

One such example is Milz, an app that allows you to set up a prepaid account for a friend or teenager, which is redeemed when the driver connects his or her phone to the account. Milz works by monitoring the activity of the driver and only allows a monetary reward when the phone is not used during driving. Another similar application is CellControl, which functions by allowing families or companies to specify what activities are allowed or disallowed while driving. It includes a hardware piece that is placed in the vehicle. Some phone companies offer helpful phone modes as well. For example, AT&T offers “DriveMode,” a free application that allows automatic replies when a user’s car is moving at or over 15 miles per hour. The mode enables the user to specify certain allowable callers while it sends all others to voicemail, and it can alert parents if the mode is disabled or turned off. TextNinja allows drivers to earn rewards and points for safe driving. DriveSafeMode and Live2Txt are other available applications with similar functionalities.

How an Accident Lawyer Can Help

As you can see, personal injury cases that arise from auto accidents can be very complicated and involve significantly more than simply pointing blame in another driver’s direction. For this reason, it is imperative to seek the assistance of an auto accident attorney in Philadelphia who knows how to handle the complexities of a personal injury case.

An experienced auto accident lawyer can help you in several different ways following a car accident. First, as mentioned above, an attorney can communicate with insurance companies on your behalf. At the Levin Firm, our qualified lawyers are trained negotiators and understand how to successfully argue for the maximum possible insurance settlement.

If the responsible driver does not have adequate insurance, our personal injury lawyers know how to best handle uninsured or underinsured claims. If you have a relevant uninsured or underinsured policy, we can bring a claim against your own insurance company for the monetary losses that were not covered by the liable party. While these cases generally take place in a courtroom, they have unique requirements and procedures so you always want to make sure you have an attorney who understands this particular type of claim.

If you are still unable to recover for all of your accident-related losses via insurance claims, an attorney can file a personal injury claim on your behalf. At the Levin Firm, we guide our clients through every stage of the legal process, which may consist of numerous stages including:

  • Filing pleadings
  • Discovery and fact-finding
  • Pretrial motions and hearings
  • Settlement negotiations
  • Trial

We will use our extensive resources to fully investigate all of the circumstances surrounding your accident, using expert analysis or accident reconstruction whenever necessary. We will then use all of the information we uncover as leverage in settlement negotiations with the liable party.

While we will always try to negotiate an adequate settlement agreement to save you the time and energy involved in trial, we are skilled litigators and will not hesitate to take your case before a jury to make sure you receive the full amount you deserve. Our attorneys have a thorough understanding of how the Philadelphia civil justice system works, including all relevant court rules and procedures, and we are committed to fully protecting the rights of injured auto accident victims through every stage of the legal process.

If you have suffered injury in a Philadelphia auto accident, your main concern should always be on your physical and mental recovery and you should not have to constantly worry about your legal case. For this reason, we make certain to regularly communicate with clients and will keep you up to date on any new developments in your case. We provide careful attention to each individual auto accident case and will always zealously advocate on your behalf. If you have suffered injury, please do not hesitate to call 877-825-8542 to schedule a free consultation with the experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at The Levin Firm today

Car accidents may occur in a number of different ways and the type of collision may often correlate with certain types of injuries that victims suffer. For example, rear-end collisions often occur because of sudden braking or deceleration, tailgating, distracted driving, or a combination of those factors. Victims of rear-end accidents commonly suffer from whiplash, a painful and sometimes chronic injury to parts of the neck. Additionally, victims who are involved in an accident in which a car rolls over often suffer traumatic brain injuries or other head trauma. Broadside collisions, also known as “T-bone accidents,” generally cause severe, life-threatening injuries due to the lack of protection from a bumper or crumple zone at the point of impact. Broadsides often happen in intersections because a vehicle failed to properly yield or obey a traffic signal. No matter what type of accident you have experienced, you should always consult with an experienced lawyer if you suffered injury or other losses.

 

 

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