Do I Have To Go To Court After a Car Accident in Philadelphia?

Do I Have To Go To Court After a Car Accident in Philadelphia?

If you’ve been in a car accident in Philadelphia, do you have to go to court to get compensation for your damages? The answer in most cases is maybe, but probably not. This remains true even if you were partially at fault for the accident.

Most car accident insurance claims and lawsuits settle before getting to the courtroom. It helps to have an experienced car accident attorney by your side and representing your interests. 

Car Accidents in Pennsylvania

All Pennsylvania car owners are required to buy a minimum amount of car insurance. Pennsylvania is a unique state when it comes to car insurance. Most states have “at-fault” insurance rules, which means you can generally sue the other driver for compensation after a crash. Other states have “no-fault” rules, where you can only sue in rare instances and must instead go through your own coverage.

Pennsylvania has what is sometimes called a “choice no-fault” system in place. Drivers in the commonwealth may choose to opt out of its no-fault rules, but doing so will raise their premiums (more on this below). The advantage is that they may sue at-fault drivers in a wider range of scenarios.

The minimum limit for medical benefits is $5,000, which covers medical bills for you and others like family members. For personality injury liability, in cases where you injure someone in a car accident, the minimum limit is $15,000. The minimum limit in Pennsylvania to carry for property damage is $5,000. 

In Pennsylvania in 2021, the average cost of a crash with property damage only was $12,904. The average cost for an accident with possible injuries was $135,569. So it’s not unusual for the cost of your accidents to be more than your policy coverage. 

Your Policy Affects Whether You Can Sue 

When choosing your insurance policy in Pennsylvania, you can opt for a full tort or limited tort opinion. The full tort option is unrestricted, meaning you can file a lawsuit against an at-fault party for additional compensation. The full tort policy will allow you to sue for all damages, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering. 

The limited tort option is less costly and, therefore, more restrictive. You can only file a suit if the accident caused you to suffer severe impairment of function, a permanent disability, disfigurement, or, tragically, death. You would not be able to sue for certain kinds of non-economic damages, like emotional distress or chronic pain.

Negotiating a Settlement 

Let’s say you’re in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Your insurance company pays out what you are owed under the policy, but you still have more damages to cover. Depending on the insurance coverage you’ve selected, you can potentially file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company and hope to achieve a settlement with them. If that’s not successful, you can then file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Again, whether you’ve chosen full tort or limited tort will determine your options at each stage.

Once a lawsuit is filed in Philadelphia, it can be settled in a matter of days, or it could drag on for months. Oftentimes, lawsuits are settled during the discovery phase, which takes place before a trial. During discovery, each side gathers information and evidence from the other, which can change their outlook on the potential outcome of the case. 

A major factor that can affect the speed of settlement is the complexity of a case. A case with many parties that are potentially at fault and several victims that are not related to each other can also affect the timing of a settlement. 

Other factors that could slow a settlement are: 

  • An insurance company that makes negotiating difficult by not cooperating or communicating with your attorney
  • If a person suffers traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, it can take time to fully assess the impact of their injuries.

It’s not a hard and fast rule, but most car accident cases settle within 12 to 18 months. 

Call a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney With Questions 

After a car accident, it’s important to focus on recovering from any injuries you may have suffered and repairing any property damage that may have occurred. Dealing with insurance companies and potential litigation can make your head spin. It’s smart to consult with an experienced attorney who can assess your case and explain your legal options.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Philadelphia Today To Get Help With Your Case

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.