Who Can You Sue in a PA Car Accident?
Car accidents can be traumatic, emotionally draining experiences that often have severe consequences. Although the state operates under a “choice no-fault” system for car insurance — meaning your own insurance company will typically cover your medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident — victims can step outside this system and sue the liable parties if they meet certain conditions, like sustaining severe injuries that result in significant medical expenses or impairment. At Sharma Law Office, our car accident attorney in Easton, PA, understands the complexities surrounding car accidents in Pennsylvania. This article delves into various aspects of car accident liability in Pennsylvania, elucidating on whom you may be able to sue in such unfortunate circumstances.
Determining Negligence and Liability
Central to many car accident cases is the concept of negligence, which involves a failure to exercise a reasonable level of care while operating a vehicle. In other words, a driver must act as a reasonable person would under similar conditions. Understanding the facets of negligence helps in determining liability, thereby influencing the outcome of any legal recourse available to victims.
- Driver: In most cases, the driver of the vehicle is the first person to be scrutinized for negligence. Whether it’s failing to adhere to speed limits, not yielding the right of way, or operating a vehicle under the influence, driver actions significantly contribute to accidents. These actions can be easily substantiated through police reports, witness accounts, and sometimes, surveillance footage, making the driver often the most straightforward party to sue in a car accident.
- Employer: When the driver involved in the accident was performing work-related duties, the employer might be held accountable under the doctrine of “respondeat superior.” This legal theory stipulates that an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees conducted within the scope of their employment. This becomes notably significant in cases involving commercial transport systems, taxis, or company-owned vehicles.
- Government: Liability can extend beyond individuals and corporations to include government entities. For instance, if inadequate signage, poorly maintained roads, or malfunctioning traffic lights are deemed to contribute to the accident, the municipal or state government could be sued. However, be aware that initiating legal action against a governmental body involves stringent procedures and potential immunity barriers.
- Manufacturer: Manufacturers may also be liable if the accident resulted from a defect in the vehicle, attributable to the manufacturer. This could range from brake failure to faulty steering mechanisms to airbag issues. In such cases, you would likely need to file a product liability lawsuit.
Identifying the liable party in a car accident is a multi-faceted process that requires a deep understanding of various aspects of negligence and liability laws in Pennsylvania.
How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident?
In Pennsylvania, the amount you can sue for following a car accident is influenced by several key factors. These include the severity of your injuries, with more significant injuries often leading to higher claims. Medical expenses, both immediate and those anticipated for future care, contribute to the total amount that can be sued for. Loss of income is another pivotal factor, taking into account both wages lost as a result of the accident and any impact on future earning capacity. Lastly, non-economic damages, often termed “pain and suffering,” may also be included, although these are more challenging to quantify.
Statute of Limitations to File a Car Accident Lawsuit
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit is generally 2 years from the date of the accident. Failing to file a lawsuit within this two-year period bars the injured party from pursuing legal action later, rendering any potential claims void. It’s crucial to note that there are some exceptions and special circumstances that can alter this timeline. For example, if a government entity is involved, you may be required to file a notice of intent to sue within a much shorter period, within 6 months of the accident.
Whether it is the driver, employer, government, or manufacturer, understanding whom you can sue, the statute of limitations, and the potential for exceptions, consulting an Easton car accident attorney promptly after a car accident is strongly advised. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you receive the justice you deserve.