Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can be caused by driver negligence, manufacturing defects, dangerous weather, and faulty road conditions. They can involve cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. They can result in serious injuries that cause temporary or permanent debilitating changes in lifestyle. No matter the specific cause or result of your accident, consulting an lawyer can help you figure out your options. The lawyers at Warren & McGraw, LLC are successful and experienced in handling varied types of motor vehicle accidents and are dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve.
What Should I Do in the Case of an Accident?
- report the accident to the police
- take all pictures you can of the vehicles and the accident site
- see your doctor as soon as possible if you are hurt or injured
- report the incident as promptly and accurately as possible to your insurance company
- review your insurance policy to familiarize yourself with your coverage
- consult a lawyer
Do Not (without first consulting a lawyer)
- sign any documents releasing or waiving your rights
- give any recorded or written statements,
- accept any check or estimate from the insurance company
How Do I Go About Proving Fault?
There are some cases where fault is obvious. Examples include when a driver runs a red light and hits you, or as a driver rear ends you when you are stopped at a red light. Often, when fault is less obvious, both drivers will contend that the other is at fault. Sometimes a police report taken at the scene of the accident will help in determining fault, but it is not always conclusive. Therefore, insurance companies and lawyers conduct independent investigations, which include photographic evidence, damage estimates, and witness statements. Following the investigations, the other driver’s insurance company will either accept or deny fault. If the other driver’s insurance company denies fault, filing a lawsuit may become necessary to recover.
How Do I Get Compensated and What is Covered?
Regardless of whether or not you are at fault, Pennsylvania law requires your insurance company to pay up to $5,000.00 of your medical bills. Depending on your coverage you may be eligible for more. If you exhaust your coverage, under your auto insurance, you should then turn to health insurance coverage through your employer or that you have purchased privately.
You also have the option to purchase work loss coverage on your insurance policy. If you have done so, you can recover lost wages from your insurance company. If you do not have work loss coverage, or your lost wages exceed the amount in your policy, your next option is to turn to any benefits available through your employer or that you independently purchased. Finally, if you have lost wages that are not included in your policy or are not covered by other sources policy, you can recover by including them in your claim against the at-fault driver.
If you have collision coverage on your policy, you can recover for damage to your vehicle regardless of who is at fault. You will be paid in full minus the deductible on your policy. If it is determined that the other driver is at fault, you can submit your damage claim to the at fault driver’s insurance company and be paid in full. Rental insurance works much the same way, but it is important to note that there may be limits to the amount and length of time an insurer will pay for a rental car.
Pain and Suffering
Claims for pain, suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, and emotional distress are not covered by your insurance. These claims must be presented to the insurer for the at fault driver. These claims require you to prove that the other driver was at fault.
What is the Difference Between Full Tort and Limited Tort?
When you purchase your insurance policy, you have the option of purchasing either full tort or limited tort. In order to recover for injuries under the limited tort option, you have the added burden of proving that you sustained a serious injury. A serious injury is defined as death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of bodily function. Typically injuries that last a few months are not included under limited tort. There are exceptions that allow you to recover under limited tort, even if the serious injury threshold is not met. Exceptions include: the at-fault driver’s vehicle is registered in another state, the at fault driver is convicted of or pleads guilty to driving under the influence, you are driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your accident.
If you have the full tort option, there is no serious injury threshold. You can recover for less serious injuries. The distinction between full and limited tort does not apply to economic suffering, which allows you to recover for lost wages, property damage, and excess medical bills regardless of which option you have.
What is Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage are available for you to purchase as part of your insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage allow you to recover when the at fault driver has no insurance or in cases of a hit and run. Underinsured motorist coverage allows you to recover when the at fault driver does not have adequate liability coverage to compensate you. These claims are against your own insurance company and require proof that the other driver was at fault.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Claim?
Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for all personal injury claims that generally requires you to settle your claim or file a lawsuit within two years of the date of your accident.
If you have additional questions or would like to speak to a lawyer regarding your accident, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Warren & McGraw, LLC.