Car Accident FAQ
Answers from Experienced Attorneys
For more than 130 years, our firm has provided capable representation to clients throughout Pennsylvania. With a history of excellence and dedication to success, our firm has become one of the most established firms in the state. As such, our clients benefit from our attention to detail, our commitment to client satisfaction, and our extensive resources.
Whether you've been injured as a passenger or as the driver in a car accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries with a skilled lawyer from our firm. We operate on a contingency-fee basis, meaning you don't pay us unless we obtain a settlement on your behalf.
Click on a question below to find out additional information.
What is the first thing I should do after a car accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, you should seek medical treatment immediately. You should then consider contacting a personal injury attorney.
I was in an accident and my vehicle was damaged. Who decides where it gets repaired?Where your vehicle is repaired depends on which insurance company is paying
for the repairs. Each insurance company has its own policy. Some have
preferred providers, and some others will allow you to choose.
Who is responsible for paying the towing and storage costs for my damaged car?The insurance company of the at-fault vehicle is responsible for those costs, but your own insurance company may pay for towing and storage and try to recoup the payments from the at-fault driver's insurance company.
Who decides if my car is repairable or totaled?The insurance company paying on the claim will determine whether a car is repairable or totaled. They do so by taking estimates on the car value and damage. If the cost of repairing the car is more than the car's market value, then the car will be considered totaled.
WHO PAYS THE BANK LOAN IF MY CAR OR TRUCK IS FINANCED?If your vehicle is considered a total loss, the insurance company paying fair market value will pay the finance company. If there is an outstanding balance after fair market value is paid, then your gap insurance (if applicable) should cover the remainder.
THE POLICE SHOWED UP AT THE SCENE OF MY ACCIDENT AND SAID I'M PARTIALLY AT FAULT FOR THE WRECK. DO I STILL HAVE A CASE?Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state. This means that you can be assigned a certain percentage of fault in an accident and still be able to recover compensation, as long as you're not more than 50% at fault.
I WAS IN A FENDER BENDER A COUPLE WEEKS AGO BUT DIDN'T THINK I WAS INJURED. NOW, I'VE SUDDENLY DEVELOPED BACK AND NECK PAIN. SHOULD I SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT?Yes, seek medical treatment immediately. Contact your insurance company to open a medical claim for those bills to be paid.
HOW DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY CALCULATE HOW TO COMPENSATE ME FOR MY PAIN AND SUFFERING?Pain and suffering compensation is based upon examination of your case as a whole. All factors must be considered, including your age, your diagnosis, type of treatment, any prior medical history, etc. An experienced personal injury lawyer would be able to accurately assess your pain and suffering value.
I HAD TO MISS WORK DUE TO INJURIES CAUSED BY A CAR ACCIDENT THAT WASN'T MY FAULT. HOW CAN I GET COMPENSATED FOR MY WAGE LOSS?
You can make a wage loss claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. You may be able to receive income loss benefits from your own car policy, which are a form of first party benefits. First party benefits may be recovered under an auto policy on which you are a named insured or under an auto policy covering you as an insured.
Additionally, you may be able to recover first party benefits under a policy that insured the motor vehicle you were in at the time of the accident. If you are a pedestrian involved in an auto accident, you may be entitled to first party benefits under the policy of any motor vehicle involved in the accident. If you are the owner of a currently registered motor vehicle who does not have financial responsibility, then you cannot recover first party benefits.
I WAS CONTACTED BY THE AT-FAULT DRIVER'S INSURANCE COMPANY, AND THEY WANT ME TO MAKE A RECORDED STATEMENT. HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MY ACCIDENT CLAIM?
If you consent to a recorded statement, the insurance adjuster or their investigator will ask you a series of questions about how the accident happened, your injuries, your medical treatment, and your wage loss. These questions are designed to provide the insurer with information that will help them defend the claim.
You are not required to give a recorded statement and should consult with an attorney first. Generally, you have a duty to cooperate with your own auto insurance company; but giving a recorded statement to the at-fault driver's insurance company is different than giving a recorded statement to your own insurance company.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT CAUSED BY A DRIVER WHO HAS NO CAR INSURANCE?If you are injured in a crashed caused by a driver who has no car insurance, you or your attorney will need to determine if you can make an uninsured motorist (UM) claim under your car insurance policy. You may be able to make an uninsured motorist claim under the policy covering the vehicle that you were occupying at the time of the accident.
THE AT-FAULT DRIVER'S INSURANCE COMPANY HAS ALREADY MADE ME A SETTLEMENT OFFER. CAN I STILL HIRE AN ATTORNEY?Yes, you can still hire an attorney if the at fault driver's insurance company has made an offer, as long as you have not already accepted the offer verbally or signed settlement release documents which bind you to accept a certain amount. Keep in mind that it is always best to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after a car accident, before a settlement offer is made.
I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT I DON'T HAVE AN INJURY CASE BECAUSE I HAVE "LIMITED TORT" ON MY AUTO INSURANCE POLICY. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Under "limited tort" insurance, you and members of your household that are covered under your auto insurance policy can try to recover compensation for all out-of-pocket and medical expenses. Generally speaking, you may not seek compensation for non-monetary damages such as pain and suffering, unless your injuries can be defined as "serious injury." Under Pennsylvania law, a serious injury is considered to be one which results in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.
Other limited tort exceptions may allow you to fully recover damages in these situations:
- If the person responsible for the accident is found guilty or if he or she agrees to accepting an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) if the accident involved driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance
- If the person responsible for the accident is driving a registered out-of-state vehicle
- If the person responsible for the accident purposefully injured another or him/herself
- If the person responsible for the accident has shirked financial responsibility
- If you occupied a vehicle other than a passenger vehicle at the time of the accident
I AM FROM PENNSYLVANIA, BUT WAS INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT WHILE TRAVELING IN ANOTHER STATE. CAN YOU STILL HANDLE MY CASE?Out-of-state cases are handled by our office on a case by case basis. If we are not able to handle your case due to jurisdictional concerns, we can certainly provide you with a referral to another law firm that may be able to assist.
IF I'M INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT, HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP ME?A personal injury lawyer can fight for the money that you need and deserve by law. He or she can help you collect money to pay for medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, and other injury related expenses.