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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT CASE
Questions that must be answered: Some lawyers do not know all the legal questions that must be investigated and answered to make sure you are fully compensated. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania, please call our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers for a FREE CAR ACCIDENT CONSULTATION, or send us an instant e-mail using the contact form below.
Edith Pearce has the inside knowledge of the auto insurance business, as she worked as a lawyer for years for a major auto insurance company. Let her inside knowledge work for you to obtain the maximum compensation either through settlement or trial. Listed below are just some of the questions that must be answered to obtain maximum compensation:
- Do you have limited tort or full tort on your policy?
- Do you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage with or without stacking?
- Do you have income loss protection?
- Are there multiple policies of insurance under which you may get coverage?
- Could there be workers’ compensation coverage?
- What if the car accident happened out of state?
- What if I am partially at fault in causing the car accident?
- Did the car accident involve drunk driving?
- Do you have limited tort or full tort on your policy?
Limited tort: Two types of insurance coverage can be purchased in Pennsylvania, which are known as “limited tort option” and “full tort option.” To find out if you have “limited tort” or “full tort” check the declaration page of your policy. Under Pennsylvania law, those who select the limited tort option may not bring suit for non-economic damages or “pain and suffering,” unless they have suffered a “serious injury.” A serious injury is defined by law as a personal injury resulting in death, permanent and serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of bodily function. At present, the courts across Pennsylvania are still interpreting what constitutes a “serious injury.” Generally, the courts will look to see if the injury has significantly affected your ability to perform your normal activities of daily living for a long period of time and caused you to suffer a significant amount of pain and discomfort during that period of time. Edith Pearce recommends you choose the “full tort” option or change to the “full tort” option. Choosing limited tort saves you very little money in annual premiums, as little as $100 to $200, yet it may cost you thousands of dollars by not allowing you to recover for certain injuries. If you have “limited tort,” on your auto policy, you may still have a case and you need an experienced car accident insurance lawyer like Edith Pearce to help prove you have a serious injury to allow you to recover.
Full tort: Full Tort allows you to retain unrestricted rights to bring suit against the negligent party in an car accident, whether your injury is considered “serious” or not. Do not be fooled by the insurance companies claim to save you money. Make sure you choose the full tort option to protect you and your family.
Do you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage with or without stacking?
Uninsured: Uninsured Motorist Benefits (usually abbreviated UM on your policy) protect you and your family if you were injured in a car accident and the driver at fault had no insurance or if the driver who caused the car accident left the scene of the accident without stopping (“hit and run”). UM coverage is inexpensive. You may choose to waive this coverage, which Edith Pearce strongly recommends against. By waiving UM coverage, you are choosing not to insure or protect yourself and your family, even though you have been responsible and purchased automobile insurance to protect a stranger if you cause the car accident. Don’t protect others and fail to protect yourself and your family. If you choose UM benefits, your insurance company will pay you the same as the other driver’s insurance company would have paid you if that person had insurance. Also, the insurance company is not allowed to raise your rates, or refuse to renew coverage, because you made a claim for UM benefits. In other words, if the car accident was not your fault, your rates will not go up just because you made a claim.
Underinsured: Underinsured Motorist Benefits (usually abbreviated UIM on your policy) protect you and your family if you were injured in a car accident and the driver at fault had insurance coverage, but the amount or limits of coverage were too low to compensate you for your injuries. For example, assume the driver at fault maintained the minimum amount of insurance allowed under Pennsylvania of $15,000 of liability coverage, which was paid to you. Also assume that you were seriously injured in a car accident and the fair compensation for your injuries was $100,000. If you maintained underinsured motorist coverage of $100,000, your insurance company could pay you $85,000 additional benefits to allow you to be fully compensated (rather than just receiving $15,000). The insurance company is not permitted to raise your rates, or refuse to renew coverage, merely because it paid underinsured benefits. If the car accident was not your fault, your rates will not go up just because you made a claim. Edith Pearce strongly recommends you maintain underinsured coverage. Don’t protect others and fail to protect yourself and your family. Failure to maintain underinsured coverage could result in you receiving only $15,000 for bodily injuries because the driver at fault purchased the cheapest auto insurance policy with minimum limits.
Stacking: If you have chosen “Stacking” of your automobile insurance policy, you are permitted to add together or “stack” the coverages of each automobile owned and registered in Pennsylvania for uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) coverage or insurance. For example, if each vehicle has $15,000/$30,000 coverage and there are two vehicles, the coverage would actually be equivalent to $30,000/$60,000 limits. Although stacking is optional, Edith Pearce strongly recommends that you choose or add stacking to your policy as it may provide an inexpensive means to increase your coverage. Although you may not know it, you may be adequately protecting others in an car accident, except yourself, by not having enough underinsured or uninsured coverage. Underinsured and Uninsured coverage protects you if you are injured in a car accident and the driver at fault does not have enough insurance or any insurance to compensate you for your injuries.
