It is a fact of life that car accidents happen everyday. It is a familiar scene to watch an ambulance race with sirens blaring and lights flashing to an accident scene. The car accident may result in loss of life and/or serious injuries that can have a permanent or long-lasting impact upon the people involved in the crash. The experience of being in a car accident can be overwhelming from a physical, psychological, emotional and financial standpoint. Even the most cautious drivers can be hurt in an automobile accident even though they did nothing wrong. The question becomes, “What do I do?
At the Charles Law Offices, we are committed to helping you through this difficult time in your life. Since 1977, we have achieved outstanding verdicts and financial settlements for victims of car accidents, including those suffering wrongful death and serious personal injuries. Our track record of big wins and large financial awards or settlements to our personal injury clients speaks for itself.
Attorneys Fredrick E. Charles and Dennis G. Charles each have nearly 40 years of trial experience, legal training and skill in dealing with insurance companies, physicians, therapists, police, fact witnesses, accident reconstruction experts, economists, forensic pathologists, toxicologists, and other experts needed to properly prepare your auto accident case for trial, arbitration, mediation or out-of-court settlement, and obtain for you the full measure of money damages to which you are entitled.
Attorneys Fredrick E. Charles and Dennis G. Charles understand your legal needs and concerns, will sit down with you and personally guide you through the civil litigation process, and will work diligently to achieve the optimum outcome and compensation that you deserve.
At the Charles Law Offices, we are skilled in handling all forms of personal injury, such as wrongful death and survival actions; broken and fractured bones; neck injury, spinal cord injury, herniated discs, pelvic injury, back injury and paralysis; coma; psychological disorders and emotional trauma, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; eye injury; face injury, head injury, brain injury and concussion; scars and permanent disfigurement; arm and hand injury; knee injury, ankle injury and leg injury; burns; and chronic pain and suffering.
Automobile accidents occur in many forms, such as single or multi-vehicle crashes, head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, 90 degree or “T-Bone” accidents, rollovers, improper lane changes, sideswiping, and hit-and-runs. An automobile accident can be caused by many different forms of negligence, such as cell phone usage, texting or other distracted driving; a defective road condition; adverse weather conditions; alcohol or drug usage; fatigue or drowsiness; aggressive or inexperienced driving; inadequate driver training; mechanical or product failure; and ignorance or intentional violation of the rules of the road contained in the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, to name just a few. If your accident was caused by someone else’s negligent conduct, you may be entitled to money damages for your injuries, disfigurement, embarrassment and humiliation, loss of income and earnings capacity, loss of life’s enjoyments and pleasures, and loss of consortium.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a “comparative negligence” jurisdiction, as set forth in 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7102. This means that even if you were negligent in causing the car accident, you or your legal representative still may be entitled to recover money damages as long as your negligence in causing the accident was not greater than the causal negligence of the party or parties against whom recovery is sought. Under this “comparative negligence” analysis, any damages sustained by you will be reduced in proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to you. For example, if you were 20% at fault in causing the accident, the amount of damages awarded to you will be reduced by 20%. If you are found by a judge or jury to be greater than 50% at fault in causing the accident, the Pennsylvania “comparative negligence” law bars your recovery of money damages from the other party or parties involved in the accident.
Under Pennsylvania’s “Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law,” every registered vehicle owner in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required to be covered by financial responsibility, and may lose his operating privilege or vehicle registrations if he fails to maintain financial responsibility on the currently registered vehicle for the period of registration. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” jurisdiction with regard to the payment of “first party” motor vehicle insurance benefits, such as medical benefits, income loss benefits, accidental death benefits, and funeral benefits. A person who suffers injury arising out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle shall recover first party benefits against the applicable insurance coverage according to an order of priority set forth by statute (75 Pa.C.S.A.§1713).
Pursuant to statute (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5524), there is a 2 year statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit for injuries and other damages suffered in a car accident. Pennsylvania does, however, have a “discovery rule” which, in certain limited circumstances, may extend the time for filing a personal injury lawsuit. The “discovery rule” provides that where the existence of injury is not known to the complaining party and such knowledge cannot reasonably be ascertained within the prescribed statutory period, the limitations period does not begin to run until discovery of injury is reasonably possible.
