Regardless of their severity, car accidents can change a person’s life forever. Whether the injuries are permanent or if they’re going to take a long time to heal, the turmoil a car accident victim goes through can be overwhelming. If you’ve been in an auto accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be eligible for compensation. A Philadelphia car accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs is 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. Filing a personal injury claim could help you get the compensation you deserve and hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. 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 the damages and losses the accident caused. To start your legal journey, contact our office for a free consultation today.
Shrager & Sachs Protects Car Accident Victims
We understand how uncertain the future can be after a car accident. We’re here to provide clarity and a way forward. Our experienced lawyers will fiercely advocate for you to recover maximum compensation. With this peace of mind, you’ll be able to feel more secure about the future.
Our auto accident attorneys will answer your questions and provide the information you need so you know what to expect when seeking compensation. The following sections may benefit you:
- How Common Are Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?
- What Are the Major Causes of Car Crashes?
- What Are the Common Types of Vehicle Collisions?
- Safe Driving Tips for Pennsylvania Drivers
- The Physical and Mental Consequences of a Crash
- What Should You Do After an Automobile Wreck?
- Have a Car Accident Lawyer at Your Side
- Pennsylvania Insurance Law
- How Do You Obtain a Car Accident Report?
- How Can Insurance Companies Reduce Your Claim?
- The Dangers of Posting on Social Media
- When Can You Return to Work After a Car Accident?
- What Happens If Your Case Goes to Trial?
- Our Law Firm Will Defend Your Rights
We serve the hardworking citizens of Philadelphia and the greater state of Pennsylvania. Someone else’s mistake shouldn’t leave you with uncertainty when it comes to your finances and your physical and emotional health. With our lawyers at your side, we’ll seek compensation that will give you the opportunity to heal. Before learning more about how we can help you, let’s go over Pennsylvania car accident statistics and how many people they affect.
How Common Are Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?
There was a total of 128,420 car crashes in Pennsylvania in 2018. 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) 2018 Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics.
- Of the 128,420 car accidents, there were 1,190 total fatalities and 78,219 total injuries.
- PennDOT categorizes the injuries according to their severity. 33,551 were suspected to have minor injuries. 22,844 sustained injuries of unknown severity. 17,290 were categorized as having a possible injury. The remaining 4,534 were treated for serious injuries.
- Alcohol-related crashes resulted in 331 fatalities and speed-related crashes caused 280 fatalities.
- Philadelphia County had 100 fatal injury crashes, 7,599 injury crashes, 3,304 property damage only crashes, and had a total of 11,003 crashes.
- Because of the availability of rideshare services in Philadelphia, Uber and Lyft car accidents do occur. When multiple parties are involved in a rideshare accident, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault and responsible for the damages. Our attorneys can help you with your claim.
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. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers are aware of the myriad reasons why auto collisions occur. Let’s take a look at the possible reasons that could explain why your car accident happened.
What Are the Major Causes of Car Crashes?
When we’re investigating your case, we’ll look into what caused your accident. The more commonly known cause of car accidents is driver error, where a driver acted in a negligent manner and lost control of their vehicle. Driver-error accidents can happen for a number of reasons.
When it comes to driver-error crashes, speeding caused the most accidents in 2018. About 32,710 of the accidents in Pennsylvania resulted from speeding. When a driver speeds, their reaction time and control over their vehicle declines. The NHTSA lists the following additional consequences of speeding:
- Protective equipment has reduced effectiveness
- The stopping distance increases when the driver spots a potential danger
- The crash severity increases, which can cause more severe injuries
- Increased fuel use and cost
Speeding is especially dangerous in construction zones and on rural backroads. Construction zones can have multiple workers and equipment in or near the road. If a speeding driver loses control, they could hit construction workers or an object. Rural backroads may have more turns and instances of animal crossing, so when a driver is speeding, they could accidentally flip their vehicle if they take a turn too fast or hit an animal that runs out into the road.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a person may choose to speed. If they’re running late, they may try to make up the time on the road. They’re more focused on getting to their destination on time than driving safely.
