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What to Expect in a Car Accident Lawsuit

By: Anapol Weiss

A car accident can disrupt your life when you least expect it. You may not know how to successfully recover compensation for your damages in the aftermath of a serious collision. If you suffered serious or disabling injuries, for example, an insurance claim alone may not lead to adequate coverage. You may need to take your claim to court and prove the other party’s fault to obtain a fair compensatory award.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

If you believe you have grounds to file a lawsuit outside of Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance system, hire a Philadelphia car accident lawyer to help you with the steps to come. Bringing and winning a car accident lawsuit can be difficult as an injured victim. Someone with legal knowledge can help you with each step of the claims process, from determining the cause of your vehicle collision to fighting for maximum financial recovery. Hire a lawyer with experience and skill from the beginning for the most successful claim possible.

Identify the Defendant

One of the first steps toward bringing a car accident lawsuit is to determine the identity of the defendant, or the party you are claiming is at fault for your damages. The defendant will be the person or entity most responsible for your losses. This could be an at-fault driver, a product manufacturer, an automaker, the City of Philadelphia, a property owner, a company and/or another party. You or your lawyer will need to identify the defendant and serve him or her with the claim by the state’s deadline.

File By the Deadline

A car accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania has specific deadlines you must meet as a claimant. The legal term is the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date your car accident occurred to bring a claim against the defendant. Although rare exceptions exist, for the most part, filing more than two years after will bar you from financial recovery. An attorney can help you understand your exact deadline to file and help you meet it through efficient legal services.

Negotiate a Settlement or Go to Court

At this point in your lawsuit, you will either be able to negotiate a fair settlement from the defendant or proceed to a court trial. Your attorney can try to convince the insurance company to offer a reasonable settlement for your damages during arbitration. If this fails, however, your lawyer can take your claim to court in Philadelphia for better results. An attorney can present your car accident case to a judge and/or jury in pursuit of a positive outcome.

Prove Fault

Many things can cause an automobile accident in Philadelphia: driver error, vehicle malfunctions, a roadway defect or bad weather. Proving someone else’s fault for your wreck is one of the main tasks you will have during a car accident lawsuit. It will be up to you or your personal injury lawyer to prove the defendant’s fault for your collision and claimed damages. Establishing another party’s liability typically requires proof of four main elements.

  1. Duty of care. The driver (or another party) owed you duties of care according to state law, such as the duty not to cause an accident.

  1. Breach. The defendant negligently or recklessly breached the duty of care in a way that a reasonable and prudent person would not have.

  1. Causation. The defendant’s actions caused your car accident. The crash would not have occurred but for the defendant’s breach of duty.

  1. Damages. The defendant’s breach of duty caused damages, such as personal injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

Proving fault is critical during a car accident lawsuit. If you cannot convince a judge or jury that the defendant’s actions more likely than not caused your damages, you will not win a judgment award. A lawyer can help you meet the burden of proof through clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s fault. Your lawyer can walk you through all the steps it takes to obtain compensation while you concentrate on recovery.