Motor Vehicle Accidents
Were you injured in a car crash or other motor vehicle accident? Work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to win the compensation you need to move forward in life. Our attorney at Czekaj Law, LLC bring years of litigation experience to automobile accident and injury claims. We work with individuals in all types of situations, craft the most compelling arguments for their matters, and get results. To talk with us about how to approach your accident claim, submit your information through our online form or call (717) 275-9770. We offer free legal consultations.
Why You Should Call Czekaj Law, LLC
When you need a motor vehicle accident lawyer, you want someone who’s really on your side. At Czekaj Law, LLC, we have decades of combined experience fighting for individuals and families in local courts. We know the ins and outs of Pennsylvania law, and how to apply it to each unique case. It’s important for us to get to know you and meet your needs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help if you were hurt in a crash.
“Very thoughtful of my needs and my children’s needs. Very helpful with the entire situation. Without attorney Czekaj’s guidance, I feel like I would have been lost. Very grateful for his ability to adapt to my situation, especially with my daughter having severe autism and understanding me and her mother’s work schedule is very unusual.”
There were 128,420 reportable traffic accidents in Pennsylvania in 2018, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The crashes injured 78,219 people and killed 1,190. The fatality rate was 1.17 deaths per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled and was the second-lowest rate ever recorded since 1935. While it’s good that Pennsylvania experienced fewer traffic deaths in 2018, there are still far too many accidents, injuries, and fatalities. If you are someone affected by a car crash, don’t hesitate to get legal help.
Were you or your child injured in a crash with a school, public transit, or privately owned bus? Bus accidents are more complicated than standard collisions between private vehicles. If a school bus driver is at fault, then your claim might be against the school district that employed them. If a public transit bus caused the crash, then your claim is against a government agency. In both of these cases, the claim process differs from a traditional personal injury lawsuit, and there are shorter deadlines. Let us help you navigate a claim against a government entity.
Truck crashes also are more complicated than most car accidents. Both Pennsylvania and the federal government heavily regulate commercial trucks. It’s important to have a motor vehicle accident lawyer investigate the accident for violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, which can prove a truck driver or company’s negligence.
But it’s important to know that liability for a trucking accident can be complicated. The truck driver might be the person who did something wrong, but they might not be responsible for compensating you. Also, many other businesses are involved in manufacturing, maintaining, loading, and hauling a semi-truck from one location to the next, and any of these companies could be at fault.
One helpful aspect of truck accident cases, though, is the insurance coverage. Commercial trucks have higher minimums for liability insurance, which can help us win the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
If you were hurt while riding your motorcycle, give us a call today. We know all about the myths and stigma surrounding motorcycle riders and how they can be used against you during a claim for compensation. We’re the right legal team to guide you in filing a claim against a negligent driver and demanding fair compensation for your motorcycle crash injuries.
All too often, drivers don’t pay attention and end up crashing into someone trying to cross the street. If you hurt were in a vehicle-pedestrian collision, contact us right away. These accidents usually cause severe injuries and disabilities. You need a lawyer who will fight for you to receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, including your future medical expenses and lost earning potential.
Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Laws
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. If you’re hurt in a motor vehicle wreck, you’ll first turn to your own insurance company for coverage. But drivers also are required to carry insurance to cover damages they cause others. Depending on the extent of your injuries and your insurance coverage, you can file a lawsuit against the other driver. Talk with a PA motor vehicle lawyer about your options after a serious crash.
Pennsylvania drivers must have:
- Minimum $5,000 Medical Benefits: This covers medical bills for you and others covered by the policy no matter who caused the crash.
- Minimum $15,000/$30,000 Bodily Injury Liability: This insurance pays for other people’s medical and rehabilitation expenses if you cause a crash.
- Minimum $5,000 Property Damage Liability: This covers another person’s damaged or destroyed property in an accident you cause.
- Full or Limited Tort: Limited tort coverage means you can recover medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, but you can’t recover intangible damages like pain and suffering unless your injuries meet certain requirements. Full tort coverage means you retain the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party and recover all types of damages.
What Should I Expect During my Motor Vehicle Accident Case?
Consult a Lawyer
If you’re seriously injured in an automobile accident, talk with a lawyer about the best way to recover the most compensation possible. This includes in a first-party claim against your insurance coverage and a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. Your attorney also might recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit.
After a crash, it’s essential to gather as much evidence as possible. You shouldn’t assume you know what happened or why right away. Your lawyer will perform an investigation independent of an insurance company.
Send a Demand
Once you and your lawyer have a good understanding of what caused the crash and your injuries, you’ll send a demand letter. This letter alleges the other party is liable for your injuries and demands they pay you a certain amount of compensation. The letter gives the other party a period to pay the compensation or respond.
Prepare a Statement for Insurance
Insurance companies often want motor vehicle accident victims to provide a statement and answer questions. We recommend you don’t talk with an insurer too much before consulting a lawyer. Your attorney will prepare you if giving a statement’s necessary.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Many parties settle motor vehicle accident cases out of court, but they usually aren’t settled from the demand letter or initial negotiations. We often recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit to gather more information through discovery. Your willingness to go to court also shows the insurer you’re serious about your financial recovery.
