After being injured in a motor vehicle wreck, you may be wondering what your options are. While your personal auto insurance will cover your medical bills up to the policy limits (which for most drivers is $5,000), that may not be enough to cover the full extent of your losses. In such cases, filing a car accident claim against the negligent party may be your best option to fully recover from the incident. Working with an accomplished Johnstown auto collision attorney could ensure you meet all the requirements to file a viable claim with the correct court.
The main thing that needs to be considered when bringing a vehicle accident claim in Johnstown is the statute of limitations. This statute places a limit on the period of time during which a person can file a lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, this filing deadline is two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the plaintiff’s 18th birthday if he or she was a minor at the time of the incident.
It is also important to make sure that all of the proper defendants are sued in the case. Depending on the circumstances of the wreck, potential defendants include the other driver, that driver’s employer, the vehicle owner, the vehicle manufacturer, or a government entity responsible for the road involved. Each defendant must be specifically and directly named in the claim. If a person should have been named in a claim but was not, and the statute of limitations has expired, any claims against that party are time-barred regardless of their merits.
One of the first steps a person should do when filing a civil claim in Johnstown is determining the proper liable parties for the auto collision. In some cases, if there is no dispute as to who was at-fault for the crash, it may be in both party’s best interest for the plaintiff and defendant’s insurance companies to reach a resolution without the expense of a lawsuit.
It is also important to gather and preserve as much evidence from the scene as possible. This includes photographs and video of injuries, the accident scene, and the vehicle damage, as well as the police report, witness statements and information, and defendants’ identities and contact information. A lawyer could use this information to determine the validity of a claim and determine how to best move forward with the case.
Lastly, a claimant must ensure he or she files his or her claim with the correct court. Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties has a Court of Common Pleas which have jurisdiction to hear all types of cases. Johnstown is in Cambria County, so the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg is where the lawsuit could be filed. The lawsuit could also be filed in the county where the Defendant resides (if the Defendant resides outside Cambria County).
Additionally, there are certain instances where a case may be filed with the federal court, such as if the Defendant resides outside Pennsylvania. An experienced attorney could help determine if this applies to a specific person’s claim.
Due to the procedural rules in litigation and the court system being very complicated, it is highly important to know what you are doing and what the process is. Courts will enforce the procedural rules on every party whether they have legal representation or not. Therefore, it is important to have counsel who is familiar with the process and knows the rules to guide you through filing a car accident claim in Johnstown. Call the office of Marcus & Mack to learn more.