Car Accidents in PA: From Reporting to Claiming Compensation
Aug. 15, 2023
The unexpected and abrupt nature of car accidents can leave many feeling disoriented, overwhelmed, and unsure of the next steps. If you find yourself involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania, being knowledgeable about the proper protocols can be immensely beneficial, both for your immediate safety and for future compensation claims.
In this blog, we'll break down the step-by-step process that should be followed post-accident, explore the nuances of insurance claims in the Keystone State, and emphasize the crucial role that legal professionals play throughout this often convoluted journey.
1. Safety First: Immediate Steps Post-Accident
Stay Calm: Your safety and that of any passengers or other involved parties should be the priority. If possible and safe, move the vehicles to a safe location, away from moving traffic.
Check for Injuries: Ensure everyone involved is okay and call for medical attention if needed. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush might mask pain, so always err on the side of caution.
Notify the Police: Regardless of the severity, always call the police. They will provide a formal accident report, which can be instrumental in future claims.
2. Document Everything
Exchange Information: This includes names, addresses, contact information, driver's license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance details from all involved drivers.
Take Photos: Capture multiple angles of the accident scene, damages, road conditions, and any injuries sustained.
Gather Witnesses: If there were any witnesses, obtain their contact information and a brief statement of what they saw.
Make Personal Notes: As soon as you can, jot down details of how the accident happened, including the time, weather conditions, and any potential contributing factors.
3. Reporting: Know the Rules
In Pennsylvania, any car accident that results in injury or death or causes vehicle damage to the point it can't be driven safely must be reported. You should:
Notify your insurance company regardless of fault.
Report the accident to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation within five days if the police did not investigate the scene.
4. Understanding Insurance Claims in PA
Pennsylvania operates under a "choice no-fault" system. This means drivers can choose between "full tort" and "limited tort" insurance coverage.
Full Tort: Allows you to sue for pain and suffering after a car accident.
Limited Tort: Often less expensive but restricts your rights to sue for pain and suffering unless the injuries meet certain thresholds.
Your claim's progression depends largely on the nature of your insurance and that of the other party involved. It's essential to be aware of your chosen insurance type and how it affects potential claims.
5. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel "fine" immediately after the accident, it's crucial to seek a medical evaluation. Some injuries may not manifest immediately and might only become evident days after the incident. Having a documented medical record following the accident can be crucial evidence if injuries manifest later on.
6. The Role of Legal Professionals
While it's possible to navigate post-accident protocols and claims independently, the landscape is rife with complexities that can profoundly affect the outcome.
Expertise: Lawyers are well-versed in Pennsylvania's car accident and insurance laws, ensuring no crucial steps are missed.
Advocacy: They negotiate on your behalf, ensuring maximum compensation.
Peace of Mind: With a legal professional handling the intricacies, you can focus on recovery and healing.
Car accidents, while unfortunate, are a frequent occurrence on Pennsylvania roads. Being prepared and understanding the subsequent steps can make a significant difference in your physical, emotional, and financial recovery. When in doubt, always consider seeking expert legal advice to ensure your rights are protected and you're adequately compensated for any damages or injuries.