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Car Accident Attorney

Everything You Need To Know

Car Accident

Millions of Americans are injured every year in motor vehicle accidents and thousands more are killed. Those who do survive these crashes are often left to deal with various forms of injury, including permanent disabilities such as brain damage and spinal cord injuries.

Car crashes are reportedly the third leading cause of premature death in Pennsylvania, ahead of homicides, strokes, and respiratory disease. Some form of negligence on behalf of one, or multiple drivers, is often the culprit in the majority of all car accidents. However, it is possible for more than one driver to share liability for causing an accident.

Everything You Should Know About

Pennsylvania Car Crash Injuries

Scherline & Associates Car Accident Lawyer

A car accident victim may be entitled to compensatory damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Loss of enjoyment or pleasure of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Incidental costs
  • Psychological damages
  • Loss of consortium

Free guide

If you are in a car accident, please follow the steps in this guide.

We also recommend keeping this guide in the glove box of your car just in case you are in an accident.

What To Do After A Car Accident
Scherline-&-Associates Personal Injury Law Firm

Over 40 Years Of Experience Representing Injured People

Determining Liability

Determining liability after a car accident in Pennsylvania can be a complex process, especially when multiple parties are involved. But this determination is generally based on negligence by each driver involved. This means that the driver who caused harm to another will typically be held liable for any injuries sustained, as well as the resulting damages. 

What is Negligence?

Negligent behavior is unacceptable. All drivers must drive safely. There are four elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Generally speaking, when someone acts in a careless way and causes injury to someone else, a negligence claim can be brought. Common examples of driver negligence include:

What is Duty of Care?

Every driver has a duty of care while behind the wheel.  A duty is an obligation recognized by the law, requiring a person to conform to a certain standard of conduct. Drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road or traffic laws. This means that all drivers are legally responsible for using reasonable care while operating a vehicle. They must also be mindful of pedestrians and road conditions, as well as maintain control of their vehicle.

If you were injured by another driver, you must be able to show that negligence directly caused your injuries. The legal standard for negligence will consider the following four elements:

Available Damages After a Car Collision

If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver, you have the right to obtain compensation, both noneconomic and economic, for your losses. Car accident victims may be entitled to damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Loss of enjoyment or pleasure of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Incidental costs
  • Psychological damages
  • Loss of consortium

Depending on the specific circumstances, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded when the the defendant’s conduct was outrageous or grossly negligent. A person’s conduct is outrageous when it is malicious, wanton, willful or oppressive, or shows reckless indifference to the interests of others. Gross negligence is intentional careless or reckless behavior. This may include such behaviors of drunk driving, texting, or excessive speeding.

What If I’m Involved In A Collision With a Motorist With minimal or No Insurance?

If you were involved in an automobile accident and the party at fault doesn’t have insurance or has insufficient coverage, you may be able to receive compensation from your own insurance carrier if you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Automobile insurance companies are required to offer uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to their policyholders. In many situations, the amount of coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists will be equal to the liability limits of your auto policy.

However, if you have not purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you may still be able to recover damages. An experienced Lehigh Valley auto accident attorney can help explain other options for you to recover the damages.

Call us to discuss your rights if the motorist was uninsured or was under insured.

Types of Car Accidents

There are several types of car accidents that can be caused by different circumstances. Below is a list of the most common types of car accidents:

Accidents Caused By Speeding
The faster a car is moving, the more energy and time it takes to bring it to a complete stop. Driving at high speeds increases the likelihood that a driver will lose control of their vehicle. Traveling at excessive speeds reduces driver reaction time and the ability to adapt to unexpected changes in traffic or emergencies, which can easily lead to horrific injuries. Due to the reckless nature of speeding, injuries caused by a speeding driver may also qualify for punitive damages.

Accidents Caused By Distracted Driving
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that, on average, eight people are killed every day in the United States because of a distracted driver. Despite what some drivers may believe, you cannot drive safely unless you’re completely focused on the task of driving. The most common and dangerous example of distracted driving is texting.

