HARRISBURG CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS
Have you been injured in a car accident?
At Schmidt Kramer, we understand the devastating impact a car crash can have on your life, from the physical injuries and medical expenses to pain and suffering and lost wages.
Our award-winning Harrisburg car accident lawyers have helped victims of many types of auto accidents recover fair compensation to help them move on with their lives. We offer accident victims a free, no obligation consultation to determine their legal options. If we think you deserve compensation, we can pursue it on your behalf and will not charge you any fees unless we are successful.
Contact our Harrisburg car accident lawyers today by calling (888) 476-0807.
Common Types of Car Accident Cases
Our attorneys represent victims of many different types of car crashes that occur on Pennsylvania roadways. Some of the most common types of auto accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions – These accidents are often referred to as fender benders, but they can cause severe, long-term injuries like whiplash and back injuries. These often occur at stop signs and red lights because drivers are not paying attention or do not give themselves enough time to stop to avoid hitting the car in front of them.
- Multi-vehicle pileups – These are accidents involve multiple cars, often occurring on interstates and freeways when vehicles are traveling at high speed. It is often necessary for fire rescue to come to the scene to get victims out of their vehicles because the damage prevents them from opening their doors or windows.
- Head-on collisions – These are common in intersections, particularly when a car is making a left turn and hits another car traveling in the opposite direction. These are often the result of speeding or aggressive driving.
- Rollover accidents – This type of crash occurs when a vehicle rolls onto its side or roof. This often happens to large vehicles because they are tall and have a high center of gravity.
- Sideswipe collisions – These occur when the sides of two vehicles hit each other. Usually this happens to cars traveling in the same direction and the drivers do not lose control. However, if they lose control, they could potentially crash into another vehicle or a fixed object, resulting in significant injuries.
- Side-impact collisions – These occur when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another. This often happens in intersections when one car crashes into another that is traveling across the front of the first car. The driver and passenger of the car that gets hit could suffer severe injuries, even if the car has side-impact air bags and other safety features.
- Hit-and-run accidents – These happen when a driver flees the scene after colliding with another vehicle. It can be very complicated and difficult to obtain compensation after this type of accident, which is why you should strongly consider working with a Harrisburg car accident lawyer.
- Drunk-driving crashes – Drunk drivers can cause severe injuries because they are more likely to lose control of their vehicles, speed or engage in other forms of reckless driving.
- Distracted-driving crashes – There are many forms of distracted driving that can cause accidents, including texting and driving, talking on the phone while driving, changing radio stations, using a GPS navigation device, talking to other passengers and using social media.
- Drowsy-driving accidents – These include accidents where drivers are tired and lose focus on driving or fall asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving is particularly dangerous at night when it can be more difficult to see everything because it is dark.
Our Harrisburg auto accident lawyers are prepared to take on these and many other types of car crash cases. We are well-versed in the many aspects auto accident cases and know how to aggressively pursue the compensation our clients deserve.
Statute of Limitations for Auto Accident Cases
You should always file an insurance claim as soon as possible after a car accident. This is because your insurance company may have a deadline for submitting claims.
The other reason you should file right away is so your attorney will have enough time to pursue a lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement. This is because personal injury lawsuits, including those involving car accidents, are governed by a two-year statute of limitations (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 5524).
The statute says you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit within that time, you lose the right to do so.
Our Harrisburg car accident attorneys know how to manage an insurance claim while preparing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
Schedule a free consultation today to determine your legal options.
What to do After a Car Accident
The minutes and hours after a car accident are often scary and confusing for victims who may not know what to do first and how to protect their rights and well-being.
Car accident victims can help simplify the process and begin building a strong case by following these steps in the aftermath of any type of car accident:
1. Move to a Safe Place if Possible
This is particularly important if the accident happened on a freeway or interstate highway, as vehicles around you are traveling at high speeds and you do not want to get hit again by another car. If you are able to drive your car and it is safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road away from any oncoming traffic.
Make sure to turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers that your vehicle is stopped. If you have any cones or flares, put them behind your vehicle.