Aggressive drivers may also speed so they can weave around vehicles and get through traffic. However, their speed and constant lane changing puts everyone on the road in danger.
There may be an added sense of anonymity because the driver is separate from others on the road. This feeling can make them think they can get away with this speeding because they’ll never be around these drivers again or because they don’t see police cars.
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
When drivers are following the speed limit, this doesn’t always mean they’re making the safest decision. The speed limit applies when the driving conditions allow it. However, if there are poor weather conditions, then it may be too dangerous to drive the speed limit.
Rain, snow, and ice are all conditions that make it difficult to see and make the roads slippery. Even light rain can make the roads slick and reduce tire grip on the road. Some storms can cover the road in debris. When you’re driving in dangerous conditions, it’s important to adjust your speed so you remain in control of your vehicle. You also give yourself more time and space to react to situations on the road.
Drivers can become distracted for a variety of reasons. In 2018, distracted driving caused 2,841 fatalities. Distractions can work in a number of ways. They may keep the driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, their mind off driving, or a combination of all three. This common cause for an accident will likely be familiar to your Philadelphia car accident lawyer due to the many types of distractions.
One major distraction that keeps a driver’s eyes off the road is a cell phone—mainly texting and driving. People are often tempted to reach for their phone to check messages, notifications, and answer calls. Some may also use their phone as a navigational device. While one can increase the safety of using a GPS app with a mount on the dashboard, constantly looking at the phone to make sure they’re on the right route can still create a distraction.
Some actions that you may not have considered to be distracting but are include messing with your radio station, adjusting the volume, or using other car controls like heating and air conditioning.
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.
People can also cause distractions. When there is more than one person in the car, the noise level and conversation can take the driver’s attention away from the road.
Drivers can take certain measures to reduce distractions in their car. Putting phones and any other objects that could be distracting out of arm’s reach will prevent the driver from using those items while driving. Setting car controls before driving, refraining from eating or drinking, and keeping the mind focused on the task ahead can also make a driver more attentive.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs accounted for 8,519 car wrecks in Pennsylvania. Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher is considered alcohol-impaired by law. The effects of driving while intoxicated are dangerous even if someone is below the legal limit. While there isn’t a safe way to drive while intoxicated, the effects on driving worsen when the person’s BAC level increases.
At the legal limit, a driver may experience issues with concentration, short-term memory loss, impaired perception, controlling the vehicle’s speed, and trouble recognizing objects on the road. Drunk drivers often have slowed reaction times, can drift out of their lanes, and won’t be able to make quick decisions on the road.
Following Too Closely
This aggressive driving behavior takes away the driver’s reaction time to stop if the car in front of them suddenly hits the brakes or slows to make a turn. Sometimes, drivers may think the person in front of them isn’t going fast enough. This can result in the aggressive driver staying right behind the driver in front of them. If someone is driving aggressively and the car in front needs to stop, they will likely collide.
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.
Some drivers may not recognize fatigue or think that drinking caffeine or turning up the music will help them become more alert. However, this does not eliminate exhaustion. According to the CDC, signs of fatigue include:
- Frequent yawning or blinking
- Missing exits or turns
- Drifting from your lane
- Not remembering driving recent miles
- Hitting rumble strips
Drivers can combat drowsy driving by getting enough sleep on a consistent basis and not taking anything that could cause drowsiness, such as medication, or drinking alcohol.
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. They’re also likely to be new drivers. Inexperienced drivers may not be used to certain driving situations like heavy traffic, driving in bad weather, or driving at night. Mature drivers may suffer from uncorrected vision problems and tend to have slower reactions times.
While these reasons for car accidents are from driver error, it is possible a car accident occurred, but the at-fault party isn’t present at the scene of the accident.
Defective Auto Parts
If the brakes fail, a tire blows, or other mechanical issues happen while a driver is behind the wheel, they could lose control of their vehicle and cause a car wreck. The driver may have had a defective auto part. The manufacturing company that sold that part may be responsible.
