For most people, crashes occur about 3-4 times throughout the course of their lives. Nobody can predict when a crash will occur or how bad the outcome will be. Some people are fortunate enough to only be involved in minor fender benders, but others sustain severe and life-threatening injuries that require them to be hospitalized.
You could be facing a lengthy and expensive recovery after being rushed to the hospital. Car accidents that result in severe injuries often result in mounting medical expenses. You may have sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, multiple bone fractures, damage to your spine, nerve damage, internal injuries or paralysis. You may have to undergo:
- Emergency medical care
- Lengthy hospital stays
- X-rays, MRIs and CT scans
- Prescription medication to manage pain
- Months of physical therapy and rehabilitation
It's critical that you consult with an experienced car accident attorney who can accurately tally up your current and future medical costs. In addition, you need a strong legal advocate who can factor in lost time at work and non-economic damages linked to your crash (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional anguish, etc.).
Compensation for damages if you're hospitalized
Pennsylvania is a "no-fault" car insurance state. This means that you can recover damages from your own insurance company regardless of who was at fault. In no-fault states, drivers must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP (also known as first-party benefits) pays for medical expenses for drivers and passengers after a crash, but may also cover lost wages and death benefits (depending on which policy you carry).
The damages could go beyond the amount covered by your PIP policy. In this case, you could pursue damages from the other driver's insurance company (but only if you're not at fault). Pennsylvania follows the comparative negligence 51 percent rule when determining fault. That means that drivers can only recover damages if they are less than 51 percent at fault for a crash.
The amount of damages crash victims receive in compensation reduces by the amount of fault they contribute to a crash. For example, an inattentive driver rear-ends a driver legally stopped at a red light. That makes the inattentive driver 100 percent at fault and the other driver zero percent at fault (thereby, able to recover 100 percent of damages). A driver who is 20 percent at fault for causing a crash would only be eligible for 80 percent of recoverable damages.
Determining fault requires a strong legal advocate
In order to recover damages from the other driver's insurance company, there is a burden of proof that applies. Your attorney must present evidence proving that the other driver's negligence caused your crash. Through an investigation, an experienced Hazleton car accident attorney may obtain:
- Pictures from the crash scene from a crash reconstruction expert
- Cellphone and electronic records of the other driver
- Statements from witnesses
- Video footage from surveillance cameras and dashcams (if available)
- A copy of the police report
- A copy of your medical records or documentation from your medical evaluation