Some car accidents in Philadelphia are not as bad as others. Out of all of the kinds of car collisions, rear end crashes are usually among the least serious. However, just because the average rear end crash is not as severe as, say, a typical head-on collision, does not mean that there are no outliers that the rule. Some rear end crashes are high-speed wrecks that involve multiple vehicles and cause your car to rollover, drastically increasing the likelihood of you suffering severe personal injuries.
On the other hand, just because you were involved in a minor car accident does not mean that you should not be compensated by the person who caused it. Even if you did not suffer any injuries, your car was likely damaged through no fault of your own.
Legal Claims Process for Rear End Collisions
The legal claims process for car accidents is the same, regardless of the type of crash it involves.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the focus is always on getting the medical attention that you need to make a full recovery. Worrying about a lawsuit while you are waiting for the ambulance to bring you to the hospital, or while you are talking to police about what happened, does not benefit anyone.
Once the dust has settled – a couple of days, if there were no injuries, or up to two weeks if the injuries you suffered were severe or life-threatening – you can count on hearing from the insurance company of the person who rear ended you. After all, if you were hit in a rear end collision, it means that the person who hit you was either going too fast, following too closely, or was too distracted to avoid the impact. In all of these cases, it was the other driver who was being negligent and caused the crash.
One of the things that the insurance company will do is make an initial settlement offer. This offer is designed to make you think that it would be a good deal for you, because it appears to pay for the costs of the damage and your injuries, and would put an end to the case by releasing the insurance company from any further litigation. However, it is almost always a lowball offer that fails to fully compensate you for your losses.
Seeing an attorney before making a decision on the insurance company's initial offer can make a huge difference in whether you get the compensation that you need and deserve.
Preparing to Sue a Negligent Driver After Being Rear Ended
If you choose not to take the initial offer from the insurance company and enforce your legal rights to compensation, the next step is to prepare a personal injury lawsuit.
Before actually filing the lawsuit in court, though, there are numerous pieces of evidence that will need to be accumulated. These documents and other reports will make a big difference in the outcome of your case, as they can all provide evidence that the other driver was actually responsible for the accident, and that you were hurt, as a result.
One of the most important pieces of evidence to acquire is the police report of the car accident. This is the official rendition of what happened, and carries great weight in court. If the police report says that it was the other driver who was at fault in the crash, it will be up to the other driver and his or her attorney to show that the police report is wrong; something that is far from easy.
Other important documents to gather together are the medical bills that you have had to pay to recover from the accident. These prove exactly how much you have had to spend because of the crash and, by extension, because of the other driver's negligence, and show how much you should be compensated in medical expenses.
Similarly, you should gather documentation that show the extent of the other damages that you have suffered as a result of the rear end car crash. These include:
- Proof that you missed work, together with the wages that you would have made,
- Estimates of how much in medical expenses you will have to pay in the future to recover from your injuries,
- The costs of fixing your vehicle, and
- Any evidence that shows your injuries are preventing you from fully enjoying your life.
Filing a Personal Injury Complaint
Once you are ready to begin the lawsuit, the first step is to write up a complaint. This is the initiating document that starts your legal claim: It officially sets out what you claim had happened, how you were hurt, and shows the court the legal basis for making the other party compensate you for your losses.
Putting together a legal complaint that does not hurt you in the long run, however, is not easy. Non-lawyers who try filing the lawsuit on their own often overlook crucial elements of their case, or wander into easy pitfalls that the other side can exploit to their advantage and get the case dismissed.
Statute of Limitations Limits When You Can File a Lawsuit
In all, the timeline of this process – from accident to the filing of the complaint – has to happen within the statute of limitations, which begins to run, or toll, from the moment of the car accident. If the complaint does not abide by the strictures of the statute of limitations, and is filed after the statute has expired, then the party you are suing can have it dismissed very easily.
In Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for car accidents, including rear end car accidents, is two years.
While this might seem like you have a lot of time to prepare and begin your lawsuit, the reality is that there is not much time to waste. Some evidence can take months to prepare effectively, making it crucial to have a lawyer working for you early in the process.
If you have been involved in a rear end collision, contact the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian online.