Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
Mattiacci Law is an aggressive personal injury law firm helping clients in Philadelphia, across Pennsylvania and throughout New Jersey. We work tirelessly to obtain the highest compensation possible for our clients. Contact our law firm today if you need help. Speak to one of our award-winning trial lawyers to discuss how we can fight for you.
Car accidents are common and deadly
On an average day in Pennsylvania, there are 351 car accidents that are significant enough to report to the police — which is the equivalent of approximately 15 crashes per hour. Every day in Pennsylvania, 3 people are killed in car crashes, and 221 people are injured.
Philadelphia is the most populated county in Pennsylvania — and it also has one of the highest levels of traffic crashes. It is second only to Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) for reported traffic crashes, with 8.7% of all car accidents happening in Philadelphia in 2017. However, the most traffic-related fatalities that year occurred in Philadelphia (8.3%). Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers have years of experience handling serious car accident cases in Philadelphia.
The numbers are similar in New Jersey. In 2017, there were 270,231 car accidents in the state. This includes 11,579 accidents in Burlington County, 14,886 in Camden County, 10,329 in Mercer County, and 2,650 in Cape May County.
These statistics demonstrate that car accidents are exceptionally common — and can have devastating results. For those who have been injured in a car accident, there is help. Victims of car accidents in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey may be eligible for compensation for their losses, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you can trust the Philadelphia car accident lawyers of Mattiacci Law to fight for you.
Philadelphia has the highest rate of car accidents in Pennsylvania. If you or a family member has been injured in a traffic accident, you may feel overwhelmed. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers of Mattiacci Law have nearly two decades of experience in handling serious car accident cases in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys stand ready to help you through the challenges and difficulties faced by victims of car crashes.
If you have been in an accident, contact our team of caring Philadelphia car accident lawyers as soon as possible. The initial consultation is completely free. Our friendly and compassionate staff are available to answer the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call our Philadelphia office at 215-914-6919 or call toll free at 866-617-0050.
We are happy to make house calls or come to you. Our firm will work with you to make sure that meeting with an attorney is as easy as possible.
Here, we highlight our firm’s extensive experience handling car accident cases. We also discuss the many questions many people have after they are injured in a car accident, in addition to other topics related to Philadelphia car accidents. We will explain why hiring a Philadelphia car accident attorney can be essential to protecting your rights.
There are questions that we are often asked by potential clients about car accident cases. Here, we discuss the answers to some of those questions, in addition to other information about car accidents in Pennsylvania. These topics include:
- Who can I sue for a car accident?
- What is negligence?
- How can we prove a driver was negligent?
- What if more than one driver is at fault?
- How much time do I have to bring a lawsuit in Philadelphia?
- Who will pay my medical bills?
- What kind of damages can I recover in an accident?
- How much is my car accident case worth?
- What is limited tort insurance?
- What is uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance?
- Pennsylvania Car Accident statistics
- Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Pennsylvania
- Types of Car Accidents
- Determining Fault
- Investigation Process
- Putting a Value on a Car Accident Case
- How Insurance Impacts Recovery
How Our Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You
Our lawyers and staff have years of experience in handling serious car accident cases. Our lawyers aggressively fight to get money for you.
From the beginning of your case, our dedicated team will perform an investigation. We will identify everyone who may have caused or contributed to the accident. Our firm will pursue those at fault. Our car accident attorneys will also push to find all the available insurance. A thorough investigation helps give us the best opportunity to maximize your recovery.
When you hire the car accident lawyers at Mattiacci Law, we also assist with the often-frustrating process of insurance claims. That means our firm will help prepare and file the paperwork to open a medical claim with the auto insurance company. This is necessary to start getting your medical bills paid. We can also assist in getting property damage claims processed and paid so your car can be repaired.
Philadelphia Car Accident Settlements
Our firm has a proven track record of results. Our personal injury lawyers have handled vehicle accidents that have resulted in recoveries such as:
- $21+ million - passengers of bus injured in turnpike accident
- $10+ million - driver injured by tractor trailer
- $1.25 million – car struck by truck
- $900,000 – truck driver injured in a car accident
- $825,000 – car struck by truck
- $750,000 - trucking accident claim
- $395,000 – trucking accident on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA
- $285,000 – sideswipe collision
- $250,000 – Side impact car accident
- $240,000 –pedestrian hit by passing pickup
- $240,000 - pedestrian struck by work truck
- $200,000 – airport shuttle collision
When you hire our law firm, we deal with the other driver’s insurance company for you. We will put them on notice of the claim, negotiate with them to recover a settlement, and file suit when necessary. We battle to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
Our clients come to us when they are hurt, frustrated, and worried. Our firm works to make your life easier after an accident. You hire a lawyer to fight for you. You hire an attorney to solve problems. When you hire the Philadelphia accident lawyers at Mattiacci Law, we will be your advocates.