Going up against a company can seem like a daunting task, but our lawyers have stood up to companies before. We’ll do everything we can to hold the company accountable for putting defective products on the market and endangering the safety of others.
What Are the Common Types of Vehicle Collisions?
When we’re looking into your case, we’ll assess the details of the accident to find out the kind of collision that occurred. There are some common types of crashes that you were most likely involved in. Knowing the type of crash can help provide information on how the other driver was negligent.
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:
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 damage.
Distracted driving often results in a rear-end collision. If someone looks at their phone and doesn’t see the car stopped in front of them, they’ll either hit the vehicle without knowing they needed to stop or look up and not have enough time to avoid the collision.
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.
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 make.
These collisions typically happen at intersections. A car could be making a turn and not see oncoming traffic or incorrectly gauge how fast the other vehicle is traveling. This could result in the car turning in front of an oncoming vehicle because they thought they had more time.
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.
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 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. There’s a chance of ejection through the windshield or debris breaking through the windshield and injuring the front seat occupants. Drunk driving and distractions contribute to this type of car accident.
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. Determining liability can be difficult with multiple parties involved, which is why you’ll want a Philadelphia car accident lawyer on your side.
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 object, or when inclement weather and icy conditions cause dangerous hydroplaning. While it may not seem as dangerous as hitting another vehicle, single-vehicle accidents can result in severe injuries and fatalities.
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.
Hit-and-run accidents can be devastating. When you’re injured and someone flees the scene, you may not know what to do next. Your first priority is to protect your health. After taking care of that, you can give as much detail you remember to the police. While you may not have caught the license plate, the make and model of the car can help.
When you’re handling the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident, it may seem like the person who injured you got away with it and you’re left with injuries and financial losses. Keep in mind that the police will investigate your accident. They could look at possible surveillance cameras and eyewitnesses to track down the hit-and-run driver. If they find them, you may be dealing with their insurance company. But there’s also the chance they do not find the driver. No matter the outcome, having an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer at your side will give you the best chance of recovery.
Whether your injuries were minor or severe, they shouldn’t have happened at all. Your attorney from Shrager & Sachs determines the type of crash and then works on getting you the compensation you deserve.
Now that you’re aware of the various types of crashes, let’s go over ways to increase your safety on the road to reduce the chances of these happening. When you have these tips in mind, you’re more likely to keep your mind on safe driving when you’re behind the wheel. This can help you be more confident on the road because you know you’ve taken several safety precautions to make you more alert and prepared.
Safe Driving Tips for Pennsylvania Drivers
Staying safe on the road entails more than staying alert and aware on the road. Before heading out, there are already quite a few things you can do to increase your road safety.
- Plan Ahead. The NHTSA recommends planning your trips ahead of time. You can figure out how long the trip will take and what roads you’ll be taking. If those roads are closed, you can plan alternative routes as well. When you have a general idea of where you’re going, you’ll rely less on navigation apps and will pay more attention to the road.
- Check Road Conditions. You should also check the weather to see if any storms are going to pass through. It’s important to do this year-round, but especially in the winter months. Pennsylvania is one of the most dangerous states to drive in during winter. When you check the weather, this will allow you to adjust your schedule if you need to leave earlier or later. You can also see if the route you’re taking is under construction or has heavy traffic, so you know to avoid that way.
- Maintain Your Vehicle. Giving your car regular tune-ups and making the proper changes for the season will make your vehicle more dependable on the road. You won’t have to worry about experiencing problems while driving because professional mechanics have looked over your vehicle. During these appointments, if they do find something wrong, you can work on getting it fixed as soon as possible.
