What Should I Do After a Serious Accident in Pennsylvania?
Accident in Pennsylvania comes out of nowhere. One moment, you are driving, and the next, your car is smashed, and you are in pain. In another situation, you may be walking through the supermarket and, in a flash, find yourself fighting for balance and then on the ground.
No one plans on getting injured in a serious accident, and the shock, dismay, and pain may leave you reeling and unsure of what to do. In the paragraphs below, we discuss what to do after a serious accident in Pennsylvania from a practical and legal point of view. Because they are the most common accidents, we discuss auto collisions, slip and falls, and dog bites. However, many general principles discussed below apply to any kind of accident.
What To Do After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
After a collision, you’ll naturally want to evaluate if you are injured, check the status of any other vehicle occupants, and determine if you are in continued danger. If other vehicles are involved, you’ll want, if able, to check on the other people involved.
However, never discuss the accident with other drivers. Car accident claims are settled on a comparative negligence basis in Pennsylvania. Because of this, even a small admission of responsibility can reduce your eventual compensation. An innocent statement can also be taken to be an admission. The opposing insurance company knows this, and anything you say could become evidence in favor of the other driver.
After the accident in Pennsylvania, follow these key steps to safeguard your well-being and protect your legal rights:
- Check yourself and others for injury
- Contact emergency services
- Gather evidence
- Contact a personal injury attorney
- File a timely insurance claim
Check for Injuries
It’s important to immediately evaluate your injury status and that of others involved. If you have a serious injury, you’ll need to prioritize seeking medical attention. Nothing is more important than your health and the health of any passengers.
Contact Emergency Services
The faster you contact 911, the sooner you can get help. In addition, the emergency response results in the start of the official record of the event. The police will gather information at the scene for their report, including other motorists' identities and insurance information. They may also locate witnesses and include their accounts and contact information also.
What If Your Injuries Appear Minor?
Injuries may initially seem minor, only to reveal themselves later as debilitating, chronic, and costly. For example, a sprained ankle may seem minor only to continue swelling in the following days and cause you to limp in persistent pain.
Therefore, always receive an immediate medical evaluation. In addition to determining what treatment you need, the initial evaluation creates documentation of your injury, proving when and how it occurred. If you wait and seek treatment later, the opposing insurer could question whether the injury resulted from the event.
Gather Potential Evidence
This step depends on the circumstances. For a non-injury accident in Pennsylvania, you should gather substantial evidence at the scene, such as by taking cell phone photos and videos of the vehicles and location. Also, be sure to obtain the contact information of any witnesses. Because the emergency services may not investigate a non-injury accident in detail, obtaining your own evidence can help your case.
However, if you have a serious injury, you are unlikely to be walking around taking pictures and statements. You’ll have to leave this to the police. However, they will create a report that can be very helpful in establishing your claim.
Further, once a lawsuit is filed, your personal injury attorney can obtain additional evidence through the discovery process.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate your case as soon as you can. A lawyer can tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, outline the process, and help you gather evidence. If the insurers refuse to pay you full compensation, your attorney will file a lawsuit.
File a Timely Insurance Claim
You’ll need to file a claim with your insurer. After you contact your insurer, the company will open a claim with the opposing insurance company.
If the opposing insurance company contacts you, refer them to your lawyer.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall Injury in Pennsylvania
Slip and fall personal injury claims fall under premises liability law. According to this legal framework, the property owner has a legal responsibility to protect anyone on the property from hazards. When a person falls because of an unmitigated hazard, the property owner has civil liability.
For instance, imagine a customer at a retail store who falls on a piece of equipment left in the aisle. Store management is responsible for ensuring that areas traversed by customers remain free of trip hazards. Since it left the equipment where a customer could trip, the store failed to take proper measures to protect those on its property.
However, tripping on another person’s or business’s property does not automatically establish a claim. The fall must be attributable to the property owner’s failure to take reasonable precautions. In another instance, you may have been walking through a retail store aisle and tripped over your own shoelace. A claim is negated because the fall is attributable to your mistake and not the property owner's failure to perform a duty of care.
After a slip and fall, follow these essential steps:
- Evaluate any signs of injury
- Seek medical help
- File a report
- Gather any evidence possible
Evaluate Any Signs of Injury
After a fall, you may know instantly that you have hurt yourself, such as by shattering a kneecap. Evaluate any signs of injury, take whatever actions you need to protect your well-being, and apply first aid.
Seek Medical Help
After falling and shattering a kneecap, you won’t think twice about summoning medical assistance. This type of injury's extreme pain and debilitation makes this step automatic for most people.
On the other hand, other injuries may allow you to walk away. Don’t. You need to establish that you sustained this injury at the location and how. If you leave without reporting it and seeking medical help, an insurance company may deny its liability for lack of evidence.
Always seek medical assistance even if the injury seems minor. Remember that even a small medical issue can lead to significant medical bills and lost time at work. Damages can quickly escalate into five figures and above. In addition, some slip and fall cases require extensive rehabilitation, making them worth much more.
File a Report
If you contact an ambulance, the process of building an official record begins. However, if you decide you don’t need emergency services, never leave without filing a report with the building’s management. For example, if you twist your ankle in the parking lot of a store, you need to file a report with the location’s management immediately.
Gather Any Evidence Possible
In court, the plaintiff must prove that the accident in Pennsylvania occurred on the defendant's premises and that the plaintiff was at fault. Any evidence you gather showing these two elements helps make your case undeniable. For example, if you twisted your ankle falling on a wet floor, take photos and videos showing the location and the floor’s condition.
What To Do After a Dog Bite
Dog bite injuries range from minor to major injuries to fatal. Those who suffer because another person’s dog attacked them deserve maximum compensation.
Pennsylvania law presumes pet owners liable when their dogs bite. It provides no defense to claim the dog was leased or well-trained. All dogs have the potential to bite, and dog owners must take all actions necessary to protect others.
No one-bite defense can be asserted in Pennsylvania dog bite cases. In some states, a dog must have a previous history of aggressiveness for a personal injury claim to apply. But in Pennsylvania, the owner bears liability even if a dog has been nothing but sweet to everyone for its whole life.
After a dog bite, you should seek immediate medical attention. Also, Pennsylvania law requires you to report any dog bites. Therefore, contact authorities as soon as possible.
Seeking immediate treatment is important in any personal injury case to establish the location and circumstances of the incident. In dog bite cases, it is even more important because of the possibility of infection and disease.
You’ll want to identify the dog and its owner. If attacked by a loose, unknown dog, do your best to provide animal control with a description of the animal and where it was last seen.
Though Pennsylvania law presumes the owner’s liability, some exceptions exist. For instance, an owner could claim that you antagonized the animal.
Winning Personal Injury Cases
By following the steps above, you protect your safety and well-being while protecting your legal rights. Pennsylvania personal injury law requires plaintiffs to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant caused the injury through a breach of a duty of care.
Though the burden of proof lies with the defendant, in most situations, substantial evidence exists to win the case. Because of this, most cases settle out of court. The defense realizes a trial will only cost them more money, motivating them to settle before the trial date.
Understanding beforehand what to do after a serious accident in Pennsylvania allows victims to react calmly and productively in an emergency. By cleaving to a logical process, you can remember to do everything to preserve your legal rights despite being taken by surprise.
After a serious accident, you need a law firm with a reputation for litigation success. Contact Mattiacci Law for a free consultation.
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