Who can I sue for a car accident?
People often ask who they can sue for an accident. The simple answer is that we try to sue anyone who was at fault for the collision. This can include anyone who caused or contributed to the accident.
If another driver or person causes or contributes to a car accident, we will evaluate that person’s actions to see if he or she was negligent. A person must be negligent in order to bring a lawsuit against that person. If the person is negligent, and that negligence causes your injuries and damages, we will bring a claim or lawsuit against that person to seek money damages.
It is very important to get an attorney involved in your case as soon as possible. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Mattiacci Law are ready to investigate your case. Contact us today for a free consultation. Call our Philadelphia office now at 215-914-6919 or toll free at 866-617-0050.
What is negligence?
A person is negligent when he or she does something a reasonably careful person would not do under the circumstances. A person also can be negligent by failing to act. A person who fails to do something a reasonably careful person would do under the circumstances is negligent.
When another driver is negligent and causes your injuries and damages, our car accident lawyers will pursue that driver by bringing a lawsuit for money damages.
To determine whether a person was reasonably careful we compare their actions to certain safety rules. For car accidents we look to what are known as the “rules of the road.” These rules are often set down in written laws, called statutes. In Pennsylvania there is an entire section of laws called the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code (Title 75). There are many different statutes under this code that make up the rules that drivers must follow when they drive within Pennsylvania.
If a person violates one of these rules of the road, that is good evidence that the person was negligent. Drivers can violate these safety rules in many ways. Some common examples are:
- Speeding or traveling too fast for road conditions;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Falling asleep behind the wheel;
- Texting while driving;
- Rear-ending another vehicle;
- Failing to stop at stop signs or traffic signals;
- Failing to yield the right of way.
Our car accident lawyers have nearly two decades of experience in proving negligence claims against careless drivers. We know the Motor Vehicle Code. Put our experience to work for you. Contact our team of accident lawyers today for a consultation.
How can we prove a driver was negligent?
The car accident attorneys at our firm thoroughly investigate the facts of each car accident case. We do this so we can identify all potential defendants. We then look at the facts to prove that the other driver acted in an unsafe manner.
Our team of Philadelphia car accident lawyers will evaluate whether the other driver acted in a reasonably safe way. Our team will examine whether the other driver broke any rules of the road. If the other driver is negligent and caused injuries and damages, then we will aggressively pursue that driver for money damages.
Some of the types of evidence that we use to prove another driver is at fault include reviewing:
- The police report;
- Photos of the vehicles involved in the crash;
- Photos of the accident scene;
- Witness statements;
- Event data recorder information (vehicle black box);
- Camera footage from traffic and surveillance cameras;
- Dash cam footage;
- Traffic citations and court records;
- Client information.
Our clients are our key partners in proving each case. When we open a case, our first information often comes directly from our clients. They relay to us how the accident happened, the details of the crash, and provide as much information as they can about the incident. From there we go on to search for and preserve any other evidence that will help prove the other driver was at fault.
It is very important for our team of Philadelphia car accident attorneys to get involved in a case as soon as possible. This allows us to investigate the facts of an accident immediately. We can help identify and question witnesses. We often obtain forensic data from vehicles involved in the crash. We can take photos of the damaged cars. We can also preserve evidence that helps show how the accident occurred. This can include footage from nearby traffic cameras or surveillance cameras. Dash cams are also becoming more common.
However, getting this evidence can be time sensitive. Often, cars that are totaled in a collision are salvaged. Witnesses may move away or start to forget details of an accident. Striking while the iron is hot after an accident is the best way to preserve evidence in order to help win the case against the responsible party.
Investigating your case is a priority. Let our team of dedicated Philadelphia car accident attorneys get to work on your case now. Contact our firm today for a free consultation so we can discuss the details of your accident and what we can do to help.
What if more than one driver is at fault?
It is not unusual for there to be more than one driver at fault for a crash. There are times when two or more vehicles may contribute to an accident. This can be because the drivers drove too fast for road conditions, disregarded traffic signals, failed to stop before striking another car, or any other safety rule violation.
Our injury firm works to identify all the drivers or people who may have caused and contributed to an accident. If there are more than one, we include all those defendants in the lawsuit. A settlement may be reached with one or all the defendants. If the case proceeds to trial, then we try to apportion fault between the defendants. A jury will decide what percentage of fault may be the responsibility of each unsafe driver.
The car accident law firm of Mattiacci Law will try to recover damages from everyone who was at fault for a car accident. If there is more than one responsible driver, we will pursue them all to maximize our clients’ recoveries and to get them justice.