- Don’t Drive If You’re Upset. If something is upsetting you while you’re driving, you may become angry or begin to cry. When you’re angry, there’s a better chance of making aggressive driving choices. If you’re crying, your vision is obstructed, and your mind is on what’s making you cry. If you find yourself too upset to drive but you’re not at your destination yet, find a spot to safely pull over and stop the vehicle. Shift the gear in park and wait to calm down before you get back on the road.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has the saying “Start SMART, Stay SMART.” When you start SMART, you do the following:
- S. Your seat belt is on and the seat is adjusted properly.
- M. Your mirrors are adjusted and clear of dirt or snow.
- A. You’ve adjusted your air conditioning, heating, or defrost.
- R. The radio and audio are set.
- T. You’ve thoroughly checked the area for other drivers, pedestrians, and fixed objects.
Driving SMART entails:
- S. You’re following the speed limit.
- M. You’re checking your mirrors on a regular basis.
- A. You’re avoiding distractions like cell phones.
- R. You have the rules of the road in mind.
- T. You allowed enough time to get to your destination.
How to Spot a Dangerous Driver
While you’re taking measures to drive as safely as possible, this doesn’t mean other drivers will do the same. If you’re concerned about what to do if there’s a dangerous driver on the road, you’ll first need to know how to recognize a reckless driver who could potentially cause a car accident.
Your awareness of your surroundings is essential to spotting a dangerous driver. If you notice another driver doing the following, then they’re not prioritizing safety:
- Weaving between lanes
- Laying on their horn
- Blocking other cars
- Failing to use their signal
It can be scary to spot a driver endangering others on the road. If you’re near them, consider getting into the right lane and waiting for them to pass. Don’t speed to get away from them. If the driver is being reckless to the point where you believe there’s a high chance they’re going to lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident, there’s also the option of contacting police to alert them a reckless driver is on the road.
When you make this decision, do not follow the car. Pull off at the next exit or to the side of the road when it is safe to do so. Know that if you’re on a busy highway, stopping on the shoulder can be dangerous and using an exit to go to a rest stop or gas station is safer. When you are off the road and parked, you can call the police and inform them of the driver.
While you can take precautions to be as safe as possible on the road, sometimes this doesn’t stop a negligent driver from causing an auto collision. Unfortunately, the effects of a crash can take a significant toll on your life. A Philadelphia car accident attorney from Shrager & Sachs will do everything possible to help you recover for the damages the crash caused.
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.
A car has a protective autobody with safety measures like airbags and seat belts, which may reduce the severity of injuries but not stop them all from happening. 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. Seat belts 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. If the head is jostled or bumped, the brain can sustain an injury. Traumatic brain injuries range from mild concussions to debilitating brain injuries. If they’re severe, they can result in permanent consequences like loss of function. In some cases, patients may need to be put in a medically induced coma to help the brain heal. Sometimes, a patient may have lasting brain injuries that prevent them from communicating or even being aware of their surroundings.
- Whiplash. When the head jerks back and forth in a crash, whiplash can be a resulting injury. This neck injury can cause significant pain that causes headaches and shoulder pain.
- 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.
- Nerve Damage. When nerve damage occurs, you could lose some feeling or function around the injury site. Severe accidents may cause such severe nerve damage that amputation is necessary.
- Disfigurement. The crash’s impact or the debris can cause facial fractures or scarring that results in permanent damage.
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. This way, you can get your injuries assessed and know what you need to do to work toward recovery.
A Philadelphia car accident lawyer will look into the injuries you sustained and how long they’ll affect you. When injuries have permanent consequences, you may no longer be able to return to your previous job or the workforce. A catastrophic injury will affect you for the rest of your life and can cause significant stress. No longer being able to work or perform daily tasks can be overwhelming. As you’re adjusting to living with your injury, you may need extensive and continued medical care in the future, which can include needing medical equipment to maintain a high quality of life.
Learning that you won’t be able to make a full recovery can be devastating. As you’re dealing with these physical injuries, the sudden change to your life can also have emotional effects. These issues are just as important as physical ones and may require their own form of care.
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 about 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
Getting the care you need for your mental health is vital. The above symptoms can be common immediately after the accident, but if they persist, you may want to seek professional help. 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.
