Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are a simple fact of life, but that does not mean car accident cases are easy to deal with. On the contrary, after a wreck, you could face hours and hours of arguing over who caused it, negotiating with insurance companies, and waiting for the mechanic to repair your vehicle. You may also have severe injuries and significant medical expenses.
All of these post-accident issues are stressful, to say the least, but there is good news. When you hire our firm, an Erie, PA, car accident lawyer from Berger and Green will handle the stress of filing a car accident claim or lawsuit while you focus on recovering. We have over four decades of personal injury case experience we can put behind getting the financial awards you need and deserve.
Car Accident Claims in Pennsylvania
For most people, the process of filing an accident claim in Erie County, PA, is overwhelming and stressful. One reason that people find these claims difficult is that Pennsylvania’s insurance laws can be confusing.
Pennsylvania follows a “choice” no-fault insurance model. Under this system, drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP pays for medical bills and lost wages up to the policy limits, regardless of who caused the auto accident. You can recover the remainder of your damages from the negligent party that caused your collision.
Between both sources of insurance, you can recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, decreased income earning capacity (for example, if you must take a less demanding and lower-paying job after your accident), damage to your vehicle and personal property, and other economic losses.
If you have full tort coverage or a serious injury, you are also entitled to compensation for your physical pain, emotional suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other non-economic damages. If you have only limited tort coverage, you will not automatically qualify for pain and suffering damages. Still, our Pennsylvania auto accident lawyers may be able to recover this type of award for you if you fall into a specific exception.
The legal team at Berger in Green has over 40 years of experience navigating through the available coverage and identifying potential applicable sources of insurance compensation. Our attorneys can explore all of your options for seeking awards.
For a free legal consultation with a Car Accident lawyer serving Erie, call 412-661-1400
Do I Need to Hire an Erie Car Accident Attorney?
When you speak with an insurance company representative, they will do their best to convince you that the claims process is simple. They will try to convince you that you do not need to hire an attorney because the insurer will take care of everything. Do not be fooled—insurance companies are generally acting in their best interest.
Consider your automobile insurance policy: pages and pages with fine print and exceptions to coverage. It is not simple. Worst of all, the insurance company’s bottom line is saving the company money. That means a smaller financial award for you.
How will you know if the settlement amount the insurer offers you is fair? What if the amount it quotes you is much less than you deserve and much less than other, well-prepared people receive?
The car accident lawyers at Berger and Green know what amounts are fair. We will not stop fighting until you receive the full compensation that you deserve. While it is possible to navigate the complicated insurance claims process on your own, it can be exceedingly difficult, and you might make a mistake that jeopardizes your claim. We can stand by your side, protect your rights, and fight for the maximum compensation possible.
How Much Will a Personal Injury Attorney Charge?
When you choose Berger and Green, one of our personal injury lawyers will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means our firm will absorb all the costs of preparing and filing your case.
You will pay nothing upfront and incur no out-of-pocket expenses at all. Instead, we receive a percentage of your settlement or verdict in place of traditional attorney’s fees or retainers.
A contingency fee agreement can be a beneficial arrangement when your accident-related medical bills are accruing at the same time that your injuries prevent you from working. We want to avoid causing you any further financial harm when you come to our firm for support.
Erie Car Accident Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Prove the Cause of a Car Accident?
To establish your right to seek damages from the at-fault driver, our lawyers will prove that their actions were negligent and led to your car crash. The four legally required elements of negligence include:
- Duty of care. All drivers have an obligation to operate their vehicles safely and avoid hurting others.
- Breach of duty. Drivers breach the duty of care when they break traffic laws or drive carelessly, recklessly, or dangerously.
- Cause of injuries. Our attorneys will construct a case linking the driver’s actions to your collision. For example, we will prove that a driver ran a red light and hit your vehicle because they were driving while intoxicated.
- Cause of damages. We will prove that the accident led to economic and non-economic damages.
Our lawyers will investigate your car accident and collect evidence that proves these elements.
What Evidence Will a Car Accident Lawyer Collect?
