Pennsylvania is a state with "choice" no-fault auto insurance. Consequently, if you select no-fault coverage when purchasing an auto insurance policy, you must typically file a claim under your own personal injury protection coverage to receive compensation for medical expenses and other financial losses, regardless of who caused the accident. Your injuries must meet specific criteria established by state law before you can file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault driver or file a lawsuit against them outside of the no-fault system.
After a car accident in Pennsylvania, it is important that you speak with an experienced PA car accident attorney to discuss your claim filing options and the types of compensation that you may receive based on the seriousness of your injuries and your current car insurance coverage.
The Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
A "statute of limitations" is a law that limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Assuming that you opted out of no-fault auto insurance when you purchased coverage or that you're able to step outside of no-fault in line with Pennsylvania law, you must comply with the statute of limitations when suing the at-fault driver. If you attempt to file your lawsuit after the deadline has passed, it is almost certain that the Pennsylvania court system will dismiss your case, unless a rare exception applies to extend the deadline.
In Pennsylvania, as in the majority of states, the statute of limitations applicable to a car accident lawsuit is the same as the broader one applicable to the vast majority of personal injury cases. In particular, 42 Pennsylvania Statutes Section 5524 states that "An action to recover damages for injuries to the person or for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another." must be filed within two years.
However, when does the statute of limitations' "clock" begin to tick? The date that matters in a personal injury case is the date of the accident. However, if the car accident resulted in a fatality and a representative of the deceased person wishes to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash, the "clock" begins ticking on the date of the victim's death, which may be different from the date of the accident.
Even if you are confident that your case will be resolved through an auto insurance settlement, it makes sense from a strategic standpoint to give yourself sufficient time to file a lawsuit. If the opposing party is aware that you have the option of taking the case to court, you will have significant leverage during settlement negotiations. If the deadline for filing is approaching, you may wish to consult with a PA car accident attorney today.
Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases in Pennsylvania
If the other driver was solely responsible for your car accident, the outcome is usually predictable: The other driver (through their insurance company) will compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. But what if you were partially responsible for the collision?
When both parties are found to share fault for an accident, Pennsylvania applies a "modified comparative fault" rule. In the majority of automobile accident cases, the jury is tasked with calculating two amounts based on the evidence: the total dollar amount of the plaintiff's damages and the percentage of fault that each party bears. In accordance with the modified comparative fault rule, the plaintiff's award of damages is reduced by an amount equal to his or her percentage of fault.
Because Pennsylvania is a "modified" comparative fault state, if you are found to be 51 percent or more at fault for the collision, you will receive no compensation. This differs from the rule in states with "pure" comparative fault, where you can recover damages even if you are more at fault than the other party.
The comparative negligence rule not only binds Pennsylvania judges and juries (if your car accident case goes to court), but it also guides an auto insurance claims adjuster when evaluating your case. Ultimately, a claims adjuster makes decisions based on what is most likely to happen in court. However, this should not prevent you from pursuing a settlement or lawsuit for an auto accident. Instead, discuss your situation and the best course of action with an experienced PA car accident attorney.
Brandon J. Broderick is Here for You and Ready to Assist You With Your Pennsylvania Car Accident
Following a traumatic event such as a car accident, it is normal to feel anxious about the future. In addition to physical pain, an accident can cause emotional distress due to the financial strain caused by lost wages and medical expenses. Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law's car accident attorneys in Pennsylvania can put your mind at ease.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you can rely on us to provide you with the superior legal representation you need to win your case. This is why we are considered one of the best law firms in Pennsylvania for auto accidents.
You can rest assured that we will utilize every available resource to secure a favorable outcome for you. Our firm has extensive experience representing clients who have been injured in auto accidents, having assisted thousands of clients in your position.
To discuss your legal options, please contact us as soon as possible. You are not required to retain our services. We provide no-cost consultations.