In order to recover damages after an accident, your lawyer will help you prove that it was a case of negligence.
If you are injured in an accident in the state of Pennsylvania and want to recover damages you will have to prove that your injuries and subsequent losses were caused by someone’s negligence. No matter if it was a car accident, truck or motorcycle accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice or defective product, you will have to file a personal injury claim. For small claims, you can do without legal representation, but if you have sustained serious injuries and need a lot of money, you should talk to a knowledgeable Pennsylvania accident lawyer before you contact your insurer.
How is negligence proved in Pennsylvania?
In order to recover damages after an accident, your lawyer will help you prove that it was a case of negligence. There are four elements that need to be established:
Duty – You need to show that those responsible for the accident had a duty to ensure the safety of others. For instance, a driver must obey road rules to ensure the safety of others. Or the owner of a store has a duty to observe safety precautions so that their customers are safe.
Breach – At this point, a Philadelphia accident lawyer will have to explain in what way the duty of care was breached. A driver who hits the road while intoxicated is failing in their duty of care for the safety of others, for instance.
Causation – You need to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident. This might be self-evident to you, but when you deal with the insurance adjuster or if you go to court, you need hard proof. This is why it is so important to see a doctor right after an accident even if at that moment you don’t think you were badly injured. Keep in mind that the insurance adjuster or the lawyers representing the party at fault may claim that you had a preexisting condition and your health issues have nothing to do with the accident itself.
Damages – At this stage, your lawyer will help you put an estimate on the damages the accident caused you. You can claim economic damages, such as medical expenses, property damage or lost wages, past and future. Also, you are entitled to get non-economic damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering.
Do you need to sue after an accident in Pennsylvania?
Not necessarily. If you are injured in an accident you will first make a personal injury claim. If you don’t have a lawyer watching out for you, the insurance company may try to lowball you by offering you a small settlement, just a fraction of what you deserve. If you were in a car accident, they may try to pin most of the blame on you. Pennsylvania uses the modified comparative fault rule, according to which you can recover damages even if you were partly to blame for the crash. Maybe you were 10% to blame for what happened, but you can bet the insurance adjuster will try to prove your percentage of blame was around 40% and your damages will be reduced accordingly.
If the negotiations with the insurer fail, your lawyer will recommend filing a lawsuit to get the damages you deserve.