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Motor Vehicle and Car Accident FAQs

It’s important for injury victims to stay informed about about the law. It’s best to do research on how to pursue your accident claim. After being injured, there’s a good chance you may have a lot of unanswered questions. We would like to provide a few frequently asked questions from previous clients in Philadelphia. It’s possible you have a similar question. If, not, please call our office at 215-332-0300. We are happy to help and offer free consultations for injured victims.

Do I have to answer all the questions on an Auto Accident Interrogatory?

Generally speaking, I would think you have to answer these questions (If you are the plaintiff). Interrogatories are part of the discovery process, and the defendant is usually entitled to get this type of information because it may lead to other things that are relevant to the defense of their case. As my colleagues say, you should discuss this with your Philadelphia accident lawyer. If you do not provide this information, I assume the defense attorney will file a motion and asked the court to compel you to answer this. I assume the court will grant this motion. Again, you should discuss this with your own accident attorney.

If you attempt pull your vehicle off the road after an accident and another car decides to go around your disabled vehicle by moving into the oncoming lane of traffic and hits another car head on, are you at fault for the accident? Can you be charged with the accident?

You asked two questions. Are you at fault for the car accident? Can you be charged with the car accident? My first question would be what kind of roadway are we talking about (speed limit, highway vs. residential, etc.). The driver approaching from behind has to do so with reasonable caution. Based on the limited information I believe the driver pulling into opposing traffic definitely has some responsibility. Second, if by charged you are talking about criminal charges, that would be in the discretion of the police and/or the local District Attorney’s Office. If you get a feeling that there’s a criminal investigation I would retain a criminal attorney and let him advise you. Also, assuming you have auto insurance make sure you notify your insurance carrier and they will defend you in the civil action.

How long does it take to get an accident settlement?

There is no way to give an accurate answer to the question without all the facts, both about the accident and your personal injuries. The short answer is it could easily take a year and in order to move your case forward you would have to file a formal lawsuit and that could delay the accident case. What if you think your case is worth $100,000 and the insurance company for the other driver thinks it is worth $1000? Again, a formal lawsuit would be necessary. It is possible for a relatively uncomplicated accident case to settle in a short period of time, but since you don’t even know how bad you are hurt at this point its impossible to predict. I assume you have a Philadelphia accident lawyer and if so, go over this with him/her in a little more detail.

When will I get my car accident settlement? The Other Driver got theirs.

Unfortunately, your problem is not all that uncommon. I get calls from people who complain that they know nothing about their car accident case and/or can’t get in touch with their car accident attorney. I find that most Philadelphia accident lawyers are on top of their cases, but we do run into situations where for one reason or another, the accident lawyer won’t get back to them. It might be that the accident lawyer is too busy. It might be that the lawyer doesn’t know enough about Philadelphia auto accident cases to advise the client properly and will not call them back. It might be the attorney did something wrong and is avoiding the call.

It is important to get a Philadelphia accident lawyer that has the time, staff, and resources to handle your case. Now I don’t know anything about your situation, but I can tell you that you deserve to know everything about your case. Demand a face to face meeting with the new attorney/old attorney or both. Tell them to have your file with them. Bring someone with you that you can trust to help you understand what is going on. I find that it is better to have two “sets of ears.” If you are not happy with what you hear OR the meeting is not scheduled, you have the right to get a new Philadelphia lawyer and it should not cost you any additional money from your settlement. Good luck and I hope you can straighten this out with your lawyers.

What should I do if the driver leaves the scene?

This is an example of a hit-and-run car accident case. You can still make a personal injury claim if the driver leaves the scene of the accident without giving any information. If possible, try your best to get the license plate number, make and model of the car, and a description of the driver. Call the police and give as much information as you have to the officer and they may be able to find the negligent driver. Now if you cannot get enough information to identify the driver, you can still file a claim only IF you carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance. The more you have the better because this will help you be compensated for your medical expenses and personal injuries when you are involved with someone who cannot be identified. This type of insurance is cheap and an excellent way to ensure you and your family are protected from the unknown. A good rule of thumb is to have your UIM/IM equal to you bodily injury liability limits.

How do I add a teenager to my auto policy?

Here are a few solutions to help keep your own policy from being attacked by higher rates:

1. Many insurers only hike insurance premiums after a teen receives a driver’s license. So, you should list your permit-holding teen on your policy, but in most cases you won’t feel the full insurance effect of having a teen driver until a license has been granted. Considering this, it can be smart to encourage your teen to retain the driving permit status for as long as possible; you can often renew a driving permit (or get an extension) from your DMV for little cost. However, doing so means your teen must continue to abide by the stricter driving requirements imposed on permit holders, and they not be as excited about this option as you may be either.

2. Before adding your child to your policy, see if might be cheaper to buy a separate policy. You can quickly get a ball-park estimate by obtaining quotes from providers online. This should help you determine if an individual policy could be a viable option for you.

Should you choose to opt for your own policy, see if your carrier will allow you to add your teen as an “occasional” driver, meaning they don’t drive as frequently as the normal driver. This will diminish the damage to your checkbook.

Also, ask if you can assign your teen to the least expensive car listed on your policy. Again, this can minimize your premium increase. Just be sure, though, that your teen only drives that car, and doesn’t sneak out for a night in your BMW.

3. Have your teen drive a car model with an excellent safety record and the latest safety equipment. Bonus points if it’s a little older, a four-door sedan, and not appealing to car thieves. Visit insurance company sites to see what types of cars they prefer insuring. Some common cars include chevorlet Impala, suzuki Forenza, Honda accord, Mazda 5, Scion XB, and Hyundai Santa Fe.