How much time do I have to bring a lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
There are strict time limits to file a lawsuit in an accident case in Pennsylvania. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Pennsylvania for an adult is two (2) years. This means that a lawsuit for damages caused by the accident must be commenced within two (2) years of the date of the accident. A lawsuit filed after that deadline may be dismissed. This deadline is codified at 42 Pa. C.S. § 5524.
If a child is injured in a car accident there may be additional time in which to file a lawsuit. Pennsylvania law provides that an unemancipated minor can file an action for personal injuries within two (2) years after reaching majority age. Currently, an unemancipated minor reaches majority age at 18 years.
Under 42 Pa. C.S. § 5533, a minor can file a lawsuit within two (2) years of his or her 18th birthday. If a child is injured in an accident, and if that child is an unemancipated minor, he or she can still file suit more than two years after an accident. But suit must be filed before his or her 20th birthday. To be safe, consult an attorney as quickly as possible after an accident to confirm these deadlines.
In certain types of cases there are more specific claims deadlines that must be followed. For example, if you have been injured by a vehicle owned by a government entity, like the City of Philadelphia, then a written notice of claim must be provided to the City within six (6) months. This notice requirement is different than the statute of limitations. It is a separate deadline that is required by Pennsylvania law that is a prerequisite to filing a formal lawsuit against the government or one of its departments.
The City of Philadelphia, along with other governmental agencies, and even some state-funded entities like SEPTA, enjoy these additional protections from lawsuits. This is because of the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act. This law, codified as 42 Pa. C.S. § 5522, is what requires written notice to the appropriate government or agency that caused the car accident. Again, that written notice must be sent within six (6) months from the date of the accident. It also must contain certain information.
If the necessary written notice to a government entity is not provided within six (6) months, the government can later attempt to dismiss any lawsuit filed with a court.
These deadlines are why it is incredibly important to contact an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer immediately after an accident. Our firm routinely evaluates whether notices must be sent to any government unit for an accident. The legal team at Mattiacci Law will investigate the case and determine whether any potential notices need to be sent immediately. We can protect your rights to bring a suit so that you can pursue compensation.
Contact our Philadelphia accident lawyers today for a consultation. The initial consultation is completely free. We also offer a contingent fee. That means we only get paid if we recover money in the case.
Who will pay my medical bills?
One of the most common concerns for people injured in car accidents is how their medical bills will be paid. Our attorneys are here to help guide our clients through the medical claims process.
In Pennsylvania, a person’s medical bills related to a car accident first must be paid through an applicable car insurance policy. Injured victims can then use health insurance or public assistance (if they qualify) for medical bills after the auto insurance medical coverage is exhausted.
The medical benefits available through auto policies in Pennsylvania are often referred to as First Party Benefits or as Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Each policy of auto insurance issued in Pennsylvania is required to provide PIP benefits. Pennsylvania requires that private passenger cars carry a minimum of $5,000 in PIP benefits. This is required by 75 Pa. C.S. § 1711.
This means that if you own a car in Pennsylvania and have auto insurance, your own auto insurance will have at least $5,000 in medical coverage to pay toward the bills caused by the accident. People have the option of having significantly more than $5,000 in PIP benefits, which can be very helpful.
In order to start having PIP coverage pay your medical bills for an accident you first must submit a claim application through the car insurance company. Our team of Philadelphia accident lawyers helps our clients with this application. The form, which is common called an “Application for First Party Benefits,” asks for information regarding the person who is injured, the details of the accident, a description of any injuries sustained, along with information regarding medical treatment received to date. This insurance may also cover lost wages, and the application commonly asks for information about any lost income because of the accident.
It is best to discuss the PIP application with an experienced injury attorney prior to submitting it. That way the attorney can evaluate the case and assist with providing information to the insurance company.
Also, you may still be eligible for PIP even if you do not own your own vehicle.
Under Pennsylvania law, there is a certain order in which you can obtain PIP benefits after an accident:
- If you are an in accident caused by another driver, you must apply for PIP benefits on a policy on which you are listed as a named insured, such as your own vehicle;
- If you are not a named insured on a policy, you can then apply for PIP benefits on any policy which provides coverage to you as an insured, which may include the policy of a relative with whom you live;
- If you are a passenger and are not insured through another policy, you can then apply for coverage through the policy for the vehicle in which you were a passenger at the time of the accident;
- If there is no insurance on the vehicle in which you were a passenger, you may be able to get medical payments through one of the other vehicles involved in the crash.
The order of PIP coverage is generally controlled by a specific Pennsylvania statute, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1713.
Pennsylvania also has a program called the Pennsylvania Financial Responsibility Assigned Claims Plan (PFRACP). The Assigned Claims Plan is a fund set up by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that provides limited first party medical coverage to people injured in car accidents. The fund provides up to $5,000 in benefits. It is limited to Pennsylvania citizens who are not eligible for any other auto insurance coverage. Additional information may be found at the plan’s website, and there are specific requirements for eligibility.