2. Get Help
If you or anyone else is hurt, even if it seems like a minor injury, call 9-1-1 so you can receive medical attention. Some car accident injuries cause minor or non-existent symptoms immediately after the crash, so it is best to be cautious and seek treatment immediately.
Immediately seeking medical help also helps build a case for why you deserve compensation. It helps to show this is a serious situation and link your injuries to the crash. If you wait to seek help, insurance companies and juries may be suspicious that you are just trying to get money and are not really hurt. This can make the insurance claims process much more difficult for you and your Harrisburg car accident lawyer.
When you call 9-1-1, the police will also be sent to the scene. The responding officer will assess the situation and create a police report, which will be a valuable piece of evidence when you pursue an injury claim against the other driver. It serves as an official record of what happened and will include the officer's thoughts on the crash, including who is at fault.
Once the police report has been filed, you can go online to obtain a copy of the crash report from the Pennsylvania State Police. You can also download an application to request a copy and mail it to the Pennsylvania State Police Crash Reports Unit.
State law gives certain people the right to obtain a copy of an accident report, including anyone involved in the crash, their attorney, insurers and other government agencies. This is stated in Section 3751 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
3. Gather Evidence
If you are physically able to do so and it will not endanger your safety, start collecting evidence about the accident while you are waiting for the police or an ambulance to arrive. This could include:
- A quick description of what occurred while it is fresh in your memory
- Pictures of visible injuries to you and anyone else in your vehicle
- Pictures of the damage to both vehicles
- Pictures of any damage to the road or surrounding area caused by the crash
- Contact information for any witnesses and their statements about what they saw
- Make and model of both vehicles
- Insurance information for the other driver
- Name of the other driver
Collecting evidence immediately after a car crash will help you and your Harrisburg car accident attorney build a strong case as you pursue fair compensation. Waiting to collect evidence could make it more difficult to prove what happened because after you leave the scene, things will be cleaned up and repaired and you may lose the opportunity to get accurate pictures.
4. File an Insurance Claim
Auto accident victims should always file an insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident. This not only helps establish the seriousness of your claim with the insurance company, it also helps ensure you do not pass any deadlines for filing a claim.
If you wait to file, it may cause the insurance company to think you are exaggerating the severity of your injuries and are just trying to get money. Unfortunately, the insurance company is not on your side when it comes to obtaining fair compensation. That is why you have to take steps to build a strong case.
This includes watching what you say to the insurance company when you report the accident. Explain the basic facts about the accident, including the date, time and location of the accident. If you received medical treatment at the accident scene or at a hospital, say that. However, do not reveal the specifics about your injury or the amount of pain you are feeling. The insurance company can get that information from your medical records.
If you reveal too much information you could hurt your chances of obtaining fair compensation. You could unintentionally give your opinion about the severity of your injuries or say something that makes the insurance company think you are partially at fault.
You should also think about contacting a car accident lawyer in Harrisburg for a free legal consultation. A lawyer can review your situation to determine if he or she can help you pursue the compensation you are entitled.
Contact a Harrisburg auto accident attorney right now. (888) 476-0807
How Can an Attorney Help Me After an Accident?
Car accident victims often do not realize the many ways an attorney can help them obtain fair compensation. This includes:
Investigating the Accident
We will carefully review all of the information you provide about the accident and your injuries to start building a case for why you are entitled to compensation. We will also investigate further by revisiting the scene of the crash. If there are any cameras in the area that may have footage of the crash we will request this footage.
Additionally, we will request your medical records and review them to determine the full value of your claim. Medical records include:
- Test results
- Imaging from MRIs and x-rays
- Copies of prescriptions
- Notes from the doctor who first examined you
- Reports from specialists
We want you to not only have compensation for medical bills and lost wages, but also non-economic forms of compensation, like pain and suffering and loss of companionship. If necessary, we can consult medical experts to determine the full scope of your injuries and how they will affect you.
Talking to the Insurance Company on Your Behalf
Our car accident lawyers in Harrisburg have many years of combined experience dealing with insurance companies. We know how to defend your best interests throughout the process.
Once you report the accident, we are prepared to deal with the insurance company from that point forward. We will provide the insurer with all of the information they need to handle your claim, such as medical records and the police report.
