Regardless of their severity, car accidents have the power to change lives. At Shrager & Sachs, our Philadelphia car accident lawyers are prepared to help you navigate complicated legal matters and deal with frustrating insurance policies, so you can focus on getting your life back in order.
After being in an auto wreck, it’s likely you’ll have concerns regarding your health and potential financial burdens. If you feel as though your accident resulted from the negligence of another party, you may be eligible for compensation that can help you ease those financial burdens. As your legal representatives, our law firm will do whatever we can to help you obtain monetary awards that can be used to assist with your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In order to begin seeking the compensation you’re entitled to, you’ll want to gather all the evidence you can so we can build a strong case to present to your insurance company. In order to assemble that evidence, it may be beneficial for you to have a better understanding of auto collisions in Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area.
How Common Are Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?
There was a total of 128,188 car crashes in Pennsylvania in 2017. Let’s break that number down by accidents involving property damage, injuries, and fatalities. The facts and statistics below have been compiled from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) 2017 Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics.
- Of the 128,188 car accidents, 68,901 resulted in just property damage, 58,204 resulted in injury, and 1,083 of the crashes resulted in fatalities.
- Most crashes occurred on the highway.
- Nearly 294,000 individuals were involved in the total number of accidents.
- Fortunately, the majority of those people walked away unscathed.
- 80,612 sustained an accident injury. PennDOT categorizes the injuries according to their severity. 27,237 were suspected to have minor injuries. 26,519 sustained injuries of unknown 22,629 were categorized as having a possible injury. The remaining 4,227 were treated for serious injuries.
- As a result of the car wrecks, 1,137 individuals lost their lives.
- Most accident-related deaths in Pennsylvania in 2017 resulted from speeding. The second leading cause of accident-related deaths involved alcohol.
- Even though Philadelphia County is one of the smaller counties in the state, a higher number of crashes occurred when compared to the other 66 counties.
- Philadelphia has high numbers for traffic fatalities related to alcohol consumption, seat belt use, and pedestrians.
- Because of the availability of rideshare services in Philadelphia, Uber and Lyft car accidentsdo occur.
As you can see, motor vehicle accidents are not uncommon in the Keystone State. What’s also common are the reasons many of these accidents happen in the first place.
What Are the Major Causes of Car Crashes?
Car crashes occur for a variety of reasons; however, there are recognizable patterns based on PennDOT’s research:
Speeding. Speeding is the number one reason vehicle wrecks occurred in Pennsylvania in 2017. A little more than 31,000 of the accidents in Pennsylvania in 2017 resulted from speeding. When a driver speeds, their reaction time and control over their vehicle decline. This is especially dangerous in construction zones and on rural backroads. Vehicles traveling at faster speeds also exert more energy in the event of a crash, which means the risk of property damage and injury is significantly higher.
Distracted Driving. Drivers can become distracted for a variety of reasons. Nearly 16,000 accidents resulted from distractions like texting and driving, eating, and adjusting the car’s internal controls. Some other common distractions include personal grooming, gawking at crash scenes, daydreaming, and reaching for fallen objects. No matter how focused we may think we are, the brain isn’t capable of multitasking to the point we can drive and complete other tasks.
Drunk Driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs accounted for 9,143 car wrecks in Pennsylvania in 2017. Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher is considered alcohol-impaired by the law. The effects of driving while intoxicated include drowsiness, impaired vision, reduced reaction times, and difficulty understanding sensory information.
Fatigued Driving. While the number of accidents isn’t as high as the other categories, falling asleep at the wheel is incredibly dangerous. More than 2,500 wrecks were caused by fatigued drivers. A drowsy driver is less able to pay attention to the road, has slower reaction times for speeding or braking, and is unable to make good driving decisions.
Age. Young drivers and mature drivers cause the highest number of accidents – regardless of how many vehicles are involved. A young driver is between the ages of 16 and 21. Mature drivers are 65 and older. A young driver, because of their brain development and tendency to be impulsive, may make rash or dangerous decisions behind the wheel. Mature drivers may suffer from uncorrected vision problems and tend to have slower reactions times.
Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers can help you identify why your accident happened, and why it could have been prevented.
What Are the Common Types of Vehicle Collisions?