Unfortunately, the $5,000 in PIP benefits that most people have available to them is soon exhausted. Paying for an emergency room, diagnostic tests, doctor visits, and therapy can quickly run through the available coverage. In those situations, injured victims can then attempt to get their medical bills paid through any personal health insurance coverage that they have or through Medicare, Medicaid, or other coverage.
Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers will attempt to recover any unpaid bills and future medical bills as part of the lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Contact our firm today if you need help or have questions about what to do after a car accident.
What kind of damages can I recover for my accident case?
There are many types of damages that we try to recover for our clients. While not every case is the same and not all damages may be applicable to every case, there are some that are common. These common damages usually fall under two categories.
The two general categories of damages are economic damages and non-economic damages. These are also sometimes referred to as monetary and non-monetary.
Economic damages are the types of money damages that can be specifically calculated. These include:
- Lost wages: people who are hurt often cannot work. If a person misses time from work and is not paid, that person has lost wages. These types of damages can often be calculated by looking at how much a person would normally make within the time they were out of work due to an accident. A claim can also be made for the money someone will be unable to earn in the future. Our firm will look at how much a client may lose over his or her lifetime if the client is permanently injured and unable to work. We then add that to the amount we are seeking to recover.
- Medical bills: medical bills are inevitable when someone gets hurt in an accident. Auto insurance and health insurance may cover a portion of the bills, but people often are left with co-pays, unpaid bills, and other out-of-pocket expenses. The amount of unpaid bills, expenses, and future medical bills that an injured client may require all factor into the potential value of a case and what damages may be claimed.
- Insurance liens: sometimes clients have insurance policies that will help pay for their lost wages and medical bills. This can include worker’s compensation insurance (if the client was injured while working) or health insurance. Very often, these insurance companies want to be reimbursed for the benefits they paid because of an accident. If so, we must evaluate the lien to ensure it is related and may use that lien amount to increase the recovery we are seeking for our clients.
- Out-of-pocket expenses: people who are injured often pay money from their own pocket because of an accident. This can be anything from hiring additional help for home maintenance or childcare, buying medical supplies or devices that are not covered by insurance, a property damage deductible, rental car expenses, co-pays, or the use of vacation or sick time from work. We take all of this into account to see what should be claimed in your suit.
Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys evaluate a client’s potential economic damages so we can make a claim for those money losses.
In addition to economic damages, we also seek other types of damages known as non-economic damages. These damages depend on several different factors. These include:
- Physical pain and suffering: money may be demanded for the physical pain and suffering caused by injuries suffered in an accident. This can include pain from an injury such as a sprain or strain to an even more serious injury, such as a fracture, spinal injury, or head injury. The severity of the injury, the physical limitations caused by the injuries, whether injections or surgery were necessary, and whether the injury is permanent are factors that go into how much a potential claim could be worth in terms of physical pain and suffering.
- Mental pain and suffering: people do not just get physically hurt in an accident. Accident victims also suffer from mental pain and suffering. This can include stress, anxiety, fear, and depression. Many people who are dealing with physical injuries also have mental pain and suffering. Treating with a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist can be helpful in coping with the mental pain and suffering caused by an accident. These mental injuries can also factor into the potential value of a case.
- Scarring and disfigurement: a separate element of damages that we seek for clients is scarring and disfigurement caused by an accident. This not only includes scarring that occurred during an accident (for example, road rash from a motorcycle accident or a scar from a laceration or cut) but also scarring that may occur after a client has a surgery that is related to the accident. Scarring can make people feel self-conscious, affect their looks and confidence, and require additional treatment, such as plastic surgery. This can factor into the value of the case.
- Loss of consortium: when a person is injured, those injuries can also affect the injured person’s spouse. Spouses often must carry more responsibility after their loved one has been injured. This can include an increased role in handling childcare, chores, shopping, bills, and other responsibilities. It can also interfere with the couple’s social and intimate relationship. In some cases a spouse may have little choice but to become a full-time caregiver. The negative impact that an accident has on a married couple means that the uninjured spouse can bring a claim for loss of consortium. This is a separate element of damages that can compensate the spouse for the interruption in their marriage and relationship.
Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys are ready to help you. We will investigate your case to find out what damages may be claimed. Our team will obtain medical records, speak with physicians, and may hire medical and other experts to fully develop and present the damages you have suffered as a result of an accident.
The car accident lawyers at Mattiacci Law strive to maximize our clients' recoveries so they can get the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Call us now at 215-914-6919 or call toll free at 866-617-0050.
How much is my car accident case worth?
There are many factors that go into how much a potential car accident case may be worth. Every case is different. Every case must be evaluated on its own facts and evidence. As a general guideline, the more serious the injuries and damages that can be proven, the more the case may be worth.
