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Pennsylvania Car Accidents 101

a man taking a photo of a damaged vehicle after a car accidentA car accident can change the course of a victim’s life in an instant. Often, car accident victims experience serious or catastrophic injuries that prevent them from returning to work or caring for themselves. As such, victims may face mounting costs in medical bills and lost wages.

Therefore, it’s in every driver’s best interest to know the car accident laws in their state and how to file a claim to recover damages.

Pennsylvania Car Accident Laws

Car accident laws vary from state to state. States enforce either “at-fault” or “no-fault” insurance laws which will determine from which party you recover compensation.

In at-fault insurance states, you will recover compensation from the driver responsible for the accident (and their insurance company). In no-fault insurance states, you will recover compensation from your own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident.

Pennsylvania, in particular, enforces a combination of at-fault and no-fault insurance laws. In most cases, you will work under no-fault laws to recover compensation from your own insurance company after an accident. Only in certain situations, such as when the other driver is at-fault, may you bring a claim directly against the at-fault driver.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that insurance companies’ main objective is protecting their bottom line—not paying you the compensation you deserve. An insurer will look for any excuse to deny your claim. This is why it’s in your best interest to know the proper steps to take after an accident to protect your rights.

What to Do After a Car Accident

The steps you take after a car crash may affect the compensation you recover. Taking the following measures can help reduce your chances of your insurer denying your claim:

  • Check to see if anyone requires medical attention. If so, contact emergency medical services immediately.

  • Do not apologize to the other driver. Even though it may seem natural to issue an apology after an accident, refrain from doing so. Even a simple apology can later be used against you.

  • Contact the police. The responding officer’s police report can help bolster your claim to your insurance company.

  • Seek medical attention. Get medical treatment for all injuries, even ones that seem minor. Retain all records of medical treatment so your insurer can see that the accident caused you harm.

  • Keep track of your expenses. Record everything you start paying for after your accident, including medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.

  • Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A qualified attorney who is knowledgeable in your state’s laws will be able to assist you through the process and recover the compensation you deserve.

When going through this process, it’s important to keep in mind that you only have a certain amount of time to file a claim. This time period varies from state to state; in Pennsylvania, you have two years to bring an action to recover damages for your injuries after a car accident.

Additionally, you must remember that insurance companies have their own timetables for filing a claim and recovering compensation. These timetables are typically much shorter than the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits.

Coverage Under Your Insurance Policy

Another important factor of the claim process is the coverage you have in your car insurance policy. Different components of a car insurance policy cover different things, and the coverage you purchased may affect the compensation you receive from your insurer after an accident.

Most states require drivers to carry liability coverage, at a minimum. Liability coverage includes bodily injury and property damage coverage. These cover the costs for the medical bills and physical damage you have incurred, respectively.

The other, optional components of a car insurance policy include the following:

  • Collision: This coverage will pay for physical damage caused to your vehicle.

  • Comprehensive: This coverage will pay for any external damage caused to your vehicle, such as by weather-related events or vandalism.

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This coverage will pay for damages caused to you by a driver who does not have car insurance, or does not have sufficient insurance to cover the full cost of damages.

  • Personal injury protection (PIP): This type of coverage is only available in certain states, and may help pay for your medical expenses after an accident.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

It’s in every driver’s best interest to know the common causes of car accidents so they know what to look out for on the road.

While distracted driving has always been a leading cause of car accidents, it has skyrocketed in recent years with the advent of the mobile phone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine people are killed and 1,000 are injured every day due to distracted driving accidents.

Distracted driving does not just involve smartphones, however. Other common forms of distracted driving include the following:

  • Applying makeup or performing personal grooming

  • Fiddling with the radio

  • Eating or drinking

  • Managing children or pets

In addition to distracted driving, some of the most common causes of car accidents include the following:

  • Driving while drunk

  • Driving too fast or slow for conditions

  • Failing to signal before changing lanes

  • Failing to check blind spot before changing lanes

  • Disobeying the posted speed limit, traffic lights, and traffic signs

Injured in a Car Accident? We’re Here to Help

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, our Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys are here to help. We understand how physically, emotionally, and financially draining a car accident and injury can be. That’s why we’re here to help you through the legal process as efficiently as possible and recover the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact Robert Peirce & Associates at (844) 383-0565 to speak with our team.

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