Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys
If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident in Philadelphia or the Surrounding Counties, Let Us Help You Seek Justice.
Obtaining a Driver’s License and having the privilege of driving a vehicle is a rite of passage for many people. While this is considered one of the first steps into adulthood, the freedom driving affords comes with a great deal of responsibility. While driving figures prominently into many peoples’ day-to-day lives for many years, there are risks associated with driving that cannot be overlooked.
Car Accidents in Pennsylvania.
Whether you are a driver or a passenger, there is always a danger that comes along with being on the road. Today, the average passenger vehicle weighs over two (2) tons1, may carry upwards of 24 gallons of gasoline,2 and, in Pennsylvania, lawfully drive at up to 70 miles per hour.3 This combination of factors means that driving is inherently dangerous and even the most-cautious drivers under the best of circumstances can find themselves in an accident through no fault of their own.
- In 2020, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were 104,472 reportable motor vehicle crashes on the Commonwealth’s roads, resulting in 1,129 deaths and 4,425 people with serious injuries.4
- 68% of all of those crashes and fatal crashes were due to driver error.5
- Over 11,000 crashes were caused by distracted drivers (e.g., texting, eating, grooming, talking to passenger, talking on cell phone).6
- In 2020, 294 fatal crashes were alcohol-related and 269 were speed-related.7
- Interestingly, 74% of all crashes and 81% of fatal ones took place on dry pavement with no adverse conditions.8
Vehicle accidents are a common occurrence. The experienced car accident attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg have seen it all, and in our decades of service have handled car accident cases of all types.
1, 2 Source: J.D. Power.
3 Source: IIHS
4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Source: PENNDOT.
Limited Tort or Full Tort: A Critical Decision.
In 1990, Pennsylvania enacted the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law which established a “limited tort” car insurance system. This is similar to New Jersey’s “no-fault” system with the “verbal threshold.” What this means is that, when you obtain car insurance in the Commonwealth, you must choose one of two types of coverage: “limited tort” or “full tort.”9
The purpose of this system is to provide an option for Pennsylvania drivers to trade their right to sue for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering in most cases, for lower premiums. This is the “limited tort” option. If, however, a driver does not want to give up the right to sue for non-economic damages, they may choose the “full tort” option in exchange for a higher premium. Due to this system, recoveries in Pennsylvania may be complicated. It is important to have attorneys on your side that understand Pennsylvania’s system and know how to navigate through it.
Some drivers do not understand the implications of the the two options when they purchase their auto insurance. Further, the potential effects of their choice may not have been sufficiently explained to them. Although it saves money on annual insurance rates, it can be very expensive in the event of an accident.
A motorist who has chosen the limited tort option on their insurance would only be unrestricted to recover noneconomic damages after an accident if the person at fault for the accident:
- is convicted or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance in that accident;
- is operating a motor vehicle registered in another state;
- intends to injure himself or another person…; or
- has not maintained financial responsibility as required…10
There are other exceptions to the bar to recovery, however, so it is best to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.
If none of these exceptions apply a driver with limited tort coverage may still be able to recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering if they suffer a “serious injury” which is defined as “A personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”11 Demonstrating that a “serious injury” under this definition has been sustained is sometimes difficult and requires professional, objective medical evidence. This is where the attorneys of Petrillo & Goldberg Law can be of assistance. In fact, most of our vehicle negligence claims involve this type of case.
9, 10 75 Pa. C.S. §1705.
11 75 Pa. C.S. §1702.
New Jersey’s “Deemer Statute” Can Limit a Pennsylvania Driver’s Recovery.
There are issues that can arise which may limit your recovery depending on where a Pennsylvania driver is involved in a crash.
If a Pennsylvania driver with full tort insurance is in an accident in Pennsylvania, they can, as set forth above, sue for non-economic damages. However, if that same driver with full tort insurance has an accident in New Jersey, New Jersey’s “Deemer Statute” can cause them to be treated as if they had limited tort insurance.12 The Deemer Statue is applicable to insured drivers whose insurance provider is authorized to conduct business in New Jersey. That is, if a Pennsylvania driver’s insurance company also writes policies in New Jersey, the Deemer Statute can cause the driver to be treated as if they had New Jersey’s verbal threshold, the equivalent of Pennsylvania’s limited tort coverage.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is critical to have a firm like Petrillo & Goldberg Law which understands and practices extensively in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey and can guide you through the minefield of different state laws.
Comparative Negligence & Obtaining Damages.
Pennsylvania uses a law known as “comparative negligence” which can reduce or even eliminate your recovery for a car accident.13 Pennsylvania uses a “51% rule” which means that as long as the victim or claimant is less than 51% to blame for the accident, they can recover damages. This means that if, for example, the injured party was found to be 25% liable for the accident, they can still recover 75% of the value of the awarded damages. However, if the victim is found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident, they will not receive any damages.
Due to Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, in a car accident, you must prove the person who hit you was at least 50% responsible for the accident to obtain damages – perhaps you can show the driver was operating their car recklessly or over the speed limit. If you show the driver is liable, the driver’s employer is also liable. In negligence cases, you cannot recover compensation if your fault caused over 51% of the accident. If your fault is 50% or less, it reduces the amount of your recovery.
“I didn’t understand the [comparative negligence] law. I originally thought I wouldn’t be able to win my Philadelphia accident case. [Petrillo & Goldberg] explained it to me and I actually got 90% of the damages we sued for. They were tough and knowledgeable…Thank you for helping me get justice.”
Petrillo & Goldberg’s attorneys can help you understand the potential implications of the comparative negligence law in your case and maximize your recovery.
12 N.J.S.A 17:28-1.4.
13 42 Pa. C.S. §7102.
OUR TEAM APPROACH: YOUR ADVANTAGE.
Our Team Works Together
At Petrillo & Goldberg Law we have a unique team approach to every case. Our attorneys work together, with each lawyer handling one part of the litigation process for our clients. This means that when our firm takes a case, a different attorney will handle each stage of your representation, such as pre-litigation development, deposition, or trial.
This approach gives every one of our clients the advantage of the total pool of our attorneys’ knowledge and years of experience as well as their individual talents. Our team-based method is efficient and highly successful, and it sets our firm apart from the others.
A Trusted Personal Injury Firm.
This method also allows our lawyers to give each car accident case our full attention. When dealing with an automotive accident, attention to detail is particularly important. There are considerations such as crash damage to vehicles and other property, proper investigation of claims, ascertainment of available insurance coverage, and proper medical evidence necessary to prove a limited tort claim.
Our team approach method is different from the way other practices do things and that is exactly how we like it. It was developed and perfected here by our attorneys. Further, we are one of the most trusted firms by other lawyers in the Delaware Valley, serving as referral counsel for vehicle accident and other claims to more than twenty regional law firms.
When to Contact an Attorney After a Vehicle Accident.
If you have been involved in an accident with a negligent, reckless, or intoxicated driver, contact the team at Petrillo & Goldberg Law without delay. We have offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and South Jersey and are available to discuss the details of your case and your rights.
At Petrillo & Goldberg Law you are never just a number or a name on a case file. You are a real person with a right to justice. Allow us to help you heal after your accident by taking care of your case. We want to know you, work for you, and win for you.