Our experienced car accident attorneys perform an in-depth analysis of each case to fully identify and develop our clients’ damages. The value of each case depends on many factors. Our experienced team can advise you of the potential value of a case by weighing these factors.
One of the first factors we look to is the strength of the liability case to prove the other driver is at fault. If there is difficulty proving the other driver is at fault for the accident then the case will have only limited value, if any value at all. Therefore, it is vitally important to get a Philadelphia car accident lawyer involved in your case as soon as possible. Performing a prompt investigation into an accident can help prove the case against the other driver, and in turn drive the value of the case.
Another factor that goes into how much a case is worth is whether the accident caused the claimed injuries and damages. People can be compensated for injuries if they were caused by an accident. This can also include injuries that pre-existed the accident but became worse after a crash. Being able to prove that the injuries and damages were caused by the accident is very important in evaluating how much a case is worth.
Our car accident attorneys focus on proving that our clients’ injuries were caused by the crash. This includes reviewing medical records, hiring physicians or medical experts, and getting the necessary evidence to prove what injuries were caused by the accident. Sometimes this is extremely clear. At other times, insurance companies will try to muddy the water by claiming that a person’s injuries pre-existed an accident to limit the case value (such as a when a person may have a history of back pain prior to an accident). A thorough investigation will help to fight these defenses.
The nature and severity of the injuries and damages are a large part of how much a case is worth. A case in which a person heals within a few weeks will generally not have the same monetary value as a case in which someone was permanently injured. A general guideline is that the more serious or permanent an injury is, the more we demand to compensate our clients for that injury.
The nature of medical treatment is also a factor. If more invasive treatment such as injections or surgery is required, that can increase the potential value of a claim. Even if a person does not have surgery but requires extensive and ongoing treatment, such as therapy or the use of an assistive device like a brace or walker, this can increase the potential value of the case.
Economic damages such as the amount of medical bills, the amount of lost wages, and any expenses incurred by the client help increase the potential value of a case. Additional damages, such as scarring or disfigurement and a spouse’s a loss of consortium can also increase the potential value of a claim.
However, the value of a case may ultimately depend on how much insurance is available for pay for an injured person’s damages. Pennsylvania law only requires that auto policies provide a minimum of $15,000 in liability coverage per person or a total of $30,000 per accident. This means that any policy issued under Pennsylvania law must have at last $15,000 available to pay for a person’s injuries and damages caused by an accident. If there is more than one injured person then there should be a minimum of $30,000 that would need to be split between the people injured by the at-fault driver.
The hope is that there is more than enough insurance to fully compensate a person for his or her injuries. Insurance policies in Pennsylvania can provide significantly more than $15,000, but that depends on the amount of coverage chosen by that at-fault driver. Our law firm will identify and pursue any potential insurance coverage to make sure the maximum amount of coverage will be available.
It is important to hire a skilled Philadelphia car accident lawyer in order to maximize the potential value of your case. Contact our firm today for a free consultation so we can discuss the details of your case. Put our experience to work for you. Call us at 215-914-6919 or call toll free at 866-617-0050.
What is limited tort car insurance?
Car owners in Pennsylvania are given the option of choosing limited tort car insurance or full tort car insurance. Many people are never told how that choice will affect their ability to sue someone if they are injured in an accident. As a general recommendation, our firm advises people to elected full tort if at all possible.
Limited tort insurance is generally cheaper than full tort insurance coverage. In exchange for a reduced insurance premium, you agree to put limitations on your ability to sue someone for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. A person who chooses limited tort insurance must suffer a “serious injury” before they can recover non-monetary damages like pain and suffering as a result of a car accident.
A person who chooses limited tort insurance can still recover monetary damages, regardless of whether they are injured. A person who has elected limited tort can always try to recover lost wages, property damages, medical bills, or other out-of-pocket expenses.
A driver who has elected full tort auto insurance will generally pay more for their auto insurance. However, there is no limitation on that person’s rights to sue for pain and suffering if he or she is injured in an accident. In other words, a driver with full tort is entitled to seek damages for pain and suffering even for an injury that is relatively minor or that did not require extensive treatment.
Proving that someone who elected limited tort has suffered a “serious injury” is fact specific. An injury does not necessarily have to be permanent to be serious. Generally, to overcome this limitation we first show that an injury has impaired a body function. Second, we look to whether that limitation is “serious.”
There are several factors the Court looks to for determining whether the impairment of a body function was serious. These factors include the extent of the impairment, the particular body function impaired, the length of time the impairment lasted, the treatment required to correct the impairment, and any other relevant factors. See Pa. SSJI (Civ) 7.190.
If we can prove an injury is serious using these different factors, we can still make a claim for pain and suffering. Our experienced team of Philadelphia car accident attorneys can help make this evaluation and provide you with feedback as to whether the limited tort hurdle can be overcome.
