If you have been in a vehicle wreck, you might be unsure of what to do. As the bills pile up, you could be wondering how you will afford your medical bills or vehicle repairment costs.
Most of the time, the parties involved in a crash reach an agreement out-of-court. However, despite the case resolving outside of litigation, an Altoona car wreck attorney can help ensure that you receive fair and just treatment.
If you are involved in a negotiation to reach a car accident settlement in Altoona, an experienced attorney could be a strong ally. Legal counsel could ensure that any settlement is appropriate and bring a lawsuit for damages if negotiations are not fruitful.
Pennsylvania requires drivers to maintain liability insurance but allows them to select a Full Tort or Limited Tort option. The type of tort election a driver selects affects the damages he or she might collect if he or she is injured in an accident. A savvy car crash attorney could advise someone involved in an accident in the area about his or her settlement options for recovering damages based on the specific circumstances.
Limited Tort insurance is generally less expensive than Full Tort insurance. In many cases, a limited tort claimant is precluded from recovering non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) in most cases. Owners of limited tort policies still look to their own insurer for payment of their medical expenses and lost income up to the limits of their policy, regardless of who was at fault in the accident, but a third party recovery may be barred, unless one of certain exceptions are met
Pennsylvania law allows a person who is subject to limited tort to recover non-economic damages in a limited number of situations. These exceptions, in which non-economic damages can be recovered despite the limited tort election, include: the victim’s injuries are considered “serious”; the defendant is convicted of or is admitted to an ARD program for DUI; the victim was not in a private passenger motor vehicle (such as if the victim was a pedestrian, in a bus, or on a bicycle), or if the defendant was driving a vehicle registered outside the state of Pennsylvania. The “serious injury” exception depends on the nature and extent of the treatment, and this vagueness provides room for insurance companies to claim that a severe injury is not “serious” as defined by law. An injured victim who is subject to limited tort will be limited to recovering only “economic” damages, such as lost wages and unpaid medical bills.
Full tort policies are more expensive, but they allow an injured driver to pursue non-economic damages, which include, among other things, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of the pleasures of life, and embarrassment.
Injured people in Pennsylvania have two years from the accident date to bring a lawsuit seeking damages. Failure to file a lawsuit within the allotted time permanently prevents an injured person from seeking restitution through the court system.
Sometimes the state or a municipality within Pennsylvania could be liable for the accident. This might happen if the crash involved a government-owned vehicle, if the at-fault driver was a government employee working at the time, or if road construction was a causal factor. When the state or a municipality might be a defendant, the injured person has only six months to file a notice of intent to sue. This statutory written notice must contain certain elements, and an experienced attorney can help to ensure that these requirements are fulfilled.
It is imperative for injured people to be aware of these time frames, even when they do not wish to bring a lawsuit. The possibility of legal action provides an incentive for responsible parties and their insurers to engage in good-faith negotiations. An injured person in Altoona who brings in an attorney to negotiate on his or her behalf early in the process might achieve a more favorable result than if he attempts to handle the claim himself.
If you have suffered injuries in a vehicle accident, do not try to navigate through the complicated insurance rules without support. Insurance companies employ adjusters and lawyers whose job is to limit your financial recovery.