Depending on where you’re driving, the condition of the road or weather, and the traffic, different car accidents can occur. While some types of collisions may only result in property damage or minor injuries, others are likely to result in debilitating conditions or death. The most common types of crashes include the following:
- Rear End Collisions. This occurs when one car hits the rear of the car in front of it. These accidents typically happen when the lead vehicle decelerates quickly, or the following car accelerates suddenly. Typically, the individuals in the lead vehicle are more likely to sustain significant injuries like whiplash or soft tissue injuries.
- Sideswipe Crashes. When two vehicles are traveling parallel to one another and one, typically the vehicle on the left, hits the other vehicle on its side, this is called a sideswipe. Distractions and improper merging can result in this type of crash. While many only result in property damage, a forceful sideswipe can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and potentially hit another car or a fixed object.
- Side-Impact Collisions. A side-impact collision occurs when the side of one vehicle is hit by the front or rear of another. This is sometimes referred to as a T-bone accident because of the shape the two vehicles makes. Depending on the speed and the force of the collision, injuries and damages may be severe. Safety features like airbags and crumple zones can save lives.
- Vehicle Rollovers. Certain vehicles, like tractor trailers or large SUVs, are more susceptible to rollover accidents. A rollover happens when a vehicle flips on its side or roof – generally as a result of speeding around a sharp turn. The occupants are likely to be injured. If a commercial vehicle rolls over and is carrying hazardous materials, clean up can block traffic flow for a significant amount of time.
- Head-On Crashes. Head-on accidents, when the front ends of two vehicles traveling in opposing directions collide, are often the deadliest – especially when the vehicles are traveling at high speeds. Drunk driving and distractions contribute to this type of accident.
- Multi-Vehicle Pileups. These accidents are often a chain of events. If one vehicle strikes another on the highway and the surrounding cars are unable to get out of the way, more collisions are possible. Individuals who decide to leave their vehicles in these instances are at risk of being struck by other cars. Multi-vehicle pileups can become deadly when big rigs are involved.
- Single-Vehicle Accidents. A single-vehicle accident, as its name implies, involves only one car. This can happen when a driver is distracted and hits a fixed vehicle, or when inclement weather and icy conditions cause dangerous hydroplaning.
- Hit-and-Run Accidents. When two or more vehicles collide, the drivers are supposed to trade information for insurance purposes. When a driver hits another vehicle and leaves the scene without speaking to the other driver or leaving their information, they are committing a crime.
Depending on the severity of the car accident, a number of physical, mental, and financial consequences can result. Our lawyers can help you manage the financial consequences, like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, so you can focus on recovering physically and mentally.
How Serious Are the Physical and Mental Consequences of a Crash?
Unfortunately, many car accidents result in some type of injury. While some people may only sustain minor physical injuries that require little medical intervention, others may need surgery or physical therapy. Some people also suffer from the emotional trauma associated with the accident. Being aware of the most common consequences related to car accidents can give you a better understanding of how people recover and get their lives back in order.
The most common physical injuries include:
- Lacerations and Bruises. The force of impact is likely to propel passengers forward quickly and pull them back just as fast. As a result, cuts or scrapes from objects inside the car are likely. They’re every more likely if broken glass is involved. Seatbelts and coming into contact with the inside of the vehicle can result in bruising.
- Head Injuries. Vehicle occupants involved in high-speed collisions may come in contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows. Traumatic brain injuries, ranging from mild concussions to debilitating brain injuries, may result.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. The neck and spinal cord are incredibly delicate. Minor damage may result in painful whiplash. More serious injuries could cause temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Broken Bones. Broken arms, legs, hands, feet, and ribs are common in auto crashes. Some broken bones can be set and immobilized and will heal over time. Other broken bones may require surgeries and physical therapy.
- Internal Bleeding. Internal bleeding can be dangerous and even deadly if not treated quickly after a crash.
No matter how you’re feeling after being in a car accident, it’s always a good idea to be evaluated by a qualified physician.
It’s understandable to be worried about your physical health and financial status after an automobile accident. It’s just as important, however, to be cognizant of your mental health. A traumatic event like a wreck can leave individuals with emotions they may be uncertain how to cope with. While things may settle over time, there are some individuals who may need to seek additional help to get their lives back in order.
Individuals who are suffering from any of the following symptoms after a vehicle collision should seek the guidance of a mental health professional:
- Worsening anxiety or uneasiness
- Lack of focus
- Unmanageable fear of driving or being in a vehicle
- Difficulty eating or sleeping
- Excessive anger
- Extreme guilt
- Feeling emotionally disconnected
A mental health professional can help car accident victims learn to cope with the trauma they’ve experienced through a number of methods, including therapy and medication.