Additionally, there are several exceptions under the law when limited tort will not limit a person’s recovery in a case. Some of these exceptions include:
- When the at-fault driver is operating a vehicle that is registered in another state (such as a car registered in New Jersey);
- When the at-fault driver is found guilty of or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- When the injured person is a passenger in a vehicle other than a private passenger vehicle (such as a taxi or limo);
- When the at-fault driver fails to maintain auto insurance;
- When the at-fault driver intends to injure someone;
There may be other exceptions to the limited tort threshold. Contact our team of Philadelphia car accident lawyers today for a free consultation about your car accident. Call us today at 215-914-6919 or call toll free at 866-617-0050.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)?
Drivers in Pennsylvania have the option of electing uninsured and underinsured motor vehicle insurance. This is often abbreviated as UM/UIM. This is additional coverage available through your own auto insurance policy that can help compensate you for your injuries after an accident. Pennsylvania law requires that auto insurance companies offer UM/UIM coverage. This is required by 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1731. However, drivers can also reject UM/UIM benefits by signing waivers. Often, drivers do not know how important having UM/UIM coverage is to protecting themselves and their families.
Uninsured (UM) coverage provides money through your own auto insurance to pay if another driver hits you and that driver has no insurance. This can come into play when the other driver has failed to pay his or her insurance premiums on time or if the insurance on the other vehicle has lapsed or has been canceled. In such a situation, there is no insurance available from the other driver. That driver is therefore uninsured. In this situation, a person with uninsured (UM) coverage can seek money through his own policy to pay him for his damages.
Underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver has insurance but does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. For example, say a careless driver hits someone and causes serious injuries. The careless driver only has the minimum liability coverage of $15,000. Say that amount is not enough to fully compensate the injured person. In this situation, the injured person can get additional money through his own auto insurance policy if he has UIM coverage. UIM exists to provide you with more money when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your damages.
Pennsylvania also provides something called stacking. Stacking means that you have the option to stack your UM/UIM benefits if you have more than one vehicle on your policy. For example, if you own and insure two cars in Pennsylvania and you have UIM benefits. You also have elected “stacked coverage.” This means you can combine the amount of UIM coverage that you have by the number of insured vehicles on the policy. So, if you have $25,000 in UIM benefits, the stacked coverage available to you if you are in an accident can be $50,000. This is permitted under 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1738.
However, people often sign waivers rejecting UM/UIM benefits and stacked benefits without fulling understanding the coverage. Many clients have come to us after an accident and were very upset with their insurance agents and insurance companies for not fully explaining the importance and benefits of UM/UIM coverage and stacked benefits.
As a general recommendation, our firm routinely advises people to get as much UM/UIM coverage as they can afford. We also recommend stacking the UM/UIM benefits. This can be essential to protecting yourself and your family and to maximize your potential recovery in case of an accident.
Contact our firm today if you have any questions regarding UM/UIM motorist coverage. Our team of experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers is ready to help you. The initial consultation is completely free. Call us now at 215-914-6919 or call toll free at 866-617-0050.
Pennsylvania Car Accident statistics
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation released a 2017 study that set forth Pennsylvania car accident statistics. Here, we highlight some of this data:
- There were approximately 15 crashes per hour in Pennsylvania in 2017.
- On average, about three people died each day in car accidents in Pennsylvania.
- There was an approximate loss of $1,414 economic for every individual (man, woman, and child) as a result of traffic collisions in Pennsylvania.
- A total of 128,188 car crashes were reported in Pennsylvania for 2017, with 1,137 fatalities reported fatalities.
- Compared to previous years there was a 1% increase in reported crashes, a 4.3% decrease in total deaths, and a 2.8% decrease in injuries.
- Most of the car crashes in Pennsylvania in 2017 involved drivers colliding with fixed objects, and other common types were rear-end collisions and angled collisions.
- The most common driving errors included distracted driving, drunk driving, improper turns, and speeding.
- Men were more likely to be involved in accidents than women across every age group.
- Compared to other high-income countries, the United States has the highest rates of car accident deaths. We have over 32,000 people across the nation die in car accidents every years, with millions injured while traveling on roadways.
Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Pennsylvania
There are many causes of car accidents in Pennsylvania. Here are a list of some of the more common causes of collisions in our state:
- Driver Error: This is the most common cause of car crashes by far. These include a variety of costly mistakes. Driver error can be lessened by following the rules of the road and driving in line with safety recommendations.
- Drunk Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol is a major cause of accidents in Pennsylvania. The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is a blood alcohol level of .08% BAC. However, the ability of a person to safely drive a vehicle when drinking varies from person to person regardless of their BAC. Alcohol affects motor skills, reaction times, and judgment. If a person knowingly drives while under the influence of alcohol it can lead to civil liability for damages in a lawsuit in addition to criminal charges for DUI.
