Every year, more than a thousand people are killed in auto accidents in Pennsylvania, and between 80 and 100 times that many are injured. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the United States.
Motor vehicles are a necessary part of our modern world, but they are big, heavy machines that travel at significant speeds, operated by humans who can make mistakes. The mistakes can be very costly for the victims. While drivers are legally required to carry insurance to cover the costs of these mistakes, insurance companies are primarily looking out for their bottom line and will attempt to force the lowest settlement they can pull off.
Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyer
If you've been in an auto accident, don't settle for the lowball figure the insurance company offers you. An aggressive Philadelphia auto accident lawyer from Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC can help you recover an amount that better matches the true amount of your losses after an auto accident.
We are accomplished trial lawyers, so if the insurance company doesn't offer a settlement satisfactory to you, we have no fear of taking them to court. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to schedule a consultation.
We represent clients throughout the Philadelphia area and Pennsylvania, including in Chester County and Montgomery County. We can also represent clients in New Jersey.
Philadelphia Auto Accident Information Center
- Proving Negligence in Pennsylvania Auto Accidents
- Causes of Auto Accidents in Philadelphia
- Dealing with Insurance Companies in Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Damages You May Collect
Most auto accidents are the result of what is called, in legal terms, "negligence." Negligence means the liable party — the defendant — failed to act how they were supposed to act, and as a result of that failure, someone else — the plaintiff — was injured, physically, mentally and/or economically.
The plaintiff, who is the person who brings the lawsuit, has the burden of proof to show that his or her claim meets the four elements of negligence by preponderance of evidence. Preponderance of evidences means the plaintiff must show that, more likely than not, the events they say happened, happened.
The four elements are:
- Duty: The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty to act a certain way, usually as a "reasonable person," or in the case of auto accidents, a "reasonable driver."
- Breach: The plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to meet that duty, or breached the duty.
- Causation: The plaintiff must show that the breach of the duty was both the actual cause of their accidents and the legal cause, called "proximate cause."
- Damages: The plaintiff must show that he or she suffered damages as a result of the breach.
Auto accidents can be caused by any number of factors, but some sort of human error or misjudgment plays a role in most accidents, whether that accident be with another car, a motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian.
In many cases, the driver is breaking some kind of law. When a defendant breaks a law, it does not automatically make him or her responsible. But it does mean, if the plaintiff can prove the defendant broke the law and the injury was the type of injury the law was supposed to prevent, the defendant has committed "negligence per se." Negligence per se means that the defendant is presumed to have acted negligently.
For instance, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has laws against drunk driving. One of the primary purposes of these laws is to protect other drivers on the road. If a person drinks and drives, which is a dangerous thing to do, and that person cannot property control his or her vehicle, and causes a DUI accident, then that person has committed negligence per se.
Perhaps the most common laws that are broken by drivers are speeding laws. No coincidentally, speeding is one of, if not the most common cause of auto accidents. The fast drivers go, the less able they are to control their vehicle. Speed is also the most common predictor of how severe an accident will be.
Accidents can also be caused by distracted drivers. Pennsylvania has a law against texting while driving, which some studies have shown is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance pays for damages the covered driver is liable for. Insurance companies usually attempt to settle to avoid the cost of litigation. However, insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line, and they're not above bullying or lying to try to get you to accept a settlement much lower than the value of your damages.
They may tell you they've investigated your case and, due to some fault on your part, you won't recover anything if you go to court. In Pennsylvania, the plaintiff cannot be more than 50 percent to blame for an injury in order to recover for it. This is called "comparative negligence."
A Philadelphia personal injury lawyer from Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC can handle the negotiations with the insurance company. You get to make the decision of whether or not to accept a settlement. If the insurance company does not offer a satisfactory settlement, our attorneys can take them to court.
Sometime, a driver is not following the law and drives without insurance. If involved in an accident in which an uninsured driver or underinsured driver was at fault, you may have to seek to collect damages from your own insurance company.
If you are in a motorcycle accident in which you were the motorcyclist, you may suffer much worse injuries than you would if you were in an SUV. However, the plaintiff, if held liable, must pay for the full extent to which he or she is liable. Their damages may not be reduced because you were more vulnerable. This principle is sometimes called the "eggshell plaintiff" rule.
You can collect two types of compensatory damages, or damages meant to compensate you for your losses.
- Economic damages compensate you for tangible damages you've suffered, where you can present a bill or a receipt. These damages include hospital bills, physical therapy bills, lost wages, lost ability to work and damages to your vehicle or property.
- Noneconomic damages are the less tangible but very real damages you incur, like pain and suffering, disfigurement, and loss of life's pleasures.
In rare instances, you may also be able to recover punitive damages, meant to punish defendants for evil motives or reckless disregard.
Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC | Philadelphia Area Motor Vehicle Crash Attorney
If you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident anywhere in the Philadelphia area, including in Delaware County or Bucks County, you cannot count on an insurance company to offer you a fair settlement. An aggressive Philadelphia auto accident attorney from Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC can take them on for you. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to set up a consultation.