Do you have income loss protection?
Income loss protection is optional under Pennsylvania law. If you choose this coverage, generally 80% of gross income lost after the first five days of work missed can be recovered up to $1,000 per month. The minimum wage loss coverage you may purchase is $5,000.00. Edith Pearce recommends you purchase income loss protection at a level that provides a safety net. If you do not carry Income loss coverage, you may not be able to collect money for your lost wages unless and until your case has resolved either through a trial or by settlement.
Are there multiple policies of insurance under which you may get coverage?
Multiple policies of insurance: Generally, if you own more than one registered vehicle in Pennsylvania, stacking is permitted so that you may add together or “stack” your underinsured or uninsured coverage of each automobile. Also, the party that caused the car accident may have more than one policy available for you to recover against. For example, if the driver causing the car accident is driving a business vehicle, there may be coverage under a business automobile insurance policy, umbrella insurance coverage, and a personal automobile insurance policy.
Umbrella insurance: An umbrella policy is excess liability insurance coverage over and above that which is covered by an automobile insurance policy. In picking up where an automobile policy left off, it is an extra layer of coverage.
Could there be workers’ compensation coverage?
Workers’ Compensation: Workers’ Compensation (formerly known as workmen’s compensation) generally covers employees from injuries, which occur while working, and provides wage loss and medical benefits. Most people do not think of workers’ compensation coverage when they are involved in a car accident. If your car accident involved a trip or errand for your company, it may be covered under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation. Even a car accident while commuting to and from work can sometimes be covered under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation. While Pennsylvania does not allow workers’ compensation benefits if the car accident occurs when an employee is generally commuting to and from work, there are many exceptions to this rule. For example, where the employee’s duties included travel or where the employee was running an errand for his employer during his or her commute, workers’ compensation may apply. Other examples of automobile accidents which could be covered under workers’ compensation include when an employer is paying/reimbursing mileage as part of an employee’s salary and where the employee has no fixed place of work such as an office or building he reports to every day. For example, a health care provider or nurse that travels to different patients’ homes everyday may be covered by workers’ compensation even if the car accident occurs on her commute home, because she had “no fixed place of work.” Edith Pearce has the inside knowledge of working for an insurance company as an attorney and a defense firm for 10 years. She will be able to determine what insurance may apply to achieve the maximum compensation you deserve.
What if the car accident happened out of state?
Out of state car accidents: If your injury or car accident occurred out of state, there are many issues, which you need an experienced personal injury car accident attorney to investigate. You may be bound by the state’s laws where the car accident occurred regarding when and how to bring a claim. You have a limited amount of time in which to file a claim in any state. This time period, called a statute of limitations, varies from personal injury claim to claim and from state to state. Most jurisdictions allow victims at least one year from the date of injury or the date the personal injury was discovered to file a lawsuit. However, every state has its own laws and you may have to make your claim or give notice within a short period of time. There may have to be legal decisions on where to file your claim. If the person at fault is a resident of another state, you may be able to file your suit in Federal Court in the state where you live. However, sometimes there may be advantages to filing suit in the state where the car accident occurred. Edith Pearce’s extensive knowledge of insurance and her involvement in the American Bar Association with contacts in almost every state gives her the added advantage of handling your case if your injury occurred out of state.
What if I am partially at fault in causing the car accident?
What if I’m partially to blame for what happened? Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law, you may still recover damages if you are partially at fault, unless a judge or jury finds you to be more than 50% responsible for your own injury. For example, if you are found 40% negligent and the other driver is found to be 60% negligent, you may recover. This is known as “comparative negligence.” There is no formula for arriving at a precise number for a person’s comparative negligence. You need an experienced auto accident injury lawyer to negotiate for your settlement with an insurance adjuster or possibly argue your case to a jury at trial to discuss all of the factors that might have caused the accident.
Did the car accident involve drunk driving?
If a person was intoxicated who caused the car accident, a claim may also be made against the business (bar or restaurant) that served alcohol to the driver, if the driver was visibly intoxicated when served. This is known as a “Dram Shop” case or complaint. Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law, any person or business that negligently sells a container of alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person may be held liable under the Dram Shop Act for potential injuries. Thus, you may have a claim against the at-fault driver and the business that served alcohol to the driver. Because these cases are complicated and involve multiple insurance companies, you need an experienced Dram Shop lawyer and a lawyer familiar with insurance involving drunk driving.
These are just some of the complicated legal questions, which must be addressed whenever a car accident occurs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Having previously worked as a trial attorney for an insurance company and defense firm, the Pearce Law Firm is prepared to fully investigate your accident claim and all insurance options, and will maximize your recovery.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and New Jersey, please call our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers for a FREE CAR ACCIDENT CONSULTATION, or send us an instant e-mail.
We are dedicated to protecting your rights and obtaining full and fair compensation for you.
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If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania, please call our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers for a FREE CAR ACCIDENT CONSULTATION, or send us an instant e-mail.