- Distracted Driving: There are many activities that can cause a driver’s attention to stray from the roadways. These include using a phone, texting, eating, rifling through a bag, putting on makeup, touching the radio or information screens, reaching into the backseat, swerving to avoid potholes, and more. Distracted driving seems to be becoming even more common with the use of smartphones. Our attorneys routinely evaluate whether another driver was distracted. We can examine event data recorders, subpoena phone records, take witness statements, and obtain traffic camera or dash cam recordings to help prove that a driver was distracted at the time of an accident.
- Speeding: Many drivers simply drive too fast for road conditions. This can be as simple as exceeding the speed limit, but can also mean driving too fast on icy or slick road conditions or at a rate of speed that is faster than traffic conditions. We look to many factors to prove someone is speeding, including event data recorder information and witness statements.
- Reckless Driving: There are a lot of examples of reckless driving. People are reckless when they know they are doing something that increases the risk of an accident but do it anyway. This can lead to serious accidents. Some of these examples of reckless driving include tailgating, failing to signal lane changes, speeding, and disregarding traffic signals and conditions.
- Not following roadway rules: It is essential that all Pennsylvania drivers understand and consistently follow every rule of the road when they get behind the wheel. This includes following road signs, traffic signals, stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, yielding to cyclists when required, and being aware of current traffic and weather conditions.
- Car Defects and Malfunctions: Sometimes a car accident can be caused by an internal defect in the car or vehicle itself. In these situations, a malfunction due to a design or manufacturing defect may be the fault of the car company. These cases can be complex and time intensive. It is critically important to preserve the vehicles involved in the accident so they can be inspected for potential defects. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers have years of experience handling product liability claims, and we can investigate and pursue claims against the vehicle manufacturer and seller responsible for a vehicle’s defect.
Speak to a Skilled Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today
It takes knowledge, skill, and tenacity to handle car accident cases in Philadelphia. There is no substitute for experience. Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys have handled car accident cases in Philadelphia for nearly twenty years. When you need help you can rely upon the team at Mattiacci Law to fight for you.
Our car accident lawyers stand ready to answer your questions. We are here to help. Contact our firm now for a free consultation. The initial consultation is completely free. Call us now at 215-914-6919 or call toll free at 866-617-0050.
Types of Car Accidents
Rear-end collisions can lead to devastating injuries, particularly to the head and neck. These cases may seem straightforward, but may require a deeper investigation to determine liability. Working with an experienced car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation that you deserve.
In Pennsylvania, nearly half of all crashes — 38.4% — happen at intersections. These types of accidents can be particularly dangerous, leaving occupants exposed in a T-bone style wreck. Exercising care and caution is particularly important to avoid dangerous intersection collisions. Our firm has years of experience in handling T-bone and intersection accidents. Our experienced team of car accident attorneys get results.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Cases
If you are in a collision with a driver who lacks insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to cover your losses, your own insurance policy may cover your damages. An uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist policy can help ensure that you recover for your injuries — even if the other driver cannot be found or lacks the insurance to pay for your damages.
In 2017, there were 7,367 accidents involving commercial trucks in Pennsylvania. These crashes may be caused by improperly maintained vehicles, distracted drivers, or truckers who drive beyond what is safe in order to meet goals set by their employers. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you will need an attorney who will fight for your right to compensation. Our attorneys have has won several significant trucking accident cases. in 2018, Bill Coppol was lead counsel in a trucking accident case that resolved for more than $10 million.
When you get into a taxi, Uber or Lyft, you are trusting that the driver is going to operate the car safely. If he or she doesn’t — or if the driver of a taxi or ride share vehicle hits your car — then recovering for your losses can be complicated. In this situation, you will need an attorney who understands the law and how to fight the insurance companies to help you recover.
Whenever a motorcycle crashes, the potential for a serious or even fatal injury is high. This is particularly true when a bike collides with a passenger or commercial vehicle. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical injuries, time off work, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
Although pedestrians should be safe walking on our sidewalks and crossing the road, they are too often hit by speeding vehicles and distracted drivers. These types of accidents have the potential to cause incredibly serious injuries, or even death. A skilled car accident lawyer can work with you to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve for your losses after a pedestrian accident.
Determining Fault in a Philadelphia Car Accident Case
Determining who is at fault after a car accident is critical. A person may only be held responsible for damages caused by an accident if that driver was negligent. Negligence is something that your attorney must prove in order to successfully bring a case against the other driver (the defendant). The injured person has the burden of proving fault. An experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer can help prove your case.
Negligence means that a person failed to exercise reasonable care. For example, a driver who slammed into the back of your vehicle may be found negligent in that rear-end collision because he failed to stop his or her car, or swerved to avoid a pot hole before hitting your vehicle. Another example of negligent driving involves texting and driving. If a driver was texting instead of paying attention to the road and runs a red light, striking another car, they would likely be found negligent (especially because texting and driving is illegal in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania).