The insurer may ask for you to make a recorded statement or sign a statement about what happened in the accident. We will carefully review these requests and will not recommend agreeing unless we think it is in your best interest.
We can also handle all settlement negotiations. We will carefully evaluate your claim to determine a fair amount of compensation for your damages so we know what an acceptable offer would look like.
Explaining How You Can Help
The Harrisburg car accident attorneys at Schmidt Kramer pride ourselves on quickly responding to our clients and keeping them updated on what is happening with their claims.
We will also tell you what you can do to support your claim. For example, we will remind you to go to all of your doctor's appointments and follow through on all recommended treatments. Many car insurance claims fall apart simply because victims do not continue their treatment.
Our Harrisburg auto accident lawyers often recommend keeping a journal about your injuries, how they are affecting you and how you are responding to medical treatment. For instance, victims can describe the physical and emotional pain and suffering they are experiencing, and how it is affecting their relationship with their spouse. You should also note if you have lost enjoyment of your life because of the injury.
You should also keep a record of dates and times you missed work because of your injuries. This will help us as we pursue compensation for lost wages.
Filing a Lawsuit if Necessary
When selecting an attorney, you should search for one who takes cases to court when necessary. Even though most car accident cases are resolved through insurance claims, sometimes it is necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain fair compensation.
The car accident attorneys in Harrisburg at Schmidt Kramer have courtroom experience and know what it takes to obtain the compensation our clients deserve. We have no problem rejecting lowball offers from the insurance company because we are prepared to go to court.
In some cases, simply dealing with an attorney with courtroom experience will cause an insurance company to make a better offer.
Contact our car accident lawyers in Harrisburg to learn more about how we can help you.
Car Insurance Requirements in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania's no-fault insurance laws, car accident victims must first seek compensation from their own insurance policy, even if they are not at fault for the crash.
This is why Pennsylvania requires all drivers to purchase medical benefits coverage with their car insurance. This provides compensation for medical bills for treating your injuries. Drivers must purchase a minimum of $5,000 in coverage. This provides coverage for necessary medical treatment and rehabilitative services, including the following types of services, according to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 1712(1):
- Licensed physical therapy
- Nursing services
- Vocational rehabilitation and occupational therapy
- Speech pathology and audiology
- Optometric services
- Medical supplies and prosthetic devices
Drivers must also purchase the following car insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability – Drivers must purchase a minimum of $15,000 in coverage for injuries to another driver. You must also have at least $30,000 in coverage for injury or death of more than one person in an accident.
- Property damage – You must purchase a minimum of $5,000 for property damage suffered by the other driver.
There are other optional coverages you can purchase to obtain compensation after a car accident, including:
- Collision – This pays for damage to your car caused by an accident with another vehicle. Pennsylvania law does not require this coverage, but many drivers have it because their lenders required them to purchase it to obtain a loan on their vehicle.
- Income loss – This covers 80 percent of gross income you lost when your accident injuries prevented you from working.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist – This provides coverage if you are in an accident with a driver who has no insurance or lacks enough coverage to pay for all the medical expenses you suffered. This does not provide coverage for property damage. This coverage often provides compensation after a hit-and-run accident.
Full Tort Vs. Limited Tort Coverage
When you purchase your car insurance, you must choose between full or limited tort coverage. Your choice will determine your ability to file a lawsuit over your car accident damages.
Limited Tort Coverage
Limited tort coverage is often cheaper than full tort coverage, but if you choose this option you are waiving the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for pain and suffering.
The only exception to this is if you suffer an injury that meets the definition of a serious injury. Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 75 Chapter 17 Subchapter A Sec. 1702, a serious injury is one that results in death or serious disfigurement or impairment of a body function.
You still have the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical expenses and other out-of-pocket expenses, just not pain and suffering.
If you chose limited tort coverage, our car accident lawyers in Harrisburg will review your injury to determine if you may still be able to file a lawsuit. Our goal is to pursue all the compensation you deserve, and sometimes pain and suffering can be worth just as much or more than other expenses.
Full Tort Coverage
If you chose this option, you have an unlimited right to sue for all damages you suffered, no matter how severe your injuries are. This is a huge advantage, even though this coverage will likely increase the cost of your premiums.