On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text. That’s five seconds during which your eyes are not focused on the road. If you’re driving on the freeway at the reasonable speed of 55 mph, that’s comparable to closing your eyes while driving across the entire length of a football field.

Accidents Caused By Drunk Driving
Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol is reckless and a serious criminal offense. Along with speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol is particularly destructive and very dangerous. Being convicted of a DUI charge will often carry punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded on top of the normal damages a victim would be entitled to. They are intended to punish a defendant for their reckless behavior.

Accidents Caused By Aggressive Driving
In Pennsylvania, aggressive behavior, sometimes known as road rage, has been added to the list of behaviors which are now included in the state’s reckless behavior laws. A reckless behavior is an action which lacks an intention to cause harm, but which goes beyond simple negligence.

Accidents Caused By Inexperienced Drivers
Accidents caused by inexperienced drivers tend to be catastrophic. Consider the fact that people in the 15-19 age group account for only 7% of the U.S. population, yet account for 11% of all motor vehicle injuries in the country. On average, teen related car crashes account for $13.6 billion (8.4%) of the accumulated costs of all motor vehicle injuries in the United States.

Accidents Caused By Drug Impaired Drivers
Alcohol is the most common intoxicant involved in substance impaired car crashes, but marijuana is the second most commonly found drug in blood tests conducted on drug impaired drivers. Marijuana may create delays in reaction times, affect one’s perception of time and space, and reduce muscle coordination.

Accidents Caused By Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving is a dangerous blend of driving while sleepy or fatigued. A driver who sleeps for only five to six hours doubles their risk of being involved in a serious car crash, in comparison to someone who has enjoyed seven hours of sleep or more. Crash rates increase with the less sleep a person gets. Drivers who sleep for only four to five hours have the same risk of being involved in a collision as a drunk driver.

Multi-Car Collisions
Multi-car accidents often result in multiple claims and can become contested, drawn out affairs. There’s no real standardized method for assigning liability in these types of collisions. Sometimes, one driver will be deemed 100% responsible, but multiple drivers may also share responsibility. An experienced Lehigh Valley car accident attorney can help you understand liability as it applies to multi-car collisions.

Rear-End Collisions
A rear-end collision is a collision in which one car hits the back of another. These types of crashes, even if not deadly, can still cause serious injuries and significant loss of property. Even rear-end crashes, which look seemingly minor, often result in painful neck or back injuries. Injuries as a result of a rear end collision may not manifest themselves immediately.

Head-on Collisions
Head-on collisions occur when a driver ends up on the other side of the road. For example, a driver can end up on the wrong side of the road when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is distracted. The impact of a head-on collision is often more severe than in other types of car accidents, and the accumulated costs of medical care associated with treating subsequent injuries will likely be extreme. 

Side-Impact Collisions
A car that is struck in a side-impact collision is vulnerable to causing significant injury if intrusion to the vehicle. The potential for horrific injuries, especially if there are high speeds involved, is very high and nearly guaranteed in a side-impact collision.

Side-Swipe Collisions
Side-swipe accidents almost always happen when two vehicles travelling in a parallel manner — whether in the same or opposite direction — make contact with the side of one another’s vehicle. Side-swipe accidents are more or less universally associated with either an intentional or unintentional lane change. 

Single Vehicle Collisions
While a single vehicle collision involves only one vehicle, there could be another party liable for the damages caused by the crash. The party at fault could be the driver themselves, another driver, or even the municipality.

Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents are extremely dangerous for all parties involved in the crash, but especially so for occupants of the vehicle that rolls over. A person not correctly seat-belted can find themselves tossed around in the vehicle and even a person who is properly seat-belted can find themselves trapped once the vehicle is rolled over.

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If you have been injured in a car accident, you can count on the legal team at Scherline & Associates to fight for you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.

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