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What to Do If You Were Injured in a Car Accident

May 3, 2019

You are out for a drive on a nice day, on the way to work or heading to the grocery store and out of nowhere you get hit by another vehicle. That accident can change your life in an instant and possibly result in serious, disabling injuries or even death. For most accident victims, filing an accident claim is overwhelming and stressful. This is because Pennsylvania’s insurance laws are different from other U.S. states and have “choice no-fault” insurance. When you purchase your insurance policy, you have the option to select “Full Tort” or “Limited Tort” coverage.

With “Full Tort” coverage, you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. If you elected “Limited Tort” coverage, then you have given up your right to sue for pain and suffering, unless you can prove that you have suffered a “serious impairment to a bodily function.” The Courts have defined a “serious impairment to a bodily function” more strictly than one would think. At Melaragno, Placidi & Parini we will explain the law to you in great detail to allow you to make an informed decision about how you wish to proceed with your case.

What do you do in the aftermath of a car crash

Your actions after a car accident are important. If able, follow the following steps if you were involved in a vehicle crash. You actions after a wreck can help you be successful in you legal claim for compensation for your injuries. What is particularly important is preserving evidence and speaking to witnesses who saw the accident. In Erie and in Pennsylvania you can file a claim with both the at-fault driver’s insurer and your own insurer.

Follow these steps if you can and if you cannot, perhaps another driver, passenger or witness can do this for you:

  • First, call 911 to alert authorities to the accident and ensure a police report is generated.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, place blame on anyone or admit fault.
  • Exchange contact information such as insurance policies and driver’s license.
  • Record or write down what you are able to recall about the accident. Make sure you detail what happened just prior to the collision.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, provide a verbal or written statement to the insurance companies. Discuss this first with your attorney.
  • If you do not already have an attorney, find an experienced Erie car accident lawyer to represent you as soon as possible.
  • File a lawsuit as soon as possible. You can file a lawsuit up to two years after the time of the accident. Do not wait until after the deadline or the courts bar your claim.

Do you need to hire a car accident lawyer?

While it is not required of you to hire a lawyer, it is in your best interest to hire one. Victims/plaintiffs who hire an attorney end up getting significantly higher settlements. The attorney deals with everything related to your case and that includes rapacious insurance companies who attempt to get you to settle quickly and for a lower dollar amount than you may be awarded in court. Insurance companies only care about protecting the insurance company’s bottom line.

Part and parcel of hiring an experienced car accident attorney at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini is the fact that they can help you understand the confusing insurance questions arising after an accident and find out who is liable for your medical, property damage and other expenses. Do not say anything, sign anything or permit anyone else to record you after an accident, as anything you say may be used against you later to reduce or deny your claim. It is your right to file a claim for compensation after an accident. Your Erie accident lawyer from Melaragno, Placidi & Parini has your back.

Damages for pain and suffering

Pain is not just physical and in the aftermath of a crash there is often anxiety, grief, depression and other difficult emotions. It is hard to get compensated for all the ways your life changed after being injured. A competent car accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation for emotional damages and physical injuries.

Injuries sustained in a car accident are not always readily apparent, such as whiplash. Other may be seen right away. However, it can take days, weeks or even months for symptoms to appear. Additionally, even though an injury may seem minor, it may require surgery and other ongoing, extensive medical treatment. Seeking legal advice promptly is vitally important.

How much could you be awarded in compensation?

Compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident is based on multiple factors and as such, since no two accidents are the same, there is no way to estimate what damages could be awarded. Factors considered when awarding compensation include:

  • Who was at fault
  • Evidence at the scene of the accident
  • The severity of the impact
  • The type of injuries involved
  • The severity of the injuries
  • The extent and duration of treatment
  • The type of treatment
  • Scarring and/or other permanent health damages
  • Past, present and future medical needs/necessities
  • The amount of any loss of income
  • The amount of any medical liens (claims your medical providers may have for payment for treatment that was rendered to you)

In Pennsylvania, every driver must have the same minimum coverage. This minimum coverage includes:

  • $5,000 of medical benefits – no matter who was at-fault you are entitled to at least $5,000 for medical bills from your insurer
  • $15,000/$30,000 bodily injury liability – if you prove the other driver as at fault, you may recover up to (and possibly more from the other driver’s policy) $15,000 for your injuries

If you have been involved in a car accident and have sustained serious injuries, Melaragno, Placidi & Parini stand ready to help you navigate the legal process and obtain the equitable compensation you deserve.

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