In a big metropolitan area like Philadelphia, it may be impossible to avoid being involved in a car accident at some point. It happens to even the most experienced drivers. A distracted driver may rear-end you, causing severe injuries and damage to your vehicle. If you intend to file a personal injury claim to hold the negligent driver responsible for the accident, there are many important deadlines you need to know about and remember. One of the most crucial deadlines is the statute of limitations.
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is two years from the date of the accident. This deadline is crucial because if you miss it, you have missed the window of opportunity to file a lawsuit, and after the deadline, that window is closed. The courts are very strict about the two-year limit. It is very rare for any exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations.
In cases of wrongful death lawsuits, the statute of limitations is the same, but the timeline is slightly different in that it begins from the date of the person’s death, which could be different from the date of the accident.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
After the shock of an accident, it is easy to forget what to do. However, taking the time to educate yourself beforehand can reduce the chances of missing important deadlines. You should take the following steps after being involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania.
Always See a Medical Professional
If you are seriously injured, getting medical attention will likely happen right away, but being checked out by your primary doctor is also important, even if you think you are okay. Getting treatment establishes a medical record of the accident. This medical record documents your injuries and shows how they resulted from the accident. Lack of an initial medical visit gives the insurance company a chance to say you were able to walk away from the accident unharmed.
You may be unaware that you are injured, as many car accident injuries do not present symptoms until later. Seeing a trained professional who can diagnose the injury is essential. A concussion is an example of a car accident injury that does not always show immediate symptoms.
Report the Accident
In Pennsylvania, drivers must report any accident that did not involve the police to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). If the police were at the accident scene, a report is made automatically, and you do not have to do anything. The deadline for reporting is within five days of the collision, and the PennDOT can suspend the licenses of drivers who fail to comply. Do not lose your license after a minor fender-bender because you missed the reporting deadline.
Keep All Medical and Physical Therapy Appointments
Going to all of your appointments is essential because it shows the insurance company that your injuries were severe enough to require continued medical attention. An insurance company will use your failure to show up to scheduled appointments for your treatment as evidence that your injuries were not that severe.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Many people are apprehensive about contacting a car accident lawyer, but initial consultations are often offered for free. It gives you the chance to see if this is someone you can work with, and the lawyer can explain what kind of compensation you can expect to recover and how they will approach your case. It is essential to do this right away because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for a lawyer to investigate your case and collect evidence.
An experienced car accident lawyer will review the police report and photographs of the accident scene, contact others who witnessed the accident, determine if the negligent driver had a bad driving record or a history of drug use, and call on experts for help if necessary. Any delay in contacting a lawyer makes this process more challenging and could weaken your case.
A good lawyer will also handle all the paperwork related to your case and deal with the insurance companies. They will document all the medical bills and losses incurred by you due to the accident and calculate the damages you are owed. If it is possible to settle the case instead of going to trial, they can negotiate a fair settlement.
What Pennsylvania Laws Govern Compensation?
Pennsylvania gives drivers two options for car insurance coverage: full tort and limited tort, also known as no-fault. No-fault insurance means that regardless of who was at fault for an accident, each driver’s losses are covered by their auto insurance.
Coverage is limited to economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. A claimant with no-fault car insurance coverage cannot recover damages for pain and suffering. Very limited exceptions are made for liability claims against at-fault drivers who caused severe injuries, like permanent impairment or disfigurement.
Only drivers with full tort insurance coverage can pursue liability claims against another at-fault driver for all economic and non-economic damages. Compensation for a car accident in Pennsylvania may include some or all of the following:
- Medical bills, including ambulance transport, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, doctor visits, and other reasonable medical expenses.
- Lost wages, present and future.
- Vehicle repairs or replacement.
- Property damages.
- Pain and suffering, including injury-related pain, loss of quality of life, and emotional anguish.
- Counseling for mental health issues related to the accident, such as PTSD.
- Losses from a wrongful death in the case of a fatal car accident.
Modified Comparative Negligence and How it Affects Compensation
If you were in a car accident that was clearly the fault of another driver, then liability for the accident is clear and rests with the other driver and their insurance, as when someone runs a red light and hits your car. However, many car accidents involve shared fault. Maybe at an intersection, someone turned in front of you and caused an accident, but you were also speeding at the time and changed lanes without signaling.
In Pennsylvania, the concept of modified comparative negligence applies. If the at-fault driver was 80 percent responsible for the accident, you would share 20 percent of the blame. Your percentage of fault will reduce any damages you are awarded. If the court awards you $100,000 in damages and finds you 20 percent responsible for the accident, the amount you would receive is $80,000. Any driver found to be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident is barred from recovering any damages.
To avoid missed deadlines after a car accident and to find out your legal options, consult a qualified lawyer right away.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Will Ensure You Meet the Legal Deadlines After a Collision
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, do not delay in contacting one of our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.