Motor Vehicle Accidents
Most drivers and passengers will experience at least one motor vehicle collision during their lifetime. Sometimes, accidents are unavoidable. Other times, the actions of a driver, pedestrian, or another party are to blame. Frequently, individuals hurt in motor vehicle accidents can pursue legal claims against those responsible. The motor vehicle accident lawyers at Hall & Copetas can help you pursue those claims.
Speeding, reckless driving, texting, distractions, failing to yield, and many other legal violations or negligence by drivers can contribute to injury-causing auto accidents. Defective vehicles or vehicle components can also cause accidents. Although many innovations have improved automobile safety and helped reduce passenger injuries and fatalities, some automated features can increase driver inattention and give drivers a false sense of confidence while traveling in dangerous conditions. In rare instances, a court may find a city or municipal agency at fault for failing to keep roadways safe for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other users.
The higher cost of vehicles also means that even minor accidents can generate enormous repair costs. If you’re involved in a collision, a lawyer can help you sort out liability for your claims and recover the compensation you deserve for your damages and injuries.
Truck and Tractor-Trailer Collisions
Large truck and tractor-trailer collisions can cause devastating injuries, traffic delays, and property damage. The size and weight of the vehicles involved multiply the potential risks. Because of the increased hazards that tractor-trailer and semi-trucks pose to other drivers, the law holds truck owners and operators to high safety standards. Driver negligence or recklessness, failure to maintain a vehicle in safe condition, and failure to take appropriate precautions to ensure safety on the road can all result in catastrophe—and liability.
Litigation involving a tractor-trailer collision is complex and time-consuming, often involving numerous insurance companies in multiple locations. Retaining an experienced attorney can help you navigate the system and recover compensation for your loss.
Motorcycle accidents often occur when a vehicle inattentively switches lanes or cuts in front of a rider, forcing the motorcycle off the road, onto a curb, or into the path of another vehicle. Road conditions, obstacles, heavy traffic, construction, curvy roads, and drivers’ lack of due care for motorcycle riders contribute to the frequency of these serious accidents.
Because riders don’t have airbags, seat belts, and other automobile safety features, these accidents often cause critical, life-altering, and financially devastating injuries. Injured riders may be unable to work and may amass significant bills for medical treatment, prescriptions, vehicle repairs, and other expenses. Unfortunately, it can be challenging for a rider to get a fair settlement from an at-fault driver’s insurance company. Quality legal counsel can help you recover what you deserve.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Roadways in the United States typically prioritize motor vehicles over pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Hundreds of bicyclists and pedestrians are killed in motor vehicle collisions each year, and many more suffer serious injuries. The number of pedestrian fatalities continues to increase at staggering rates.
While cyclists and pedestrians must also follow the rules of the road, most collisions take place due to drivers’ inattention or negligence. It can be difficult for bicyclists or pedestrians to hold drivers accountable for their injuries. Having experienced legal counsel can balance the scales and help them seek justice.
Recovering Damages in a Motor Vehicle Accident
You may be able to recover multiple kinds of damages in a claim for personal injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident.
“Compensatory” damages – both economic and noneconomic – are intended to compensate you for your losses—to “make you whole.”
“Economic” damages reimburse you for quantifiable out-of-pocket expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, future medical expenses, transportation costs to and from medical treatments, costs of retrofitting or modifying your home to accommodate mobility issues, and other expenses related to the accident.
“Noneconomic” damages seek to compensate you for the other ways your life is affected. This includes pain and suffering, disability or loss of mobility/physicality, loss of companionship, disfigurement, and reduced quality of life related to the accident.
“Punitive” damages may be available where the liable party’s actions are shocking or extraordinary. This kind of award is intended to punish the bad actor and discourage them from committing similar future acts.
An experienced attorney can help you identify and quantify these damages as you pursue your injury claims.
“Full Tort” vs. “Limited Tort” Insurance Issues
Pennsylvania drivers may choose between two types of insurance coverage: “full tort” and “limited tort” insurance under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law. The type of coverage you purchase for your vehicle affects your right to damages if you are involved in a collision with a negligent or otherwise legally responsible driver.
Regardless of the policy, victims may recover compensation for their economic damages from a liable party, including unreimbursed medical expenses, loss of wages, and vehicle repair costs. Pennsylvania accident victims covered by a valid “full tort” insurance policy may also recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment, and other noneconomic losses, regardless of the extent of their injuries without other limiting factors. However, those who carry only “limited tort” insurance policies may not recover for noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering, unless they suffer a serious injury or meet one of the specific factual exceptions in the law that permits them to recover these damages.
Pennsylvania drivers must maintain a minimum level of liability insurance coverage, but some drivers fail to carry this coverage. Other drivers carry only the minimum levels of coverage, which can be inadequate to cover damage to expensive modern vehicles and the high costs of medical care. Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage protects a driver when the liable driver(s) in a collision does not have liability insurance coverage or does not have enough coverage. If you or your passengers are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can recover for your losses under your UM/UIM policy.
In Pennsylvania, carrying UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory. However, insurance companies must offer it to drivers seeking auto insurance, and drivers must sign a form if they wish to opt out. If you do not carry UM/UIM coverage and are harmed by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may have no way to recover for your expenses.
Contact an Attorney as Soon as Possible
Most legal claims must be brought within a certain amount of time, called the “statute of limitations.” In Pennsylvania, most claims for personal injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents must be brought within two years, but there are shorter deadlines in certain circumstances. You should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to determine the most appropriate course of action for you.