Getting into a car accident can be a scary ordeal, especially if youve suffered minor to serious injuries. ?If youve been hit by another driver, an attorney with an understanding of Pennsylvania car accident law can help protect your rights and advocate on your behalf.
What should I do first if Im in a car accident?
If youre in a car accident, it may be difficult to anticipate ?the various legal issues that may arise in an attempt to resolve your case. ?However, taking a few simple steps at the time of the accident can ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries and property damage.
The first thing you should do after getting into a car accident is document the damage with photos. To do this, take a clear photo of all vehicles involved, as well as the scene of the accident. If possible, photograph the entire street, as well as unusual conditions you think may have contributed to the accident. ?An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to use this information later to support your claim for damages. ?Photos of the damage can help illustrate for a judge or jury how bad an accident was. Photos of the street where the accident occurred, on the other hand, help the judge or jury understand exactly how the accident occurred and provide necessary context for determining liability. ?For example, it is much easier to prove the other driver was distracted by his radio if the accident that occurred on a sunny day with light traffic, as opposed to an accident that occurred during the middle of rush hour. ?
Next, take photos of your injuries, including bruises, scratches, burns or other contusions. A defense attorney will almost always dispute that you were actually injured or that your injuries were as bad as you claim. For this reason, its important to photograph your injuries as soon as possible, as a opposed to weeks later when youve already begun to heal. Doing so will give the judge or jury a good idea of how bad the accident was and how much pain you were in as a result. ?E-mailing your photos to yourself is always a good idea in the event you lose your phone.
Finally, it is imperative that you contact your insurance company and notify them that the accident occurred. This will avoid having your claim denied for failure to provide timely notice. Provide them with the name and insurance information of the driver who hit you, so that they can begin the claims filing process on your behalf.
What does it mean to be a negligent driver in Pennsylvania?
Negligence is a legal term, which means that the other party did or failed to do something that caused harm to someone else. Lawyers typically describe a negligent driver as someone who has breached the duty of care he owed to the other driver. In Pennsylvania, all drivers are expected to abide by traffic laws and drive carefully. A driver who does not do this can be said to have breached ?the duty of care he owes to others on the road. If that drive caused an accident because he breached his duty, he is legally negligent
Under Pennsylvania negligence law, ?a driver can be negligent by failing to watch the road, speeding, ?or by doing anything that distracts from driving. For example, a driver who hits another driver because he was texting would be considered negligent under Pennsylvania law because hes doing something he should not do, even if he did not mean to cause an accident. Similarly, a driver who hit another driver because he did not realize traffic had slowed in front of him can be negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout of the road ahead. A determination that the other drivers negligence caused an accident is always necessary in order to recover for your injuries.
What if multiple drivers are at fault?
There are often instances where both drivers were at fault for a car accident and the resulting injuries. ?Pennsylvania law now requires that a judge or jury divide responsibility between all at-fault parties under the Fair Share Act. ?Under the Fair Share Act, a judge or jury must apportion damage between the multiple at-fault drivers.
As an example, consider the following scenario: Ana is driving under the influence and runs a red light. She hits Bob, who is texting his girlfriend, and does not notice Ana in time to avoid the accident. Catherine, who is speeding, is driving too fast to avoid colliding with both Bob and Ana from behind.
In this example, each driver is negligent, but to different degrees. Ana is most at fault because she was driving under the influence and also ran a red light. ?A judge would probably determine that Bob is also at fault, because he could have avoided the accident. Finally, Catherine is also at-fault for speeding, but the accident is less her fault than it was Ana and Bobs. Therefore, assume that Ana was 50% at fault, Bob was 30% at fault, and Catherine was 20% at fault. ?If the total injuries were $100,000, Ana would pay $50,000 for her share; Bob would pay $30,000; and Catherine would pay $20,000.
Note that each drivers degree of fault would simply be determined by a judge or jury, and there is no formula for determining each partys percentage of negligence.
You only have two years to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver in Pennsylvania. For this reason, it is important that you contact an experienced car accident attorney if you have suffered any injuries or property damage in an automobile accident. Contact the Philly Injury Lawyer today for more information about your rights after youve been in an accident.