Even when fault seems obvious, proving it in court is much harder than you think. You’ll need an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney at your side to be successful.
Do I need to Prove Fault after a Car Accident ?
Pennsylvania is a no-fault choice state, which means that in exchange for a lower monthly premium, some drivers choose a pure limited-tort no-fault policy. When you have a limited tort no-fault policy, it means that under most circumstances, you can’t sue negligent drivers for non-economic damages — and they can’t sue you.
Full tort insurance coverage provides unlimited options for legal action after a car accident, with much higher monthly premiums. Pennsylvania drivers are free to choose that option too.
See the Pennsylvania Insurance Department for full explanations of the laws and regulations governing auto insurance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
If your injuries aren’t serious, your no-fault, limited tort, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance will probably be all the coverage you need. But there are many times when it’s not.
What are The Limits of PIP ?
Your PIP benefits include medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs that may be associated with your care and recovery process. If you are recovering from injuries that are inadequately addressed by your PIP coverage, a Philadelphia personal injury attorney at our law firm can help you understand your options for filing a personal injury claim.
If you are facing long-term rehabilitation or permanent disability, filing a personal injury claim may be your only option to recover sufficient medical and nonmedical damages.
If you are the holder of a pure limited tort no-fault policy, you may file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver if:
- The at-fault driver is registered in another state
- The at-fault driver is convicted of DUI
- You were a passenger in a commercial vehicle (bus, taxi, or truck)
- You were driving a motorcycle
- You were a pedestrian
- Your injuries are serious
How do I Prove Negligence and Liability ?
Proving liability in a car accident case — whether you are in settlement hearings or presenting your case in a courtroom — is a lot more complicated than you think. Sometimes determining fault isn’t the same as determining liability. Did faulty equipment contribute to the crash? Who actually owns the vehicle that hit you?
Success in settlement hearings and in the courtroom requires a thorough knowledge of the local Pennsylvania court system, the procedures that are specific to that county, and the judge(s) who may preside in your case.
Proving liability also requires that police reports and other documentation be assembled, witnesses interviewed, and other evidence collected. It’s also crucial to do this work as soon after the accident as possible.
What are the other driver’s policy limits? Does the other driver have an accident record? Previous citations? Prior arrests? A skilled attorney will know who to call, where to find answers, and what information to discover from the other side.
Pennsylvania also follows a Modified Comparative Negligence Rule. That means that it is only possible to recover damages if the plaintiff’s own negligence does not exceed 51 percent. The jury will decide how negligent you are, too, based on the evidence that the defendant presents.
This percentage, if any, will be subtracted from total damages. For example, if you are awarded damages of $100,000 — but are seen as 30% negligent in the crash because you didn’t use your signal light — you will receive 70% of the awarded damages, or $70,000.
How Long Can I Wait Before Perusing a Claim ?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in a car accident case is two years from the date of the accident.
If the accident resulted in a death, and the family of the deceased individual wishes to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver, the statute of limitations is two years after the date of death.
The Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky are ready to assist you. Don’t hesitate to contact our law firm at (215) 735-4800 to schedule your free initial consultation.