If you were recently in a vehicle collision, the shock of the incident may leave you unsure of what steps you should take. A Cambria County car accident lawyer could help you understand what you need to do to file a claim and seek compensation for any injuries you and your passengers have sustained, as well as damage to your car or truck.
An experienced Cambria County personal injury attorney could answer any questions you may have. Additionally, a seasoned legal team could gather and preserve necessary evidence, speak with witnesses, and negotiate with insurance companies. When you allow a lawyer to handle your case, you can focus on healing from your injuries.
How Could Someone Prove Another Driver Was Negligent?
An attorney working on a car collision case in Cambria County must prove the other driver in the wreck was negligent in order to receive compensation for the claimant. Establishing negligence requires proving the following four elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, including to observe the established speed limits and following the rules of the road
- The defendant breached that duty of care
- The breach resulted in the collision
- The plaintiff sustained compensable injuries because of the accident
It is important for people injured in car wrecks to seek legal guidance immediately, as they have a limited time to file a civil claim. Under 42 P.S. § 5524, plaintiffs have two years to file car accident cases in the state to avoid dismissals. There are additional notice requirements to the extent the case involves any governmental entities, such as buses or claims against PennDOT or local municipalities due to a dangerous road.
Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence Laws
Comparative negligence refers to assigning a percentage of blame to each party involved in a car accident. Pennsylvania uses modified comparative negligence laws, detailed under 42 P.S. § 7102, to assign fault in car crashes and other personal injury cases. Under modified comparative negligence law, a plaintiff who is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for his or her injuries cannot recover compensation. However, if a claimant is determined to be less than 50 percent at fault, he or she could be awarded a reduced recovery. For example, if a local attorney seeks $100,000 in damages on behalf of the injured claimant, but the plaintiff was found to be 40 percent to blame for the car crash, he or she can only receive $60,000.
The No-Fault Car Insurance in Cambria County
Drivers in Cambria County and other regions of Pennsylvania have no-fault medical coverage on their car insurance policies, which means that their own auto insurance company will pay for accident-related medical bills, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. Most drivers have $5,000 of medical coverage on their auto policy, which is the minimum required by Pennsylvania law. This medical coverage provides compensation for medical expenses, but not vehicle repairs and related expenses, or for any pain and suffering damages.
Additionally, a driver selects either the limited tort or full tort option on his or her auto policy. This is an important choice which can dramatically impact his or her ability to pursue a claim for pain and suffering against the other driver.
Those who select full tort coverage on their insurance policies are entitled to pursue claims for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. However, a person who has selected the limited tort option may be barred from pursuing a recovery against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, unless one of a limited number of exceptions is applicable. While limited tort coverage is less expensively (typically a savings of approximately 15% in premiums), those savings are often far outweighed by the ability to pursue a claim following an accident. In fact, in handling these cases, we see many unfortunate situations in which drivers are unable to pursue a claim simply because they improperly selected the limited tort option without realizing the significance of that choice.
Discuss Your Car Crash Case with a Cambria County Attorney Today
Whether you need assistance obtaining compensation from your insurance company or intend to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you should not hesitate in taking action in order to avoid statute of limitation issues. A Cambria County car accident lawyer could work with you through every step of the process to help file all forms correctly and on time and provide representation as you require it. Contact Marcus & Mack today to hopefully recover what is rightfully yours.