4. See what discounts your teen may qualify for, such as discounts for being a good student, taking driver education, and being a low-mileage driver.

5. See what discounts you may qualify for, such as discounts for combining coverage, being a safe driver, and taking safety education.

6. Comparison shop among car insurance providers; don’t simply just look towards your current provider

What is the best way to fix a car after an accident?

When a claim is made against an insurance company for damage to a car after an accident, this is known as a property damage claim. The task of replacing or repairing the vehicle is usually conducted by the owner of the car. Accident lawyers do not typically get involved with the property damage claim. This is because vehicle values are more easily determined than injury values and sometimes the legal fees exceed the cost of auto repairs.

When your car is damaged in an accident as the result of another person’s negligence, you may have options as to how your vehicle can be repaired. First, analyze the insurance coverage for the car accident. You can easily determine whether you have collision coverage (sometimes called property damage coverage) on your auto insurance policy by checking the declarations page of your policy.

Most drivers will carry collision coverage on their vehicles because most finance companies require collision coverage to protect the vehicle. Although sometimes it may make sense to carry collision coverage on a vehicle if the vehicle is older and does not justify the cost of collision coverage. You should also determine whether the other driver was insured. In Pennsylvania, the other driver’s insurance company is usually listed on the police accident report. As soon as possible, order a copy of the car accident report from the local police station or the Pennsylvania state police.

At this point, you or your accident attorney should report the accident to the other person’s insurance company. It is important that you do not give a full statement to the other driver’s insurance company. You may have to explain brief details such as where, when and how the car accident occurred. Do not give away details about medical treatment, employment, or any personal details. The other driver’s insurance company should inform you as to whether the other driver was properly insured.

If you have your own collision coverage, and the other driver was injured, you have the option to choose which insurance company you would like to have your car repaired. You may receive faster and friendlier service if you choose your company. When you applied for your auto insurance, you may or may not have selected car rental coverage. This may determine whether you get reimbursed for a rental car or you pay out of pocket. Most companies such as State Farm will have 80 20 policy where you will pay only 20% of the cost of rental.

If you choose to utilize your insurance policy to repair your vehicle, your insurance company will seek payment from the other driver’s insurance company. Before your insurance company recovers payment from the other driver’s insurance company, you will have to pay the deductibles associated with your property damage coverage. The other driver who caused the car accident has a duty under the law to compensate you, which includes a comparable rental vehicle to what your car was and the opportunity to use a body shop of your choice.

If the insurance company believes your car is totaled in the accident and not worth fixing, then you need to determine the current value of your vehicle. This can be done online by kellybluebook or edmunds.

Is Automobile Insurance Mandatory in Pennsylvania?

Yes, drivers must have car insurance to legally drive in the state of Pennsylvania. This is known a maintaining “financial responsibility.” A lapse in insurance coverage may result in the suspension of your vehicle registration for three months. I’ve had clients tell me that they changed insurance carriers, and later got a letter from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Motor vehicles threatening a three month suspension unless they could prove there was no laspe in insurance OR if there was a laspe in insurance, it was not for more than 31 days AND they could prove that their car was not operated during the lapse in coverage.

A few years ago, I changed automobile insurance carriers because I found a much cheaper rate. I notified my old insurance company that I was cancelling my policy and going to a new company. My new insurance policy went into effect on the same day that my old insurance policy stopped. Despite that, a few months later I got a letter from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Motor Vehicles threatening me with a suspension. Apparently my old insurance company told them I cancelled my insurance, and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Motor Vehicles just assumed that I did not get new insurance. I had to send them proof that I was continually insured.

PRACTICAL TIP: If you get a letter from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Motor Vehicles, do not ignore it and do not think you can take care of it with just a phone call. Follow-up by sending proof of what they want and make sure you have proof that you sent it (such as a certified letter or fax receipt) If you don’t follow up properly, your driver’s license and/or registration could be suspended, and it’s even more time, trouble, and expense to get them back.

I have full coverage, but no case. Why is this?

This question can have many answers. If you look at the definition of “full coverage” you will see that it is the minimum amount of insurance needed to drive in the state of Pennsylvania. This type of coverage gives you almost no protection in an auto accident case. It gives you the right to drive your car in the state of Pennsylvania, but nothing more.

If you have “full coverage” but “limited tort,” you have given up the right to sue for your personal injuries unless it’s serious. If you have “full coverage” but do not have “uninsured motorist coverage,” you have no protection for yourself or your family members.

Example: You are driving your wife and three children to the store and an uninsured driver runs a red light and hits your car and causes serious personal injuries to you and your entire family. If you have “full coverage” but do not have “uninsured motorist coverage,” it is very likely that neither you nor your family will be compensated for their injuries.

Is a car making a left turn always at fault in an accident?

When a driver makes a left turn, they will be liable to a car coming straight in the other direction. Exceptions to this rule may include the following:

– The car going straight was going too fast (this is difficult to prove in most cases)
– The car going straight ran a red light
– The car turning left initially did so in a legal and safe way, but something happened which caused the driver to slow down or stop.

No matter what happened, the law is strict in that it says a car making a left turn must do so in a safe manner, meaning they need to complete the turn safely before moving in front of oncoming traffic. The location of the damage also makes it hard to argue that the accident happened in another way. Bottom line: If you run into someone who is making a left turn in front of you, the other driver is almost always liable for the accident.

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