Sometimes fault is very clear, such as in these examples. However, there are cases when determining who was negligent can be more complicated. This can happen in multi-car collisions or when there is a dispute as to what happened. In those situations, there are additional investigative steps that can be taken to help determine how the accident occurred and whether someone was negligent.
The Investigation Process
It is important to start investigating the facts of a motor vehicle accident as quickly as possible after it occurred. Our team of Philadelphia car accident lawyers begin an investigation immediately. This often involves taking photographs of both the vehicle and the scene of the incident, obtaining the property damage information, getting the police report, tracking down witnesses and getting statements. In some cases, it may require hiring an accident reconstruction expert or a biomechanical engineer.
Some vehicles are also equipped with an event data recorder. An event data recorder records vehicle information in the seconds before, during, and after a collision. This can include the speed of the vehicle and how that speed changed during the collision, the number and location of occupants in the car, whether seat belts were in use, whether airbags activated, and whether and when the brakes were used. This information can be downloaded after a collision and used by experts to help piece together how a collision occurred.
This type of investigation can be costly, but it is necessary to ensure that a case is properly prepared. Our Philadelphia car accident firm advances the costs associated with the investigation. Our clients never have to pay money out of pocket, and they pay no retainer. Our firm is only reimbursed for our costs if we recover money in the case.
Putting a Value on a Car Accident Case
The value of a case depends on many factors. These factors include:
- The severity of the injuries sustained in the accident;
- The permanency of the injuries sustained in the accident;
- Whether surgery was or is necessary;
- Whether there is scarring and/or disfigurement from the accident;
- The amount of medical bills paid and that are still owed;
- The amount of future medical bills that are needed for future treatment;
- The amount of wages or income lost by the injured person;
- How the injuries have affected the injured person’s life; and
- How the injuries have affected the spouse of an injured person (also known as a loss of consortium claim).
Some accidents result in very serious injuries that result in death, brain damage, or severe injuries requiring surgery. In such situations, the value of a case may be more apparent from the outset. However, there are times when it is necessary to allow a client treatment for a period of time before an estimate of the potential case value can be determined.
In addition to these factors, we also have to determine whether we can also show that the opposing driver was at fault and was negligent. A strong negligence argument helps the value of a case. A difficult or weak negligence argument may reduce the value of a case. However, every case is different and depends on its own facts.
Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers investigate each of these factors to help maximize the value of each of our cases. We review the injuries and obtain all of the medical records and diagnostic tests. We hire experts or physicians to examine our clients and give opinions on their injuries. These reports also detail whether our clients suffered permanent injuries and if so, what treatment and bills will be needed in the future.
We may also involve other experts to help build the damages in our cases. These include vocational experts who can test our clients to see what work they may able to do after being injured. We also use economists who calculate the amount of money a client has lost and will continue to lose in the future due to his or her injuries. All of these things help determine the value of a case.
How Insurance Polices Impact Recovery in Pennsylvania
Many people do not know the difference between limited tort and full tort auto insurance. However, the type of insurance you have can play a large role in whether you can be compensated for all of your injuries and damages.
In Pennsylvania, limited tort insurance generally costs less than full tort insurance. In exchange for slightly cheaper insurance premiums, a person who elects limited tort insurance gives up their ability to sue for pain and suffering damages. A person who has chosen limited tort insurance may still recover pain and suffering damages if they suffer a serious injury. In contrast, full tort insurance does not limit a person’s ability to recover pain and suffering damages due to an auto accident.
There are several exceptions that may apply to overcome the limited tort limitations. Every case is different, which is why it is important to work with a seasoned lawyer who understands the nuances of Pennsylvania law.
Work with an Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
The aftermath of a car accident can be both stressful and overwhelming. Working with an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney can help to ease that burden. Your lawyer can take on the challenges of dealing with insurance companies, reviewing paperwork, and examining your insurance police to check for potential benefits.
For more than 18 years, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers have represented clients injured in a range of personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents. We are dedicated to helping victims get what they need when they are hurt in a car accident. We do everything we can to recover the best possible result for our clients. We seek money to compensate our clients for pain and suffering, past and future medical bills, lost wages, scarring and disfigurement, and the loss of their enjoyment of life.
In addition to seeking money from the responsible party, we also help with other issues associated with car accidents. This includes claims paperwork to ensure medical bills are paid to working with the opposing insurance company to make sure the damage to your car is paid for or repaired.
Mattiacci Law represents clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who have been injured in car accidents and other types of personal injury claims. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money in your case. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact our firm today at 855-295-3902 (Philadelphia office) or 855-659-6976 (New Jersey office), or reach out online anytime.