What Should You Do After an Automobile Wreck?
If you are in an accident, there are certain actions you should take to protect yourself and improve your chance of receiving full and fair compensation.
- Stop. Never drive away from an accident scene, no matter how minor. You could be convicted of a hit-and-run. If you can, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic and stay put.
- Protect Other Drivers. If your accident occurs at night, other unsuspecting drivers could end up in an accident if they are unaware of what has occurred. If you have flares, it’s a good idea to set them up. If not, put your blinkers on.
- Record What You Remember. If you can, record what happened as quickly as possible so you don’t forget anything. You’ll want to make sure you’re able to determine when the accident happened, where it happened, and what the consequences were. Take photos of any property damage and injuries.
- Call the Police. A police report can help you obtain compensation when you’re dealing with your insurance company. When the police arrive, tell them what you can remember. Never speculate what may have happened and never apologize. If your apology makes it into the report, an insurance company could use that against you.
- Exchange Information. You’ll need to speak with the other driver involved to get their contact information.
- Seek Medical Attention. If you are experiencing any pain or see any visible injuries after an accident, it’s imperative to seek medical attention right away. Even if you feel okay, it’s important to follow up with a doctor as soon as possible. You may have injuries you cannot see. Untreated injuries are likely to get worse. Seeking treatment from a physician can also help your car accident claim because you’ll have proof of physical injuries and medical bills.
- Keep a File. You’ll want to keep all of your crash-related documents together and in one place. The information you should keep includes your insurance claim number, the contact information for the adjuster working on your case, names and phone numbers for individuals involved in the accident, receipts for rental cars or autobody expenses, medical bills, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
- Protect Your Rights. After you’ve taken care of your physical injuries, one of the most important things you can do is contact an attorney. At Shrager & Sachs, we can advise you on issues related to the accident, like making sure you get full compensation for your vehicle and ensuring you get the best medical treatments available.
What Are the Vehicle Accident Laws in Pennsylvania?
In the event you are in a car accident in or around the Philadelphia area or anywhere in Pennsylvania, the first step is to always evaluate yourself for physical injuries and check on the other involved parties. If anyone needs emergency medical attention, contact 911 right away.
After you’ve determined the wellbeing of the involved parties, you’ll need to obtain several pieces of information from the other driver. You’ll want to exchange names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, tag numbers, and insurance information. You’ll need this information when you submit your accident claim to your insurance company.
While not all accidents require law enforcement attention, you will need to call them to the scene of the accident if the wreck resulted in any injury or death, or if a vehicle was damaged to the point it cannot be driven away from the scene without being towed. If you are uncertain, call 911. The dispatcher will ask you a series of questions and will determine if police assistance is needed.
After the accident, you have five days to request a copy of the accident report to send to your legal representative. Our personal injury lawyers can help you determine if you need to file a lawsuit after your car accident. In the rare event that you do, the statute of limitations from personal injury cases gives you two years from the date of your accident to file with the state’s civil court system. If you fail to file within this time limit, your case will be refused.
Pennsylvania follows a no-fault insurance liability law. This means that after most car collisions, your own insurance company will provide coverage for your medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault. Unless your case meets a serious injury threshold, you can’t hold the other driver liable for the accident. Our attorneys understand that serious injury is a vague term, so we’ll be able to help you decide what’s in your best interests.
How Do I Obtain a Car Accident Report in Philadelphia?
After your accident, there’s a chance you may want a copy of your car accident report from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Records. You may request a copy of the accident report in-person or by mail. You must have acceptable identification to request the report. This can include a driver’s license or a state-issued photo ID. A non-refundable fee will be charged when you ask to access the report. You may also request traffic accident photographs for an additional fee.
Additional parties have the right to access your auto accident report. These parties include your lawyers, the involved insurance companies, authorized agents from the insurance companies, and government agencies.
How Can Shrager & Sachs Help Me Receive Compensation?
As the victim of a car crash, dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be frustrating. Policies often contain terms that are not easy to identify or understand. With the right legal team backing you, reaching a full and fair settlement for your accident should go smoothly. If you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident, we may be able to help you receive compensation and closure by filing a claim on their behalf.
At Shrager & Sachs, our practice has extensive experience dealing with automobile accident claims and injury law all across Pennsylvania. We assist our clients with building a case with the evidence they need to support their circumstances. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact us today for a consultation. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers will help you understand your legal rights, so you can focus on your recovery.