Under section 1705 of the “Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law an insured party is required to select either the “Limited Tort” Option or the “Full Tort” Option insurance plan, which will govern how his claim for bodily injuries will be analyzed and whether he is legally entitled to damages for pain and suffering or other nonmonetary damages:
“Full Tort” Option: permits recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, and financial compensation for pain and suffering and other nonmonetary damages as a result of injuries caused by other drivers.
“Limited Tort” Option: permits recovery of all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for pain and suffering or other nonmonetary damages unless the injuries suffered fall within the definition of “serious injury” as set forth in the policy or unless one of several other exceptions noted in the policy applies. “Serious Injury” is defined in section 1702 as “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”
Pursuant to section 3742 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code (75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3742), the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person is required by law to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible, and to remain at the scene until he has fulfilled the requirements of section 3744 of the Motor Vehicle Code (relating to duty to give information and render aid). A violation of this legal requirement is treated as a felony of the third degree if the victim suffers serious bodily injury, and is punishable by a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days and a mandatory fine of $1,000. If the victim dies, a violation of this legal requirement is punishable by a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 1 year and a mandatory minimum fine of $2.500.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is vitally important that you seek immediate medical attention and treatment for your injuries. Immediate medical attention is important for several reasons including: (1) to minimize the pain, suffering and/or disability caused by the trauma; (2) to prevent further injury or deterioration of the medical condition; and (3) to obtain documentation of the nature and scope of the injury caused by the other party’s negligence. Each of these factors is important in later proving the damages caused by the other party’s negligence, and in obtaining the optimum financial award that you deserve.
The police report is a very important document that often records how the accident occurred, the party responsible for causing the accident, and any injuries and damages suffered in the accident. It frequently contains the names, addresses, telephone numbers and statements of the parties and eye witnesses to the accident; the geographic location of the accident; a description, and often a diagram, of how the accident occurred, including the existence of any skid marks and relevant measurements; environmental conditions at the time of the accident and whether they played a role in causing the accident; any motor vehicle code violation/s committed by the respective parties; the nature, location and extent of vehicular damage resulting from the accident; the post-crash location and position of the vehicles involved in the accident; the post-accident road worthiness of the vehicle/s involved in the crash; the name and address of any tow-truck business used to remove a disabled vehicle from the accident scene; and other data that later may be used by the attorneys at Charles Law Offices and their expert witnesses to prove your case.
A representative of the insurance company may attempt to contact you shortly after the accident to obtain your statement in an effort to lock in the details of how the accident occurred, what injuries you suffered, any pain or disability you are experiencing, and other facts and information. Generally, it is not a good idea to speak to your opponent’s representative prior to consulting with, and obtaining legal advice from, your attorney. Sometimes, for example, several types of legitimate personal injuries sustained in an automobile accident have delayed symptoms. Any statements made by you to the insurance representative immediately following an auto accident may be incomplete or inaccurate concerning the nature and extent of your injuries and damages. Such statements given without legal advice may be taken out of context and later used by the insurance company in an attempt to minimize or downplay your injuries, pain and suffering and/or damages in a future lawsuit. In order to protect your legal rights, our advice is this: Don’t sign anything! Don’t say anything! Protect your legal rights and talk to the attorneys at Charles Law Offices first!
If you, or a loved one, have been injured in an auto accident, trust the more than 75 years of collective trial experience, skill, knowledge and legal training of Attorneys Fredrick E. Charles and Dennis G. Charles of Charles Law offices to guide you to a successful litigation outcome. If you have been injured in a car accident and would like to know what you can do, call us for a free consultation. We will take the time to carefully and fully explain your legal rights and the litigation process, and help you on the road to recovery and receiving full money damages for your losses.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the attorneys at Charles Law Offices.
The Charles Brothers’ devotion to the law is derived from a family history in the legal system and of service to others. Their father, Charles “Chink” Charles (depicted in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph) held a 35 year career in law enforcement, and was selected to serve as the personal bodyguard for former United States Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson during their campaign visits to Allentown.