Pennsylvania is a no-fault car insurance state. This means that in most accidents, an injured person’s own insurance will cover the cost of medical bills, damages, and lost income - regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, there are exceptions to this rule if there have been serious injuries from the accident.
If serious injuries are involved, then the victim may be permitted to sue the at-fault driver for any subsequent expenses. In PA law, a personal injury is defined as one which causes death, serious impairment of a bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement. Contributing factors may include:
- A doctor’s diagnosis that an injury is chronic or permanent
- An injury requiring surgery
- Limited range of motion
- Length of treatment
- Whether the injury requires prescription medication or regular medical care
- Whether the injury has disrupted daily activities, including work and sleep
If you’ve been involved in an accident and one or more of these criteria apply to you, you may be permitted to sue the other driver.
There are many types of car accidents, each with a wide range of variables. Some of the more common reasons to pursue legal action against an at-fault driver in Pennsylvania include the following:
We’ve all heard about how dangerous it is to text while driving. However, a staggering number of car accidents in the US still involve texting. Approximately 330,000 accidents are caused by texting each year. This accounts for roughly 1 in 4 accidents. When someone reads a text while driving, their eyes are off the road for about five seconds. This is more than enough time to cause a devastating accident which may affect another driver for the rest of their lives.
If you’ve been in an accident as a result of another driver texting, it’s important to take swift legal action. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases such as car accidents is only two years.
Texting is far from the only form of distracted driving. There are a variety of distractions which could affect a driver’s focus and increase the likelihood of a serious accident. Some examples include:
- Talking on a cell phone - While you may be able to keep your eyes on the road while talking on the phone, you’re still distracted. Even hands-free cell phone use is dangerous because it diverts your mental attention away from the road.
- Eating and drinking - Eating or drinking while driving forces you to take a hand off the wheel, which increases the likelihood of causing an accident.
- Using GPS - Driving while looking at a GPS is just as dangerous as texting. In either case, your eyes are off the road. It only takes a few seconds of glancing away to cause an accident.
- Grooming - Have you ever seen another driver combing their hair or applying makeup? This is another reckless form of distracted driving.
- Conversation with passengers - While casual conversation with one passenger may seem natural while driving, a lively discussion with multiple passengers takes a driver’s attention away from the road and increases the risk of an accident.
In 2014, distracted drivers caused accidents which accounted for over 3,000 deaths and over 430,000 injuries.
The perils of drunk driving should be nothing new to any American. We all know that driving while drunk impairs vision, reaction time, and the motor skills necessary to drive safely and responsibly. But according to the CDC, 28 people die every day because someone else chose to disregard this advice and get behind the wheel while impaired. Each day, another 794 are injured for the same reason.
There is no excuse for drunk driving. An intoxicated driver endangers not only himself but all of the other drivers he shares the road with. In these cases, criminal prosecution may not be enough to make up for the damages caused by such reckless behavior. It may be necessary to bring the matter to civil court as well in order to fully cover these damages.
Driving while fatigued is just as dangerous as distracted or drunk driving. A fatigued driver is less alert and more likely to make an accident-causing mistake. This is also frighteningly common. According to a 2005 poll by the National Sleep Foundation, a staggering 168 million Americans admitted to driving while fatigued in the past year. An even scarier fact - 103 million Americans admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.
Speed limits exist for a good reason. Driving at high speeds makes it more difficult to come to a complete stop when the unexpected happens. Speeding can also make it more difficult to control your vehicle and increases the likelihood of causing an accident. Injuries incurred during high-speed crashes are also much more serious, and fatalities are much more likely.
In 2012, speeding contributed to 30 percent of fatal crashes in the US, resulting in over 10,000 deaths. If you’ve lost a loved one or become seriously injured because of another driver speeding, you may feel helpless. While the emotional wounds from losing a loved one may never fully heal, it’s still important to hold reckless drivers responsible for their carelessness. Financial compensation is a key aspect for recovering after such an incident.
Other Reasons To Sue
While the previous section detailed several driver-related causes of car accidents, there are other reasons to pursue legal action. Depending on the specifics of your particular accident, there may be several responsible parties besides the driver:
- If the driver was borrowing the car, the car’s owner could be held liable
- A mechanic who caused a defect while working on the car, which lead to an accident
- The car manufacturer may be responsible for a defect which caused the accident
- The city or municipality may be responsible if the accident was caused by flaws in road maintenance or design
- A bar or restaurant serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person may be partly responsible for an accident caused by drunk driving
Many car accidents are the result of a combination of factors. It’s important to determine all possible causes of the crash, so that each responsible party may be held liable.
Most accidents can be classified into one of a few categories, which vary in severity:
Head-on collisions are the most dangerous and fatal types of accident. Although these collisions only account for 2% of accidents, they are responsible for about 10% of fatalities. These are some of the toughest crashes to recover from and inflict the most damage on both the victims and the vehicles involved.
Most sideswipe accidents involve a driver drifting too close to another vehicle or obstruction, such as a highway median. In many cases, the driver will over adjust to avoid the sideswipe and cause a larger accident. Distracted driving is a primary catalyst in many of these accidents, since drifting often occurs while the driver’s eyes are away from the road.
These are the most common type of car accident in America - accounting for about 40% of the 6 million accidents that occur each year. Rear-end collisions are some of the lowest impact accidents and less dangerous than head-on collisions and sideswipes, but can still cause serious physical ailments. Many victims of these collisions suffer from injuries to their back, neck, knees, face, and brain.
How Our Lawyers Can Help You
If you’ve been involved in a car accident resulting from the mistakes of another driver, our legal team is here to help. We are prepared to take all necessary measures to ensure that you receive appropriate compensation for your suffering. There are several important documents which would be helpful to collect for your case. However, if you have any trouble collecting them our lawyers will gladly assist you. These documents include:
- Copies of medical records
- Copies of police reports
- Photos of the scene, car damage, and personal injuries
- Contact information for any witnesses
- Insurance information for all parties involved
Our attorneys will utilize all of this information in order to present a well-researched case and prove that the other driver was at-fault, and thus financially responsible for any subsequent expenses which have resulted from your accident.
Relevant Car Accident Pages