Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Pennsylvanians love their cars. Unfortunately, those cars are involved in approximately 350 car accidents per day. In 2017 there were a total of 128,188 crashes reported on Pennsylvania roadways which injured 80,612 people and sadly claimed the lives of another 1,137 people.
Being involved in an automobile accident can be scary and if you have never been involved in a car crash before it is difficult to know where to turn for advice and whether you should trust the information provided by the insurance company representatives that have probably contacted you within 24 hours of the crash even occurring.
The motor vehicle accident attorneys at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC know the days following a serious car accident can be overwhelming. The following is a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our car accident clients and the answers to those questions to help answer some of the same questions you may know have. If we can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation to discuss the impact of your accident and how we can be of assistance.
What Information Should I Get from the Other Driver?
You should, at a minimum, obtain the other driver’s name, address, phone number and insurance information. It is also advisable to take a picture of the other driver’s license, license plate and any damage to their vehicle following the crash.
Do I have to give the insurance company a recorded statement?
No, you never have to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. However, if your own insurance company asks for a recorded statement you do typically have an obligation to cooperate with them and provide such a statement. However, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney before doing so.
Who Will Pay For My Medical Bills?
If you are injured in a car accident your own motor vehicle insurance will ordinarily be responsible for paying your medical bills, regardless of whether you were driving your own vehicle at the time of the accident or whether you were a passenger in someone else’s car. If you do not have car insurance the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law sets forth who will be responsible for the payment of your medical bills, as explained more fully here.
Why Does My Insurance Pay When The Other Driver Was At Fault?
Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state as it pertains to auto accidents. This means that your own car insurance will pay for your treatment following a car accident regardless of who was at fault. Don’t worry though, if you were not at fault in causing the car crash your insurance premiums won’t go up even though your insurance company is paying for your treatment.
Can I still Get My Medical Bills Paid If I was at Fault?
Yes, even if you are at fault in causing a car accident, you are still entitled to medical treatment under your automobile insurance policy. While you obviously won’t be able to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver if you were at fault, you will still be entitled to have your insurance company pay for your medical treatment.
Will I have to pay Co-Pays Or Deductibles?
No, you will not have to pay any co-pays or deductibles if your motor vehicle insurance policy is a Pennsylvania policy. However, once you use up the medical benefits available under your car insurance policy you may have to pay co-pays or deductibles if your health insurance begins paying for your medical treatment, which is often the case.
Can I Choose My Own Doctor?
Yes, you have the right to choose any doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist or health care professional to treat you for your injuries following a car accident in Pennsylvania. The insurance company does not have the right to tell you which doctor or healthcare professional you can treat with.
What Happens After My Car Insurance Benefits Are Used Up?
Once you use up the available medical benefits under your automobile insurance policy your health insurance company becomes responsible for the payment of your medical expenses. There may of course be co-pays and deductibles which you must pay if your health insurance has begun paying for your treatment.
However, if you do not have health insurance, an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer may be able to arrange with your treating physician to continue treating you based on what is known as a letter of protection. Under this arrangement, your physician will continue treating you even though you have no more insurance available to pay, and will agree to be reimbursed out of any settlement or verdict you obtain from your personal injury lawsuit.
Who will pay to fix the damage to my car?
If you have elected to carry the appropriate coverage, because Pennsylvania is a no fault insurance state, your own insurance company will typically pay for the damage to your vehicle following an accident, and it will then seek to be reimbursed by the other driver’s insurance company. In some situations, where liability is clear, the negligent driver’s insurance company will agree to pay for damage to the vehicle early on rather than waiting to reimburse your insurance company.
If you do not have coverage under your own insurance policy for damage to your vehicle and the other driver’s insurance does not agree to pay, you may have to pay for the repairs yourself and then seek to recover the amount paid as part of your personal injury lawsuit.
How Much Insurance Must The Other Driver Have?
Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, the minimum amount of liability insurance that a driver must have is $15,000. Many drivers elect to carry more liability insurance, and commercial vehicles or company vehicles often have much larger policies, but the law only requires a Pennsylvania driver to have $15,000 in liability insurance.
What If the Person That Hit Me Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance you will have to seek recovery from your own motor vehicle insurance carrier, provided of course that you elected to carry uninsured motorist benefits under your policy. If you did not choose to carry uninsured motorist benefits you will likely not be able to recover for your pain and suffering and out of pocket expenses incurred following a car accident.
What if the Person That Hit Me Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance?
As indicated above, Pennsylvania law only requires individuals to carry $15,000 in liability insurance. Many cases are worth far more than this amount though. If you are struck by a driver who only has a minimum policy in Pennsylvania but your case is worth more than the minimum amount provided, you can pursue a claim for underinsured motorist benefits under your own insurance policy, assuming that you elected to carry such coverage when you purchased your insurance.
Should I Choose Limited Tort Or Full Tort?
Full tort! You should always select the full tort option when your purchase car insurance. Insurance companies and their agents usually try to convince individuals to carry limited tort insurance, telling them they will save money. While it is true that limited tort insurance is slightly less expensive than full tort insurance, the money you save when electing to carry limited tort insurance is far outweighed by the limitation on your ability to file and recover in a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is the Difference Between Limited Tort and Full Tort?
The primary difference between limited tort and full tort insurance is that, with full tort insurance, you may file a personal injury lawsuit seeking to recover for your pain and suffering regardless of how severe your injuries are. With limited tort, subject to exceptions, you may not recover for pain and suffering unless you successfully prove that you sustained a “serious injury” under the law.
Insurance companies are very reluctant to settle cases with limited tort plaintiffs in most cases. If you have limited tort insurance and are involved in a car accident, you should speak to an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer immediately so that you understand your rights and options. You may also check out this page for more information on the impact of selecting the limited tort option on your insurance policy.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Yes, you should absolutely hire an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer immediately if you have been injured as a result of a car accident. There is no out of pocket cost to you, and an experienced car accident attorney will be able to explain your rights to you, assist you in getting the medical treatment you need, place all parties on notice of your accident and make sure that the responsible insurance companies are notified, monitor the statute of limitations to make sure your lawsuit is filed in time, gather evidence and so much more.
For more information on why it is important to hire a personal injury attorney check out this short video.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
A car accident lawyer operates on a contingent fee agreement. At our firm, our fee is 33 1/3% of the net recovery we obtain for our clients. Many firms charge higher amounts though, so be certain to ask when you call to schedule an initial consultation what the fee will be because there are many excellent personal injury attorneys like the ones at our firm who only charge 33 1/3% so there is no reason to go to a firm which charges 40% or more!
If I Lose My Case Will I Have To Pay My Lawyer?
No, personal injury attorneys operate on a contingent fee basis, which means that we only get paid if we obtain money for you. In the even that we are not able to recover any money for you, we will never ask you to pay us for our time or for any costs incurred in pursuing your case.
When Will My Lawsuit Be Filed?
The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for filing personal injury lawsuits is 2 years. This means that you have 2 years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. However, we rarely wait 2 years to file your lawsuit. Instead, we monitor your case and your medical treatment.
Once you have completed your medical treatment, or it becomes apparent that your medical treatment will continue well beyond 2 years, we put together something known as a demand package, which we send to the other driver’s insurance company. In this demand package we include all relevant information and medical records and we provide a settlement demand. We will then allow for 30 days to negotiate with the other insurance company.
If we are not able to come to a settlement during that time period we will then file a lawsuit on your behalf. So, the answer to when will your lawsuit be filed varies from case to case and is largely dependent on the nature, type and length of your medical treatment.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, please give our experienced and compassionate personal injury attorneys a call. Our car accident lawyers work diligently to meet our clients’ every need and fight hard to hold those responsible for their injuries fully accountable. Don’t hesitate to contact our Philadelphia offices at (215) 875-7030 to receive the support and guidance you deserve.