After an accident, you need time to focus on your physical recovery. While you do, our attorneys can begin the evidence-collection process. Doing so can ensure your case is on track and does not compromise the statute of limitations.
Evidence collection can include:
- The official car accident report
- Medical records and bills
- Written future prognosis
- Estimates regarding future medical costs
- Salary history records
- Accident scene photos
- Injury photos
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
The evidence in your case will help us prove the cause and cost of the accident and help us steer your case toward a settlement versus a trial. It will also ensure your case receives an accurate financial valuation prior to the beginning of settlement negotiations.
Why Is My Car Accident Report So Important?
The report you filed with local police after an accident is important for many reasons. For example, it will capture the details of the accident, which can help you avoid having the facts of your case misconstrued.
It will also tell our legal team how to contact:
- The at-fault driver
- Their insurance company
- Accident witnesses
- The investigating police officer
It will also indicate any factors that may have led to the accident, including distractions, drug or alcohol involvement, and road and weather conditions. Because it is dated, it will help us understand and comply with the statute of limitations, as well.
When Should I File My Car Accident Claim?
Typically, you want to file your claim as soon as possible after an accident. This provides you with enough time to gather evidence and make your case the best it can be.
The absolute latest you can file your lawsuit is with Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations, outlined in Pa. C.S.A. § 5524. If you wait until after this two-year time period has expired, the court will throw out your case. It will also reduce your insurance bargaining power. If the insurance company knows you cannot sue, it removes any legal leverage you may have when seeking a claim for compensation.
If your loved one suffered a fatal car accident injury, you have two years from the date of the wreck to pursue a survival action to collect damages incurred from the time of injury until their passing. You have two years from their date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you lost a family member, our attorneys can tell you more.
We know that you are busy, especially after an accident, but it is imperative that you do not delay when planning to file a claim. If you file sooner rather than later, the benefits include:
- Your memories and recollections of the accident are still fresh in your mind.
- The memories and recollections of eyewitnesses, police officers, or other emergency responders at the scene are also still fresh.
- You are less likely to miss the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Important evidence—such as damage to vehicles, roads, and highway railings—is likely still available. For example, skid marks on the pavement indicating breaking patterns of the drivers will not remain on the road indefinitely.
- You could receive your compensation sooner than if you wait to file.
Remember, even after you take the first step and speak with our Erie car accident attorneys, it will take some time to build and file your claim. Do not wait until the last minute.
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How Much Compensation Can I Recover for a Car Accident?
Although every case is different, under Pennsylvania law, everyone must have the same minimum automobile insurance coverage. This minimum coverage includes:
- Medical Benefits (PIP) of $5,000: Because Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, regardless of who was at fault, you qualify for at least $5,000 in coverage for your medical bills from your own insurer.
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident: If you are able to prove the other driver was at fault, you can recover up to $15,000 (or more if their policy is higher or there is more than one hurt party) for your injuries.
- Property Damage Liability (PDL) of $5,000: If the other driver was at fault, you can recover up to $5,000 for your property damage.
Of course, these are only the minimum amounts of coverage drivers must carry. The compensation you can expect after a serious accident will depend on the specifics of your case. Actual awards could be much higher based on your damages.
How Long Will It Take to Get a Settlement?
No one can tell you exactly how long it will take to resolve your case. When a personal injury lawyer from our firm represents you, they work hard to resolve your case in a timely manner. The timeline for settling your case will depend on how long it takes to:
- Investigate the cause
- Identify the at-fault driver
- Prove the accident’s costs
- Assign a value to your case
- Negotiate with the insurer
- Pursue your case in civil court if necessary
The lawyer who represents you will explain the anticipated timeline. They will also explain the importance of being patient to ensure your case is accurately valued before settlement talks even begin.
Berger and Green Can Help
The Erie, PA, car accident lawyers at Berger and Green are here to help you fight the liable party for damages, including negotiating with their insurance company. We can help you seek full and fair compensation for your car accident without the hassle and stress of dealing with the insurance company on your own.
Contact us today to find out more during a complimentary consultation.