Our auto accident attorneys in Harrisburg can review your legal options after a car accident. It may not be necessary to file a lawsuit to recover fair compensation, but if it is an option, we are fully prepared to pursue it.
Contact an attorney today for a free, no obligation legal consultation.
What You Need to Prove in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you file a lawsuit over your car accident injuries, you will need to establish the four elements of negligence to recover compensation:
Duty of Care
The duty of care is a legal requirement that a person take reasonable steps to prevent another person from suffering harm. The definition of reasonable steps depends on the situation. For example, it is reasonable to expect drivers to obey traffic laws and not engage in distracted driving or other forms of reckless driving. This creates an unreasonable risk of other drivers on the road getting injured.
A Harrisburg car accident lawyer can carefully review your situation to determine the duty of care that existed during your accident.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once we establish there was a duty of care, we need to provide evidence that it was violated. For example, a violation of a traffic law could serve as strong proof that a duty of care was violated. If the traffic violation is noted in the police report we may have a much easier time proving a breach of duty of care.
Your car accident lawyer in Harrisburg also needs to establish a direct link between the breach of duty of care and your injuries. This means you need to show you would not have suffered injuries if the other driver upheld the duty of care.
For example, if you were struck by another driver who ran through a stop sign, it would show the other driver breached his or her duty of care to safely operate a motor vehicle and follow traffic laws.
Attorneys for the other side often try to argue the victim's injuries were a result of a pre-existing medical condition or something else besides the accident. This is why we will try to obtain your medical records from before the accident to disprove these claims.
We will also need to present evidence that shows you suffered economic damages, such as financial losses, because of your injuries. Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Lost earning capacity
Generally, economic damages are referred to as “measurable damages” because they are quantifiable by using your medical bills, receipts and pay stubs to show the exact costs of your financial losses.
However, some victims may be entitled to receive non-economic compensation, which do not have a monetary value associated with them and are not easily measured, such as pain and suffering. We will need to present various pieces of evidence to establish these types of damages, including pictures, medical records, and written accounts from you and your family.
The car accident attorneys in Harrisburg at our firm have many years of combined experience in the courtroom pursuing justice for our clients. We know how to build a strong case and aggressively pursue fair compensation.
What if I am Partially At-Fault for the Accident?
There are often cases where accident victims were partially at fault for their injuries. For example, you may have violated a traffic law just before you were hit by a reckless driver. Even though the other driver is the one who is most at fault, you still have some amount of responsibility for what happened.
These situations are governed by Pennsylvania's comparative negligence law (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 7102). Under this law, you are barred from recovering compensation in a personal injury claim if you are found to be 51 percent or more at fault for the accident.
If you are less than 51 percent responsible, you can still recover compensation but it will be reduced according to your percentage of fault. This means if you were awarded $100,000 in compensation, but were found to be 40 percent at fault for the accident, your award will be reduced to $60,000.
If there are more than two parties involved in the accident they will be financially liable for damages according to their percentage of fault. For example, if you were in a multi-car pileup and one of the drivers was 40 percent responsible, he or she would be responsible for 40 percent of your damages. If another driver was 20 percent responsible, he or she would be responsible for 20 percent of your damages.
Pennsylvania's comparative negligence law is also applied in insurance claims. Insurance companies do not want to pay more than they have to, so they will do whatever they can to reduce your compensation award.
This is one of the reasons you should strongly consider working with our Harrisburg car accident attorneys on your claim. We know how to carefully investigate your accident to determine your percentage of fault. We do not want you to be assigned more fault than you deserve for the crash.
Schedule a free consultation today by calling (888) 476-0807.
Contact Our Harrisburg Car Accident Lawyers
If you were injured in a car accident, our attorneys can answer your questions and inform you of your rights. We may be able to help you pursue the compensation you are entitled for all your damages.
We take cases on contingency so there is no charge unless you receive compensation. We also offer a free, no obligation consultation to discuss the accident.
We know compensation cannot change what happened, but we have seen how it can help victims begin to move forward and manage the effects of their injuries.
Learn more about your legal options by contacting one of our reputable attorneys.