4 Elements of a Car Accident Claim in Pennsylvania
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you’ll probably file a car accident claim with your insurer. If you have full tort coverage or if you have limited tort but suffered serious injuries, you may file a liability claim with an at-fault driver. You must consider these four elements.
Negligence & CausationA valid liability tort claim is one where another party is at fault for the accident. The at-fault party is usually another passenger car driver, but it could be a reckless motorcyclist or negligent trucker. Negligence can be anything from failing to obey a traffic signal to failing to yield and otherwise driving recklessly. Even a vehicle manufacturer may be liable in a product liability case if a car involved had a factory defect. Your claim must establish that the other party's negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
Comparative FaultPennsylvania's negligence laws require that liability claimants be less than 51 percent at fault for causing the accident to be eligible to receive compensation in the liability claim. The degree of fault determines the value of your settlement that you may collect. For example, if have $100,000 in damages and you are 20 percent at fault for the accident, you will only collect $80,000.
EvidenceTo prove another party was negligent and therefore at fault for your car accident, you must have sufficient evidence. Evidence from the scene can include pictures of the vehicles, injuries, and the area surrounding the crash. Make note of the weather, and get the contact information of any other drivers or pedestrians involved, as well as any witnesses to the crash. When you call the police to the scene, they will create an official report with the details of the crash which you should obtain as soon as possible. Make sure your damaged vehicle is kept intact following the accident, as you may need to have it inspected for defects or mechanical failures. Ask the towing company to take it to a secure location and store it.
DamagesIf you were not injured and your vehicle suffered no damage, you don't have a car accident liability claim to file. Personal injuries and physical damage to your vehicle or other personal property are damages for which you may receive compensation in a tort claim. Beyond the obvious medical damages and property repairs, your car accident claim could also seek damages for lost wages from time you take off of work to recover from your injuries. You may also be able to claim pain and suffering (emotional or non-economic) damages for the emotional toil a serious accident takes on you and your family.