As you’re looking at the physical and emotional trauma you need to treat, you may worry about how you’re going to afford care. When our car accident attorneys are at your side, you won’t have to be put in a position where you need to choose between your physical and mental wellbeing.
What Should You Do After an Automobile Wreck?
If you are in an accident, the shock of what just happened can leave you feeling like you don’t know what to do next. However, there are certain actions you should take to protect yourself and improve your chance of receiving full and fair compensation. Follow these steps after a car accident so you can get the care you need and document the necessary evidence at the scene.
- Stop and Remain Calm. While in this heightened situation you will likely be feeling many emotions, it’s important to remain calm and stay at the scene. Do not ever drive away from an accident scene, no matter how minor. Fleeing a scene could make the accident a hit-and-run.
- Assess Yourself for Injuries. Check yourself for injuries. If it’s not safe to move, you should stay still and wait for help to arrive. If you’re able to move, you can assist others who were in the accident. Then you can get to the side of the road and move on to the next step.
- Protect Other Drivers. If your accident occurred 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.
- Call Emergency Services. Alerting emergency services will send professionals who can assess your injuries and the police. Allow medical professionals to look at your injuries and treat what they can.
- Move Your Car Out of Traffic. Your car may be blocking traffic lanes. There’s a chance you could be able to move the vehicle to the side of the road, so you don’t congest traffic. However, proceed with caution. If a part of your car is leaking or smoking, do not attempt to move the car and give it a wide berth. Leaking fluids and smoke are signs of a potential fire hazard and you could be at risk of burn injuries if you’re near the car.
- Speak to Police. When you give your statement to the police, you’re documenting your side of the story. This evidence, along with their unbiased assessment of the scene, can provide a lot of help for your claim. There are a few things to remember when speaking to police. Only tell them what you can remember. It’s okay if you don’t have all the details. Never speculate what may have happened because it may not have happened.
- Don’t Assign Blame or Apologize. While you may think the other driver was at fault, this may not always be the case. The investigation will show the identity of the negligent party. Incorrectly assigning blame could affect your credibility. You also shouldn’t apologize, even if you want to convey you’re sorry the situation happened at all. Apologizing could be seen as admitting fault, which could affect your claim later.
- Exchange Information. If you and the other person involved in the accident are able, you should exchange information so you can give your insurance company the necessary information about the crash. This includes name, contact information, make, model and VIN of your car, and insurance policies.
- 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. While you’ve given statements to police, it’s still important to preserve evidence. Photographs allow you to capture the damages, injuries, condition of the road, and weather when the accident occurred and can help your personal injury claim.
After you’ve taken care of everything at the scene of the accident, there is still another important step to take before seeking out a car accident attorney: seeking a medical evaluation from your physician.
You may be experiencing pain, notice visible injuries after an accident, or you may even feel completely fine. Whatever the case, it’s imperative to seek medical attention right away. Many car accidents leave victims in shock—the stress hormones can mask symptoms of pain. Latent injuries are a possibility and you may not notice symptoms until hours or sometimes days after the accident. Also, keep in mind that some injuries may not be immediately noticeable. Feeling pain or trying to work through pain isn’t normal. See your doctor as soon as possible.
Getting an official medical evaluation will benefit you in myriad ways. Your doctor will be able to find the extent of your injuries and create a treatment plan. The sooner you begin treating your injuries, the sooner you’ll be able to recover and get back to your life.
When you’re telling your doctor your symptoms, don’t leave anything out or downplay your pain. It’s imperative to be honest and give them all the information so they can form an accurate treatment plan that will help you.
Visiting a doctor will give you the documentation showing your injuries were severe enough to warrant a doctor’s appointment and that you needed treatment, which will help your claim in the future.
It’s also important to know the damage that can happen from waiting to see a doctor. Untreated injuries are likely to get worse. If the injuries continue to worsen, your recovery time could lengthen, or your injuries could cause chronic issues. This may have not been the case if you had seen a doctor sooner and you may not be able to recover full compensation for your medical expenses. When you need to pay for medical care out of pocket, it can be financially stressful and draining.
