A car crash can change numerous lives in an instant. If you were the victim of one, it’s likely you’re worried about your recovery, when you’ll be able to get back to work, and how you’re going to support your family during this difficult time. To aid in your financial recovery, a West Chester car accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs can investigate your accident, determine if negligence played a role, and help you seek full and fair compensation to cover your losses.
Leading Causes of Car Accidents in West Chester
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), one out of every 44 people was involved in a reportable crash in 2018. In the reportable accidents, 78,219 people sustained injuries and 1,190 people died. In regard to driver error and negligence, the majority of accidents were caused by speeding, distracted driving, and turning improperly. In 2015, PennDOT broke crash numbers down by county. Here are the figures for Chester County:
- 1,694 hit fixed object crashes
- 719 distracted driving accidents
- 394 aggressive driver wrecks
- 374 drinking driver accidents
- 361 unrestrained driver collisions
The majority of crashes where people hit fixed objects only involved one vehicle. So in that situation, they would be dealing directly with their insurance company to sort out compensation. In the event of a crash with a distracted, aggressive, or drunk driver, however, personal injury claims can be filed against the negligent driver.
With today’s technology and how busy people’s days are, it’s easy to get distracted behind the wheel. The most distracting factors include cellphones, food, vehicle controls, and passengers. If, for example, someone is texting while driving, they are distracted visually, manually, and cognitively. Those are the three main types of distraction because they take a driver’s eyes, hands, and mind away from the road. Even just one of those can result in a serious crash.
Aggressive drivers are often in a rush. Maybe they left late for work or they’re having a difficult day and want to get where they’re going. That, however, is never an excuse for disregarding the rules of the road and creating a hostile environment for other drivers. Aggressive drivers tend to speed, tailgate, and change lanes erratically. If you find yourself near an aggressive driver, proceed with caution. If they’re experiencing road rage, it’s likely they’re also distracted.
With the legal limit for alcohol at 0.08%, it doesn’t take much to put a person over. While it’s important to always have a transportation plan in mind, too many people get behind the wheel intoxicated. When this happens, a drunk driver has very little control over their vehicle. This is because they’re unable to process what’s going on around them and their motor skills are reduced. If you’ve been in a crash because of a drunk driver, filing a claim will not only ensure you have the financial means to recover, but it will hopefully discourage them from ever driving drunk again.
While those are just some of the leading causes of wrecks in West Chester, car accidents happen for many more reasons. If you’re uncertain why your wreck happened but you believe negligence was involved, a West Chester attorney can investigate your accident and determine if there are grounds for a claim.
Determining Liability After a Wreck in Pennsylvania
In most situations, car accident claims are built on the theory of negligence. This is a legal theory containing four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Drivers owe other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and anyone using the road a duty of care to abide by traffic laws and avoid committing actions that could cause an accident. When they fail to do that, it’s considered a breach. Causation is what connects your injuries to the accident. Finally, your injuries and losses can be equated to a dollar amount.
If you’re in a situation where the other driver was not 100% at-fault for what happened, your claim is subject to the modified comparative fault rule. This means that any compensation you’re eligible for can be reduced by your percentage of the fault. So, if it’s determined you were 10% at fault for a claim valued at $100,000, you’ll only receive $90,000. If anyone is found to be 50% or more at fault, they are ineligible for any recovery amount.
It’s also important to note that Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault car insurance state. So, if you choose no-fault coverage when you purchase your car insurance policy, you’ll generally need to file a claim under your own personal injury protection to receive compensation, regardless of who was responsible for the crash. If you have questions about car insurance laws in PA, our lawyers can answer them for you.
Recovering Compensation for Injuries
In many cases, the type of crash you’re in will determine the extent of your injuries. Crashes that happen at high-speeds or head-on are more likely to result in fatal injuries. It’s imperative to seek medical treatment after a crash. Even if you feel okay, it’s possible you have injuries that haven’t presented yet. You won’t know the extent of the damage the wreck caused until you’re examined by a physician.
Some of the most common car accident injuries include broken bones, lacerations, contusions, and head injuries like concussions. More severe injuries that are possible include traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage. If the brain or spinal cord is damaged, it’s possible the person won’t be able to return to their previous way of life.
Once you’ve taken stock of your injuries and your car accident attorney has a strong case proving negligence on behalf of the opposing driver, you can begin calculating what you’re owed. Compensation for personal injury cases is separated into two categories: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages are those that can be calculated directly. They take into consideration your medical expenses related to the accident, any future care you’ll require, your lost wages, and, if applicable, the lost capacity to earn income. These are typically easier to calculate, as they’re based on real numbers.
Noneconomic damages are harder to calculate because they’re based on more subjective consequences like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. If gross negligence was involved, like with a drunk driving crash, there’s also the potential for punitive damages – which serve to punish the at-fault driver for their actions.
When our lawyers build your case, we’ll make sure the compensation you’re seeking will cover all your accident-related losses. Once your financial burdens are taken care of, you can focus on recovering physically and mentally.
Contact a Reliable Legal Team in West Chester
If you’ve been in a traffic accident that wasn’t your fault and are suffering from the consequences, you need strong legal representation to help you recover what you’ve lost. While you may think about handling the case by yourself, a West Chester car accident lawyer will have access to experts and resources that significantly improve your cases of a successful claim. If we feel the settlement offer isn’t fair, we’re more than prepared to file a lawsuit and have a judge or jury review your case to make an official verdict.
To learn more about how our attorneys approach car accident claims, contact Shrager & Sachs to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.