We will use interrogatories (questions), requests for admissions, demands to produce documents, and depositions to learn more about the other parties involved, which could be the other driver, their employer, another vehicle owner, a maintenance provider, or a vehicle manufacturer. Discovery helps us build your case with more evidence. It also helps us identify weaknesses in your claim.
Once we complete discovery, we might use mediation to try to negotiate a fair settlement. Mediation is an out-of-court process. You can go through one or several sessions that a neutral third party oversees.
Settle or Go to Trial
We settle many of our personal injury cases. But an insurer isn’t always willing to agree to a fair settlement. When negotiations break down, we prepare to take your case to trial. Then, a jury will decide who caused the motor vehicle accident, whether you’re entitled to damages, and the amount of compensation.
If the jury decides in the defendant’s favor, we’ll review your case for a reason to appeal.
Proof in a Motor Vehicle Accident Case
If you claim someone else hurt you in a crash, then you have the burden of proof. It’s your job to show the insurer or jury that the other person’s negligence caused you serious harm. Because a personal injury claim is a civil issue, the standard of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. This is lower than the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt you see for criminal courts. By a preponderance of the evidence means it’s more likely than not that the defendant is to blame.
Types of Evidence in a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim
You can use various types of direct and circumstantial evidence to prove the defendant was negligent. Direct evidence proves a certain fact. Circumstantial evidence asks the jury to infer something is true. We’ll use both types of evidence during a personal injury lawsuit.
Common forms of evidence in motor vehicle accident cases include:
- A crash report
- Photos of damage to vehicles
- Photos of damage to surrounding property
- Video footage from dash cameras, traffic cameras, and nearby surveillance cameras
- A vehicle’s electronic data or event recorder’s information
- Medical records of your injuries
- Diagrams and models of your injuries
- Expert medical testimony
- Industry expert testimony
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony
- Diagrams and re-enactments of the crash
- Your testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
Res Ipsa Loquitor (Implied Negligence)
Sometimes a motor vehicle crash won’t provide a lot of direct evidence of another person’s fault. When this happens, we focus on circumstantial evidence. If we can provide enough evidence that it’s unlikely you’d have gotten hurt if someone weren’t negligent, then you might win under the theory of implied negligence.
Compensation in Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Medical Expenses: You can pursue compensation for your past and future out-of-pocket medical and rehabilitation costs.
- Lost Earnings: You can demand the defendant reimburses you for your past and future lost wages.
- Pain and Suffering: You can demand compensation for your pain and suffering related to your physical injuries.
- Mental Distress: You also can ask for compensation for other intangible damages, including emotional distress, mental anguish, depression, anxiety, grief, and other negative emotions and mental health conditions.
- Disability and Disfigurement: If you suffered a disability or disfigurement because of the accident, you can ask for additional compensation.
- Loss of Consortium: You can demand compensation for the harm the accident caused your relationship with your spouse.
- Property Damage: You can demand compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses to repair or replace your vehicle and other property.
- Punitive Damages: If you can establish the negligent party’s conduct was intentional, malicious, or reckless, then you can ask the court to grant punitive damages. These punish the wrongdoer instead of compensating you for a certain injury.
The compensation you receive depends on proving the type and severity of your physical, emotional, and economic injuries. We’ll focus on proving how serious your physical injuries are through medical records, expert medical testimony, diagrams and models, your testimony, and, if helpful, a day in the life video that shows your struggles. We’ll also establish what this accident has cost you through your medical bills and receipts for other out-of-pocket expenses.
The hardest damages to prove are your non-economic injuries, like pain and suffering. The better we establish your physical injuries and the harm the defendant caused you, the more we can demand. We might use a multiplier of the value of your economic injuries to arrive at a fair demand for compensation.
How Much is My Case Worth?
Your case is worth your past and future expenses arising from the crash and your injuries, and an amount for your non-economic damages. But every motor vehicle accident case is unique. Talk with a PA motor vehicle accident attorney about what your case might be worth.
Common Defenses in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases
Pursuing damages after a motor vehicle accident is tough when the other driver fights back. But with a lawyer on your side, you can anticipate common defenses to traffic accident cases.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Pennsylvania follows the theory of modified comparative negligence. This means the other driver might claim you were negligent too, and that’s why you got hurt. The insurer or jury will assign each party an amount of responsibility, then. As long as you are 50% or less responsible for the crash, you can receive compensation. But the insurer or jury will reduce your damages by your percentage of fault. If you’re 51% or more at fault, then you can’t get compensation.
Statute of Limitations
Pennsylvania gives crash victims two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you wait too long, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss. The court will have no choice but to dismiss your case.
Contact Czekaj Law, LLC for Help
Are you hurt and wondering what to do next? We’re here to help. If someone caused a motor vehicle accident and hurt you, let an attorney at Czekaj Law, LLC fight for your right to personal injury compensation. We represent accident victims in Perry, Juniata, Cumberland, Mifflin, Dauphin, Franklin, Snyder, Union, Northumberland, Huntington, and York Counties. Call us at (717) 275-9770. Or reach out by emailing email@example.com or filling out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.