In addition to having worse injuries, it can also affect your credibility when you file a car accident claim. Your insurance company could question why you waited to see a doctor and make the argument that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim. This could also affect your compensation.
When you’ve taken care of your medical evaluation, then you can proceed to the following steps:
- Keep a File. Filing a claim takes a lot of documentation and organization. Having one place to keep all your important documents can relieve a lot of stress and make this process easier. 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. 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.
- Request Your Accident Report. After the accident, you have five days to request a copy of the accident report to send to your legal representative. Our auto accident 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.
Now that you’re aware of what you need to do after a car accident, let’s look at all the ways a Philadelphia car accident attorney can help you.
Have a Car Accident Lawyer at Your Side
While you may know that having a lawyer represent you can help you get the compensation you deserve, you may not know the various damages they’ll seek on your behalf. When you’re seeking compensation for a personal injury, you’re likely going to try to recover for your economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are likely what you’re most familiar with as they’re the monetary losses from the accident. These include medical expenses, which are any expenses you’ve incurred from past treatment and what you will incur in the future as your treatment progresses. For example, you may have needed to go to the hospital, medication, and your recovery process may entail surgeries, physical therapy, and medical equipment. Medical bills can easily become extensive and overwhelming, which can seem worse when your work is affected.
Compensation for lost wages is another aspect of economic damages. During your recovery time, you may not be able to return to work for days, weeks, or even months. While most employees may have sick days or paid time off, these may not be enough to cover the time you’ll need off from work.
You may depend on the regular paycheck to keep up with your living expenses and bills. When that’s no longer coming in, you may start to worry about how you’re going to afford your regular expenses on top of your medical ones. We’ll look into the days of work you’ve missed and calculate the pay you would have earned if you had been uninjured and able to work.
If you’ve sustained injuries that prevent you from returning to your previous job, you may also have a decrease in the amount of wages you can make. You may also not be able to return to the workforce at all if you sustained a catastrophic injury. Our lawyers will fight for you to recover compensation for diminished earning capacity or loss of earnings.
Another significant monetary loss you could recover damages for is property damage. If your car was damaged in the accident, you could be looking at significant costs of repairs. Your compensation can help cover those costs.
The other aspect of your compensation is noneconomic damages. These refer to the non-monetary losses you’ve suffered because of the accident. These may not be apparent at first or they may not show up as a bill, but they are still significant consequences that happened because of someone else’s negligence.
Your injuries may have caused pain and suffering. You’re dealing with painful injuries, having to go through the recovery process, and your life may have changed because of the accident. Pain and suffering can take a severe emotional toll on someone. Those who are dealing with terrible injuries may also be thinking about the experiences they’re missing because of the accident.
If your injuries have made you miss events, activities, or you’ve had to drastically change your lifestyle, then you may recover compensation for loss of enjoyment of life. You may find you have to relearn how to do basic things like cook or keep up with hygienic routines. Not being able to go to graduations, weddings, or even more casual events like going to a restaurant for dinner with your family can make you feel isolated and frustrated.
An injury that caused a permanent change like loss of function or disfigurement can cause mental anguish. Having to learn to live with a permanent injury that was someone else’s fault is a lot for someone to deal with. While compensation for your economic damages will help you get the care you need, you’re still dealing with a completely different life. That’s why our lawyers will fiercely advocate for your recovery of noneconomic damages.
These can be difficult to calculate as they don’t have a set monetary amount. However, there are different ways to calculate noneconomic damages. One way is the multiplier method. This is when the total economic damages are multiplied by a factor that can range from 1.5 to 5. More serious injuries will get higher multipliers. Your lawyer will carefully assess your injuries to determine the multiplier.
If your lawyer uses the multiplier method, know that it’s possible for the insurance company to try to contest this. They may try to find evidence that your pain and suffering isn’t as serious as you claim. If they can decrease the multiplier, then you’ll get less compensation.
