If you have been injured in a crash involving a negligent driver, you may be owed compensation for the losses you have suffered. A Montgomery County car accident lawyer can answer your legal questions and help you make a well-informed decision regarding how to best move forward with your civil claim.
Our experienced local attorneys can provide you with guidance through the process, working toward getting you a positive outcome for your accident and injury case. Many car wreck cases are able to be settled prior to a lawsuit being filed, but if the insurance company is not playing fair our team can assist with filing a lawsuit for recovery if your injuries were caused by the carelessness or recklessness of another driver.
How Long Does a Plaintiff Have to File a Car Wreck Claim?
One of the most important laws that plaintiffs should be aware of is the statute of limitations to file an injury lawsuit for compensation. Under 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 5524, the standard deadline to file a car accident claim is two years.
It is wise to consult with a Montgomery County car collision attorney as soon as possible, as delaying filing a claim could inhibit someone’s financial recovery. The two-year filing window typically goes into effect the date of the accident, however, if someone is killed due to their injuries, the statute of limitations would not start until the date of the party’s death.
Common Damages in Vehicle Collisions
Depending on the force and angle of the impact, a car wreck can result in catastrophic injuries and losses. Injuries commonly sustained in serious collisions include broken bones, brain injuries, organ damage, loss of a limb, burns, scarring, and disfigurement. Whiplash, torn ligaments, ruptured discs, muscle strain, and soft tissue injuries are also common.
These car crash injuries may not only place a significant emotional and physical strain on an individual but could cause them considerable financial hardship as well. By filing a civil lawsuit, the injured party may be able to recover compensation for these losses. A lawyer in Montgomery County could help someone pursue recovery for their lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering, disability, loss of consortium, future reduced earning ability, and other damages caused by the car crash.
Depending on the facts of the accident, the court might sometimes include punitive damages in the plaintiff’s injury award. Unlike the other forms of compensation named above, which are designed to compensate the plaintiff for the harm they have suffered, punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and discourage others from similar misconduct. These are usually awarded in cases that involve texting while driving or driving under the influence.
How Can Car Insurance Impact Recovery?
Most states follow one of two systems regarding insurance claims after car accidents. In a “no-fault” system, accident victims who want to seek civil recovery from a negligent third party must first make a claim through their own car insurance for covered economic losses and exhaust their own policy limits before they can file suit. In a “fault” system, injured parties can choose whether to file a claim with their own insurance, file a claim against a negligent third party’s car insurance, or pursue a separate civil lawsuit.
Pennsylvania is somewhat unique in that it allows drivers to choose whether they want to opt in or out of no-fault car insurance coverage, as per 75 P.S. §1705. Limited tort coverage is a cheaper option that essentially functions as typical no-fault coverage. This means policyholders can recover for medical expenses and certain out-of-pocket financial losses after an accident but cannot seek compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering unless they suffer a serious disability, disfigurement, or impairment.
Conversely, full tort coverage allows policyholders to seek restitution for both economic and non-economic damages after a crash regardless of whether they suffer serious injury. The aforementioned section of state law requires insurance companies to notify customers of all available policy options before any contracts are signed.
No matter what policy a driver in Montgomery County chooses, they must purchase a minimum amount of coverage for different situations, as noted below:
- $5,000 for medical bills, which is available regardless of who is at fault for the incident
- $15,000 for bodily injury that a policyholder causes to a single other person through their own negligence
- $30,000 for total bodily injury a policyholder causes in a single incident through their own negligence
- $5,000 for property damage a policyholder causes in a single incident through their own negligence
During a private consultation, a legal representative could go over recovery options that may be available if an at-fault party is underinsured or uninsured.
Liability and Modified Comparative Fault
Proving liability for an accident is essential when filing a claim for personal damages. If the plaintiff can prove that the other driver owed them a legal duty, violated this duty, and consequently caused the accident that injured the plaintiff, the at-fault driver could be liable for the plaintiff’s damages.
In some cases, the court may determine that the plaintiff is partially liable for what happened. If the plaintiff is found responsible, this will impact their recoverable damages. Pennsylvania law permits the plaintiff financial recovery if they are no more than 50 percent at fault, but reduces the person’s damages accordingly, and eliminates recovery if the plaintiff is 51 percent or more at fault.
Evidence in Montgomery County Car Crash Claims
While there is no question that every licensed driver owes a duty of care to everyone else with whom they share the road, proving that a driver violated this duty of care can often be a complicated prospect. Police officers who respond to accident scenes do not always cite a particular driver for a traffic violation that occurred prior to the incident, and even if the law enforcement official did cite someone, that may not be enough to prove that the violation in question directly caused the accident. Accordingly, it is often necessary to work with seasoned legal counsel to collect, preserve, and effectively present additional evidence of negligent conduct.
In a typical case, relevant evidence might include eyewitness testimony, physical evidence from the accident scene like tire tracks and vehicle debris, footage from traffic cameras and nearby surveillance cameras, and potentially testimony from an accident reconstruction expert. If someone causes an accident because they were texting while driving, it may also be worthwhile to subpoena cellphone records that show whether a defendant had sent or received a message immediately before the accident.
Speak with a Montgomery County Car Accident Attorney
Our team of Montgomery County car accident lawyers can provide the legal support and guidance you need to move forward after a devastating crash. We can work with you to answer your questions, get you appropriate medical care, and recover compensation for your injuries as a result of the accident. The hardworking civil attorneys at our law firm can work tirelessly to safeguard your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. To speak with a skilled attorney, contact us today for an initial case consultation.