Who was at fault for causing the car accident and what percentage of fault lies with each party is a hotly contested issue, because the percentage you are at fault for the accident determines the percentage of your damages you can recover from the other parties. A wrong fault determination can cause you thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if you were seriously injured, a wrong fault determination can bankrupt you.
In this comprehensive article, the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny explain how comparative fault works in Pennsylvania and what you can do to help prove you were not at fault in a car crash.
If you were in a car accident in PA, call the car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny for help. We will discuss your case with you and tell you what your car accident case is worth, free of charge!
What You Must Prove to Receive Compensation for Your Injuries
A car accident case is a particular form of personal injury case. In order to get compensation for your injuries in a personal injury case, you must show that the other parties involved owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused your damages.
In a car accident case, you must show the other party or parties failed to act as reasonable drivers would have acted under the circumstances, causing the accident and your damages.
Is Pennsylvania an At-Fault or No-Fault State?
Pennsylvania is a comparative fault state, meaning that in general, compensation for damages from a car crash is reduced by the percentage you were at fault for causing the accident. In PA, any party more than 50% at fault for causing the car accident cannot recover damages from other parties.
If a Pennsylvania driver chooses to purchase no-fault car insurance, that driver must look to his insurance company first for compensation. Under certain circumstances, that driver can also pursue other parties to the accident for compensation.
Speak to the experienced car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny if you have no-fault insurance in PA and your own insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your damages from a car accident. We may be able to help, and we will discuss your options at no charge to you.
8 Ways to Prove You Were Not at Fault in a Car Crash
There are ways you can help your car accident lawyer show that you were not at fault for causing the car crash, or to minimize your percentage of fault.
1. Call 911
Even if you do not believe you were injured, it is vital that you call 911 when you are in a car crash. This way, police will arrive and generate a police report you can later use as evidence, and they may issue a citation if fault is apparent.
More importantly, many injuries from car accidents are not immediately noticeable, especially head and spine trauma and internal bleeding. When emergency medical services arrive at the scene, explain what happened to you during the car accident so they know what to check for and can determine whether you need to go to the hospital for scans and tests.
2. Take photos and evidence of the crash
Smartphones allow people to take photos of the scene, the vehicles involved, the vehicles’ license plates, the damage to vehicles, their own and other’s injuries, and the weather and road conditions. Take advantage of this to preserve evidence of the scene and damages.
3. Exchange Contact Information
If you are able, exchange contact information and insurance information with the other parties involved in the accident so you know everyone who was involved. The police report should have this information but it is better to have back up just in case.
4. Get Witness Contact Information
If bystanders saw the accident, get their name and cell phone number in case you need their account of how the accident happened in the future.
5. Don’t Admit Fault to Anyone
Whenever a car accident happens, it is important to refrain from admitting fault to anyone there or to anyone, including insurance companies, who contacts you thereafter. When you speak with the police, be truthful and feel free to say things like, “I was sitting at the stop light and someone rammed me from behind” or “I was driving along at the speed limit in my lane and someone came into my lane trying to cut me off and I had nowhere to go.”
6. Obtain the Police Report
Ask the officers at the scene when the police report will be ready and where you can pick it up, and be sure to get a copy. If any of the information in the police report was incorrect, such as assumptions regarding fault for the car accident, point this out to your attorney.
7. No Doubt Liabilities
There are circumstances where fault is not in doubt, such as:
- Running a stoplight or stop sign
- Failing to yield where indicated
- Rear-ending another vehicle
Other reckless or negligent conduct such as exceeding the speed limit, tailgating, failing to use turn signals when turning or changing lanes, driving faster than road or weather conditions permit, or failing to maintain the vehicle in good working order such as when brakes fail can also indicate fault.
If the police issued a citation or citations at the scene or arrested any other party involved in the car accident, for example, for driving under the influence, driving a stolen car, driving while license suspended, or underage or unlicensed driving, this may also influence the fault finding.
8. Work with a Car Accident Attorney
Last, it is vital you consult an experienced car accident lawyer in your jurisdiction to ensure that the fault determination is correct, your damages are accurately assessed, and you receive all of the compensation you are due.
Get Help from Our Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers
If you suffered an injury in a car accident in Philadelphia, your first order of business is to get the medical attention you need. Next, call the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny for help. We only take car accident cases on contingency, meaning that we do not get paid unless and until you do and there are no initial legal expenses for you.
Take care of yourself after your car accident, and let us take care of getting you the compensation you deserve. At Cousin Benny, we treat you like family. Call today to discuss your case.