Another method is called the daily rate method. Your lawyer will determine the daily rate, or cost, of your injuries. Then, they’ll multiple this by how long your recovery process will take. Your lawyer will calculate your daily cost of injuries as accurately as possible. This number may be contested by the insurance company, but we’ll carefully review the costs of your injuries to get an accurate daily number.
When we have calculated your compensation amount, then we’ll begin to fight for you to recover it. While the other side may try to contest your claim or try to get you to settle for less than what you’re owed, your car accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs will be in your corner the entire time. Our lawyers know the factors that can affect claims and how to build a strong case. We’ll make sure your best interests are put first so you have the best chance of getting compensation.
As we review your economic and noneconomic losses, we’ll also keep the state’s insurance laws in mind and how they could potentially affect your case. Let’s go over how insurance law works in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Insurance Law
While drivers are required to have insurance to operate their vehicle, insurance law varies state by state. Drivers in Pennsylvania are required to have insurance to cover the costs of an accident. The minimum is:
- $15,000 for injury to one person in an accident
- $30,000 for injury to two or more people in an accident
- $5,000 for damage to another’s property in an accident
After a car accident, the driver may think the responsible party will be the one who will pay back the damages and losses they caused. This is typically how an at-fault states works. While there are many states that follow this, Pennsylvania works a little differently.
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. However, there are instances where you will not be able to recover noneconomic damages. These damages can take a major toll on car accident victims and it can be limiting to not be able to seek compensation for them.
To seek out these types of damages, suing the other driver may be your best option. However, if your case doesn’t meet 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 You Obtain a Car Accident Report?
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.
You may be wondering why having an attorney on your side is the best way to assure you protect your rights. Let’s look into how an insurance company may try to reduce the compensation you’re entitled to.
How Can Insurance Companies Reduce Your Claim?
After your accident and you inform your insurance company, your case will be assigned to an insurance adjuster. Their job is to assess the damages and the compensation you can receive. However, it’s important to remember that they’re working for the insurance company. The insurance company makes money when you don’t receive full compensation. Remember, they’re going to protect their bottom line.
When an insurance adjuster contacts you, it may be quickly after your accident. They may try to get you to make an official or recorded statement. It’s essential to not do this as any information you give can be used against you.
During a conversation, their questions may seem normal at first, but then turn more aggressive. Starting conversations with a normal how are you may prompt you to answer that you’re fine to be polite and move on to the important part of the conversation. However, they could use your response as evidence that you’re not injured or in pain.
An insurance adjuster may also ask you about your injuries even though you may not realize how severe your injuries are at this point. It’s important to not provide medical information. You can say you’re waiting for your doctor’s evaluation. If you answer and say you have shoulder pain, then the insurance adjuster will make a note of that. However, you may then find out your shoulder pain is a result of whiplash, a neck injury. If you’re seeking compensation for expenses related to a neck injury, the insurance company may ask why you didn’t state your neck injury—even though you weren’t aware of it.
Another tactic you should be wary of is when the adjuster will try to get you to settle early. This may seem appealing for a number of reasons. You’ll get a compensation amount, you won’t have to go through a legal process, and the matter will be said and done. However, this doesn’t necessarily put you in the best place. Your settlement may not be enough to cover your medical costs and could put you in a financially difficult situation.
Filing a personal injury claim with a skilled car accident attorney at your side is how you can have someone representing your best interests. Shrager & Sachs will help you communicate with the insurance company, so they get the information they need without putting your claim in jeopardy. You won’t have to worry about harassing phone calls or other tactics that could be used to reduce your claim.
The Dangers of Posting on Social Media
Social media can harm your claim. Today, it’s common for everyone to have multiple social media accounts. It’s common for people to post about their lives on a regular basis. This is a main way for people to update others about what’s going on in their lives. While it can be incredibly tempting to talk about your accident on social media, it’s best to refrain from the following:
- Posting about the accident.
