If you were hurt in a vehicle crash, you are likely facing serious financial and physical challenges. The idea of taking your case to trial might be overwhelming, or seemingly impossible under your current circumstances. However, you could recover compensation for your injuries without ever stepping foot in court.
Car accident settlements in Johnstown are an option for people who have been injured by another’s negligence but do not wish to go through litigation. By working with a Johnstown car crash attorney, you could be sure to reach a settlement agreement that fully compensated you for all your losses.
Auto Insurance Settlement Options
Pennsylvania has a unique no-fault system for car insurance and vehicle accidents. When a crash occurs, your own automobile insurance company will pay for your medical bills, regardless of who is at-fault for the collision. If you do not have an auto insurance policy of your own, other policies may be available to cover your medical bills, such as the policy covering the vehicle you were occupying, a policy covering a relative with who you reside, or a policy covering any other vehicle involved in the accident.
Aside from medical bills, you may be entitled to pursue a claim for other losses, such as lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
A driver may opt to buy either full tort or limited tort coverage, and the type of coverage he or she buys determines whether he or she can make a recovery for pain and suffering.
A driver with full tort coverage could sue an at-fault driver to pursue full compensation for all his or her damages, including pain and suffering. A driver with limited tort coverage cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering, unless one of certain exceptions are met. If he or she suffered serious injuries, such as death or a permanent disfigurement, then he or she can still recover for pain and suffering. Unfortunately, many injuries do not rise to the level of being a serious injury.
A Johnstown attorney could help someone injured in a car wreck determine whether a settlement will cover his or her total losses. If not, a lawyer could represent the injured party’s interests in court.
How is a Car Wreck Case Settled?
Once an injured person decides to pursue legal remedies to get appropriate compensation, many factors influence the size and speed of a settlement. A competent car crash attorney in the area could discuss all these factors with a plaintiff to ensure that he or she engages in the settlement process with realistic expectations.
Severity of Injuries
If a person’s injuries are so severe that they will have a permanent impact on his or her ability to work or live independently, negotiations might take longer. A severely injured person is entitled to damages that compensate him or her for diminished or lost income, as well as all the expenses associated with treating the injury and securing the care he or she needs in the future.
Calculating these damages might require the input of clinicians, economists, actuaries, and other experts. The responsible driver’s insurer might dispute the numbers, and a “battle of the experts” might ensue. These discussions usually end with the parties meeting somewhere in the middle, but that could take time.
Damages that might be reasonable for one person could be woefully inadequate for another. A plaintiff’s age, employment status and history, family relationships, and unique talents and interests all could affect the size of a settlement.
For example, if a young person becomes paralyzed and confined to wheelchair for life, the injury might yield higher damages than it would if an elderly person suffered the same injury. If an injury left a chronically unemployed person unable to work, he or she might be entitled to less compensation than if the same injury deprived a highly paid professional of the ability to earn a living.
Allocation of Fault
Pennsylvania follows a rule of comparative negligence. A negligent driver can collect damages from other negligent parties, as long as he or she is less than 51 percent responsible for the accident. The negligent driver’s damages are reduced by an amount that reflects his or her degree of fault. For example, if the total damages were $100,000, and the plaintiff was 15 percent at fault, the award would be reduced by $15,000, for a total recovery of $85,000. If the plaintiff was 51 percent or more at fault, then the plaintiff would be barred from any recovery.
Insurance companies use this statute to reduce their liability by shifting responsibility onto the suing driver. A savvy attorney in Johnstown could help ensure that a plaintiff does not have more than his or her fair share of the blame for a car wreck, but negotiations around this issue could delay a settlement.
Seek a Johnstown Attorney to Handle Car Accident Settlement Talks
Insurance company employees spend their entire careers working to limit the liability of their employer, and they are usually very good at their jobs. If you hope to reach a fair car accident settlement in Johnstown, you need a professional on your side who knows how to counter their negotiating tactics.