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Law Offices of Attorney Daniel W Stern - Harrisburg Auto Accident Attorney

Automobile Accident Lawyer in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Cumberland

Auto Accident Lawyer

An automobile accident is a frightening event. You or a loved one may have been injured. Your car may be damaged or destroyed. As an experienced car accident attorney I can help you identify if you have the right to recover money to pay you for these losses - physical injury or damage to your property.

Automobile Accident Law gives you the right to recover loses depending on two things:
  1. Your ability to prove that someone else is at least 50% at fault in causing the accident to happen; and
  2. The kind of automobile insurance policy that you have purchased.

Whose Fault Is It?
Automobile Accident Law dictates that for you to be successful in your claim to collect money, someone else's negligence, which means carelessness, must be more than half the cause of the accident. The fact that an accident has happened does not always mean that someone has been negligent or careless.

It is not always easy to determine who is at fault and the question may be hotly debated. It is the job of this Harrisburg auto accident lawyer to use his or her skill to prove that the person you are claiming against is the one at fault.

What Losses Can Be Recovered?

Proving who was at fault is only half the battle. The other half is proving how much you have lost. Automobile accident law dictates that the common losses are: (a) damage to your vehicle; (b) loss of wages or income, including future income; and (c) medical expenses. You can also recover for losses that are more difficult to put a dollar figure on such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring, cosmetic disfigurement or loss of pleasure and enjoyment in life.

In addition, your spouse may have a claim if you are injured and the injury interferes with your marital relationship.

What Does Your Auto Insurance Policy Say?
Your right to recover for your losses in an automobile accident also depends on the insurance policy purchased by you or a member of your household. In Pennsylvania, auto accident law requires anyone who owns a vehicle to have some kind of insurance coverage. Our state also has modified no fault insurance. This means that no matter who is at fault, your medical bills and lost wages will be paid under the insurance policy, which insures you. Medical and wage benefits are called "first party benefits." Look at the "declarations page" of your policy. This is the document, which shows what you are buying when you pay your insurance premium. It will tell you how much coverage you have for medical expenses and lost wages. If you are involved in an accident, first party benefits will be paid by the insurance policy in which you are the named insured (your own policy), or by a policy that covers you because you reside in the household with the named insured, or by the policy that covers the car that you are driving or riding in at the time of the accident.

Your rights to get these benefits have nothing to do with fault. Your rights come from the insurance contract with the insurance company.

What If You Suffer a Serious Injury?
The policy which insures you will pay your medical bills and lost wages, but what if you or a loved one are badly injured? Pennsylvania Auto Accident Law dictates that your ability to sue the other driver and gain additional money damages will depend in part on the type of insurance you or the named insured have selected. According to Pennsylvania Auto Accident Law there are two insurance options that govern your right to sue for these types of damages - the full tort and the limited tort options. (1) Under full tort you have the absolute right to sue for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of pleasure in life. (2) Under limited tort you can only sue in the case of a serious injury. A serious injury is defined by the law as death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent cosmetic disfigurement. If the other driver was intoxicated, you may be able to sue even if you have limited tort coverage.

When you have had an auto accident and suffered an injury serious enough to have a negative effect on your quality of life, your Harrisburg car accident lawyer will need to determine the type of insurance that covers your situation. Your lawyer can also assist you in determining if you qualify for the serious injury category under the limited tort rules.

What Additional Protection Can My Insurance Policy Provide?
Your insurance policy can provide additional benefits to protect you or your family from uninsured or underinsured drivers. This coverage protects you if a driver, operating illegally without insurance, or with the bare minimum of liability coverage, causes an accident producing serious injury. This coverage must be purchased before the happening of an accident. Ask your agent about it.

What Are The Deadlines?
According to Harrisburg Auto Accident Law, even a good claim can be lost if it is not filed in time. The claim against the other driver must be filed in the right court within 2 years of the date of the auto accident. If the claim includes the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or a local government, proper notice to those authorities must be given within 6 months of the date of the auto accident. If it is necessary to file a law suit against your own insurance company to obtain your first party benefits - medical bills and lost wages - the claim must be brought within 4 years of the date of the accident or 4 years from the date of the last benefit paid, whichever is later.

What Is A Release?
A release is a legal contract which the insurance company for the negligent other driver will require you to sign before paying money damages for your claim. Do not sign a release (or anything else) without a complete understanding of what it means. No one should sign a release until the full extent of all the injuries are clear and a fair amount of money damages has been agreed upon to compensate you for all of your losses, past, present and future.

Your Check List
Before an accident happens, be sure to review and understand your automobile insurance policy.

  • Are the first party benefits in your insurance policy adequate to compensate you for any medical costs and lost wages caused by an accident?
  • Do you understand the difference in benefits between full tort and limited tort coverage?
  • Consider buying uninsured and underinsured coverage to further protect you and your family.

According to Auto Accident Law in Pennsylvania, once a release is signed, it will prevent you from asking for any additional money from the party you are releasing. It may also cut off other claims you may have, even though they are not specifically mentioned in the release. It is wise to have a release or settlement agreement reviewed by your attorney.

Fees and Costs
Your auto accident injury case will be reviewed at no charge. This Harrisburg auto accident attorney (the Harrisburg area) will need a complete set of all relevant medical records, your work history, the police report, and facts relating to your auto accident. We will help you obtain this information. Following the review, if we decide to pursue your case, you will be given a written fee agreement in plain English, and an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the way your case will be handled. The agreement will clearly explain the amount of the fee, and the responsibility for the payment of any additional costs.

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