- Assigning blame about your crash.
- Talking about your injuries and how you’re feeling.
- Making posts and deleting them.
The best way to protect this aspect of your life is to set all your social media account settings to private. This way, you control who sees your posts. Even if some posts were before the accident and didn’t have anything to do with it, you don’t know any conclusions the insurance company could make from having access to your public accounts.
In addition to this, you may also consider not posting until your case is concluded. You won’t have to worry about revealing any information and this will be one less factor in your case that you’ll have to be mindful of. If you have any questions, you can always consult with your lawyer.
When Can You Return to Work After a Car Accident?
When you know the extent of your injuries, you have a recovery plan, and you’re starting to take legal action, another major aspect of your life may be on your mind: work. It’s understandable to want to get back to work quickly, as missing days of pay can be stressful after you run out of sick days. But there are some risks you should know about if you try to go back to work before you’re ready.
Returning to work too early can be more detrimental to your recovery than waiting for when your doctor clears you to work again. When you begin to feel better, this doesn’t mean you’re fully healed or you’re at a place in the recovery process where you’re able to go back. If you return to work too early, you may begin to feel symptoms of your injuries. Trying to ignore or work through the pain isn’t a good idea, as the pain is indicating an injury and isn’t likely to go away on its own.
You may re-injure yourself or make your injuries worse. In these cases, you may not be able to get compensation to cover these injuries because they weren’t caused by the car accident.
The best way to return to work safely is to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and wait for their approval before going back. Go to the follow-up appointments and tell your doctor how you’re feeling so they can accurately continue to treat you.
If you get your doctor’s approval to go back to work but you still find you’re in pain, you may not be able to return to your previous position yet. You should make another appointment with your doctor so you can address the pain you’re still feeling. Then, inform your employer you’re still feeling pain. You may find that you can work in a different position or have slightly modified duties so you’re still working but not putting further stress on your body.
It’s important to know that you may not be able to conclude your legal matters before returning to work. The legal process can take time and you may find that the best way for you to get maximum compensation for your injuries is to go to trial. Let’s take a look at the trial process and what you can expect if you take this step.
What Happens If Your Case Goes to Trial?
Before a case goes to trial, both parties in a case may try to reach a settlement. However, if the offer will not help you recover from your injuries, you may take your case to trial. Your lawyer will help advise you on this decision, so you’ll be fully informed of what going to trial entails. When you’re going to trial, it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of taking this step.
- Advantages: Chance of recovering maximum compensation if the jury rules in your favor.
- Disadvantages: The time needed to reach a decision and the trial will be public, whereas there’s privacy with a settlement.
Having experienced legal representation is important for compiling the necessary evidence to show that you were wrongfully injured and deserve compensation for what you’ve been through. The lawyers at Shrager & Sachs have experience in the courtroom. We’re familiar with the process and are ready to answer your questions about what to expect if your case goes to trial.
Our Law Firm Will Defend Your Rights
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. This is a lot for anyone to handle on their own. With the right legal team backing you, reaching a full and fair settlement for your accident should go smoothly.
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. This includes gathering important documents, photographs, personal accounts, and consulting with expert witnesses or specialists who can provide insight into your case.
We’ll also provide help if you’re seeking justice for someone else. 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. A wrongful death claim will allow you to give your loved one a voice and to get justice for them. You can also help secure your family’s future, so you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to continue affording costs of living, medical expenses, and loss of earnings when you’re trying to grieve.
Our lawyers will do everything possible so you’re financially secure and can mourn for your loved one without having expenses and debt weighing on you. We understand the tragic circumstances you and your family are in. We believe the party liable for your loved one’s death should be held accountable and you and your family should be able to grieve in peace.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, a Philadelphia car accident lawyer can help. During this time, we’ll go over what happened, how you were hurt, and how you can proceed. We’ll answer any questions you have so you’ll make a fully informed decision on how you want to move forward. Our attorneys will help you understand your legal rights, so you can focus on your recovery.