If you have been involved in a car crash in or near Philadelphia, chances are that you have been hurt in some way. Whether your losses are personal, in the form of a broken bone or other injury, or purely financial, in the form of damage to your car, you might wonder if it is worth filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash.
While this will always be a personal decision that only you can decide, there are numerous factors that you should consider before determining if you have been hurt badly enough to sue.
Different Kinds of Damages Available in Personal Injury Lawsuits in Philadelphia
Before you can even begin to think about whether you have been hurt badly enough to sue, it is important to understand the different things that you can be compensated for, in a successful personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia.
In a personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia, or the rest of the state of Pennsylvania, there are two main types of damages that you can recover:
- Economic damages, and
- Non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that can be easily distilled into a dollar amount. The state of Pennsylvania recognizes the following as economic damages, recoverable in a personal injury case after a car accident:
- The cost of your medical expenses, both those that you have already paid and those that you are likely to pay, in the future,
- The amount of wages that you lost while you recovered,
- Any lost earning capacity that you have suffered from the injuries you sustained in the crash, and
- The cost of fixing the property damage.
In addition to economic damages, you can also recover non-economic damages suffered in a car crash in Pennsylvania. These damages are far more difficult to state in a precise dollar amount, and include:
- Compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been put through,
- Compensation for your family for the loss of consortium that they have suffered, and
- Punitive damages that are meant to punish the other driver for egregiously bad conduct.
Totaling Up Your Legal Damages
One of the biggest factors in your decision on whether to file a lawsuit after a car accident, or not, is how badly you have been hurt. The only way to determine this is to total up all of the legal damages – both economic and non-economic – that you have suffered from the crash.
Of course, the very nature of non-economic damages is that they are difficult to tally. Rather than try to guess how much you can receive in compensation for your pain and suffering, then, it is a wiser tactic to stick only to economic damages at this early step in the process.
Paid Medical Expenses
The place to start is the cost of your medical expenses, thus far. This should be as easy as amassing all of the hospital bills that are associated with your recovery from the crash and adding the totals together.
Future Medical Expenses
Determining your future medical expenses is more difficult, unless, of course, you have already made a full recovery and are unlikely to pay more medical bills. If you have not fully recovered, then, talking to your doctor about your future prognosis and what additional expenses you are likely to amass on your road to recovery can be worth doing, if you want to figure out if you have been hurt badly enough to sue.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Similarly, it can be useful to talk to your boss to determine how much you have lost in unearned income. Because you would have made this money, were it not for the car crash, you can be compensated this unearned income in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
While talking to your boss, do not just ask about what wages you lost: Also ask about any increases to your income that you missed out on. If you were about to be promoted, but the car crash put you out of work so long that the job went to someone else, you may be able to be compensated for that loss, as well.
Pennsylvania's Statute of Limitations
When totaling these damage amounts, it is important to remember that you have two years to sue for injuries relating to a car crash in Pennsylvania. Under 42 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 5524, Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, these two years begin counting from the moment of the accident.
This is especially important when it comes to totaling the amount of your lost earning potential and your future medical expenses. Many injuries that are common in a car crash, like whiplash, do not show symptoms for weeks or even months after the accident. If the accident just happened, then, and you have not suffered from these symptoms, you would not even consider them in your tally. Waiting several months after the collision for these injuries to reveal themselves can be a wise decision so you have a better understanding of how bad the crash really was.
Of course, waiting until the last day of your two year window is not a good move. It takes weeks or sometimes even months to put together and file a personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia, so seeing an attorney as early as possible is optimal.
Your Ability to Find an Attorney to Represent You in Court
In addition to the extent of your injuries, your ability to find an attorney that you can afford is a crucial factor in whether you have been hurt badly enough to file a lawsuit. There is not much sense suing for $10,000 in damages when the attorney wants $10,000 up front to represent you.
When you hire the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian, though, this is not a problem. We often represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning we get nothing unless you get paid. Contact us online for a free consultation to get started if you want to take the next step to getting the compensation you need and deserve after a car accident.