How to File a Car Accident Claim in Pennsylvania22 Mar 2023, by Motor Vehicle Accidents, Personal Injury in
Written by Timothy Czekaj
If you’re hurt in a car accident, your main concern is probably how you’ll recover physically without suffering financially. Managing your injuries on top of expenses such as medical bills and vehicle damages can be burdensome. Fortunately, you can recover compensation after a crash by filing a claim or lawsuit.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania car accident claims process and how a car accident lawyer can ease the burden.
What Do You Need to File a Lawsuit?
Your biggest priority in the immediate aftermath of an accident should be to seek medical attention for injuries you or your passengers may have suffered. Even if you feel fine, going to a doctor could reveal injuries that aren’t apparent. Medical documentation from these visits can also support your injury claim and keep the at-fault party from asserting you weren’t hurt as badly as you say.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit vs. An Insurance Claim
It’s also important to report the accident to your insurance company. Pennsylvania follows a no-fault system for car accident insurance holders. This means you’ll file a claim with your insurance company rather than the other driver’s in the event of a collision — regardless of who is at fault.
Your insurance policy may require you to notify the company promptly – waiting can only give them reasons to minimize your payout. However, filing an insurance claim doesn’t mean you can’t pursue a personal injury lawsuit if your damages are severe and exceed policy limits.
Other evidence from the scene could also help your case. Your attorney will work with you to gather any relevant evidence. This could include photos and videos from the crash scene, witness testimony, copies of the police report, and more.
Possible Damages You Could Recover in Your Claim
You could recover compensation for many types of damages in a car accident lawsuit, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damages
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
How to File Your Car Accident Claim
The personal injury lawsuit process begins with your attorney filing a complaint against the at-fault driver requesting compensation and outlining your case. The person you’re filing against, the defendant, will receive the complaint.
Then, the defendant will file a response, typically within 20 days of receiving the complaint. They could also file a counterclaim arguing you were at fault or shared responsibility for the accident.
It’s important to note that your case could settle before making it to trial, even if a lawsuit has been filed. A settlement could be reached at any point in the process.
You Have Limited Time to File
Pennsylvania law states that personal injury victims must begin their claim within two years of the accident date. Meeting this deadline, known as the statute of limitations, is crucial to your claim. If you wait too long to file and the statute expires, your claim could be dismissed, preventing you from recovering any damages in a lawsuit.
What Happens after You File?
Discovery is typically the first pre-trial procedure in a car accident claim. Your attorney will exchange documents and other information with the defendant’s attorney. You and any witnesses could also be deposed in this stage and have to share your testimony out of court as evidence.
After discovery, both sides will prepare for trial. If your case proceeds to trial, arguments will be presented in front of a judge or jury, who will then make a decision and award compensation as they see fit.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Working with a car accident attorney can help maximize your chances of successfully recovering compensation in a lawsuit. Your attorney can file the necessary documents, take care of all the legal details, and advocate aggressively for you in negotiations.
You shouldn’t settle for any less than your claim is worth. An attorney will help you calculate the value of all your damages and fight for your recovery, whether your case settles or goes to trial.
Ready to File a Car Accident Claim? Call Czekaj Law, LLC Today
If you were hurt in a car accident and need help deciding what to do next, Czekaj Law, LLC, can help. We serve accident victims across central Pennsylvania and have years of experience representing those injured in car accidents like yours. We’ll ensure you understand your legal options and advise you on the best choice for your circumstances.