Car Accident FAQ

Common Car Accident Questions

What are some of the most common causes of car crashes?

In almost every situation, car accidents are caused by human behavior behind the wheel. Per the 2010 Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics booklet, two main contributors to fatal crashes are drivers who are speeding over the posted or safe speed limit, as well as those who are driving drunk. Other causes of crashes related to driver error include improper turning, distracted driving, careless or illegal passing, proceeding without clearance, tailgating and driving while drowsy. In some cases, however, the drivers themselves may have nothing to do with the accident. Some crashes may be caused by a manufacturing defect, where the car is equipped with a faulty part. It may also be caused by bad weather, or even a poorly maintained road.

How common are alcohol-related car accidents?

Pet the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), crashes involving alcohol attributed to one out of every ten accidents in 2010 and resulted in 35 percent of all fatalities in that year. If the accident involved alcohol, it was 4.5 more likely to result in a fatality than accidents without the involvement of alcohol. While alcohol-related crashes are on a downward trend, the numbers clearly demonstrate that these are by no means a minor cause of accidents. In fact, it remains a prevalent hazard on the road.

What's the difference between punitive and compensatory damages?

After being involved in a car accident, one of the most important things that you are going to be looking into is how you can recover just damages, or monetary compensation. It, however, is important to note that there are two distinct types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory is the most commonly awarded types of damages; it is designed to help a victim get as close to the quality of life before the accident as possible. Some of these are quantifiable and objective—such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, etc. Others, however, may be more subjective—such as pain and suffering, lowered quality of life, and even the loss of companionship in fatal car accident cases. On the other hand, punitive damages are both a penalty for the defendant, as well as a deterrent to future wrongdoing, both by the defendant and others. Cases which may involve punitive damages include car accidents caused by drinking and driving.

What are some things that should be done at the scene of the accident?

First things first, you should always take care of medical treatment first—no matter whether that involves staying in your vehicle until emergency help arrives, rendering aid to other people in the accident, or other. Beyond that, however, there are steps that should be taken at the scene of the car accident which can help you significantly during the rest of the personal injury claim process. For example, gathering information from the other driver(s) involved and key witnesses—including name and contact information, as well as insurance information from the other driver(s). It also includes gathering license plate numbers. One important, but often overlooked, step is to take pictures, as many as possible. These photos should be of any injuries that were sustained, the vehicles involved in the accident, as well as the scenery around the crash.

How can I determine who was at fault for the car accident?

Deciding who is at fault for a car accident is the foundation for any given personal injury case. It, however, is often easier said than done. The complication of determining fault is one of the primary reasons why it is so important to contact a knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury lawyer who will be able to look after your best interests. For example, one of the first things that should be done is to determine whether or not one of the involved drivers was violating the law prior to or during the accident—this include speeding, failing to yield, or even driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The police report could become invaluable during this time to helping to prove fault. In some situations, such as rear-end collisions and left-turn accidents, the type of the accident may determine fault nine out of ten times. Still, there are rarely cases where fault is black and white and it is therefore crucial to have knowledgeable legal representation.

How long do I have to file my car accident case?

The window of time you have to file is dictated by what is known as the statute of limitations (SOL). In the state of Pennsylvania, these are different depending on the type of case that you are looking to file. For example, under Pennsylvania Tit. 42 §5524(1), there is a two year limitation on actions to recover damages for injuries to a person, wrongful death, or injury to personal property. If you would like to know more about the timeline you are facing for your own case, you should not hesitate to contact a lawyer in your area.

Should I hire a car accident lawyer, or can I handle my case on my own?

There are innumerable benefits to hiring a car accident attorney to help you with the details of your case. Not only can an attorney help you to save time by expediting the entire process, but they can also help to ensure that you aren't jerked around be either your insurance company or the at-fault party's insurance company. With an attorney on your side, you can rest assured knowing that you will be guided throughout the process.