Do you need a vehicle back-up accident lawyer?
When you think of the phrase “car accident,” you might immediately picture a high-speed, head-on crash. However, low-speed collisions (such as those that happen when drivers back up their vehicles without properly looking at their surroundings) are actually much more common.
Backing-up car accidents in Philadelphia can cause serious injuries, as well as significant property damage. If another road user’s negligent conduct has caused you harm, you should be entitled to compensation, regardless of how the accident happened.
How a Philadelphia Vehicle Back-Up Accident Lawyer Can Help You
If someone has carelessly reversed into your vehicle, knocked you down while you were on foot, or backed into some item of your property, you have the right to demand that this party pay you appropriate damages. However, securing these damages will be tricky (if not impossible) without the assistance of an attorney who specializes in the area. Even if you do manage to negotiate a settlement alone, you’ll almost certainly have left money on the table by doing it without legal assistance.
We can help you negotiate with your insurance company if it’s refusing to pay you the compensation you’re owed. We’ll also take on the other party to your accident to seek damages if necessary.
If you’re considering working with us, you don’t need to worry about wasting your money. We offer free initial consultations to every potential client, which means we’ll evaluate your case for free and tell you whether it’s worth pursuing. It’s a win-win for you.
Why Choose a Back-Up Accident Lawyer From The Cochran Firm?
The Cochran Firm is steeped in history, and the attorneys who are currently leading the way in our personal injury practice have a distinguished record when it comes to delivering for clients.
Lawyer Robert S. Miller has a broad background in litigation, having represented victims of slip-and-fall incidents, construction site accidents, and medical malpractice, as well as those involved in road accidents.
At The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia, we deal with road accidents of all kinds every single day. We know how to show who was at fault, and we know the strategies insurance company attorneys use to try to limit their liability. If you put us to work, you can be sure we’ll do everything in our power to secure as big a settlement as possible to help you get your life back on track.
Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident When Backing Up?
There is no hard-and-fast set of rules you can rely on when analyzing who’s at fault in a back-up accident situation. Every case is different, and various factors can dictate who’s responsible for a collision.
Right of Way
Generally speaking, a road user is much less likely to be found liable for a backing-up accident if they have the right of way at the time of the collision. In most cases, reversing drivers do not have the right of way on the road, as theirs is considered an unusual maneuver. Therefore, a reversing vehicle should ordinarily let other vehicles and pedestrians clear their path before completing the movement.
There are some exceptions to this general rule, however, such as where another road user deliberately yields right of way to a reversing vehicle.
It is unusual for the driver of a vehicle to be considered at fault for an accident if their vehicle is not moving at the time of the collision. So, if someone else backs into your stationary car, there’s a good chance it was their fault, legally speaking. It’s more difficult to establish liability on this basis when both parties to an accident are in motion at the time of their collision.
The Dangers Posed by Backing-Up Car Accidents in Philadelphia
In 2015, a team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden published a study on the supposedly safe speed of 30 kilometers per hour (19 mph). They found evidence suggesting that this speed was not “sufficiently low… to prevent severe injuries,” particularly where accident victims are elderly. This illustrates the very real threat that vehicles pose, even while traveling at slower speeds.
Sadly, drivers often fail to take their responsibilities as seriously when they’re parking or moving their car compared to when they’re traveling on the open road.
Your Rights as a Back-Up Accident Victim
Pennsylvania is one of just three states in the U.S. that use what’s called a “choice no-fault” system. This means you can select either a no-fault insurance policy or a traditional insurance policy (known as “full tort” coverage) when you purchase car insurance.
No-fault policies require you to file a claim with your own insurance company for compensation following an accident, regardless of who was to blame. If you have full tort insurance, though, you’ll be able to pursue the other party to your accident for payment of damages. This will also be an option if the incident was serious and the compensation you require exceeds the limits of your no-fault policy.
Special damages are losses that can be calculated and verified with bills, receipts, and other records. Commonly-awarded special damages include:
- Medical expenses: This can include the cost of emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, in-home care services, and any future medical expenses related to your accident.
- Lost income: This includes income lost during your recovery as well as any impact on future earning capacity.
- Property damage: Back-up accidents frequently cause significant damage to vehicles, even when they occur at relatively low speeds.
- Other expenses: These might include out-of-pocket costs related to your accident, like travel expenses for medical appointments.
General damages, also known as noneconomic damages, cover intangible losses that can’t be easily quantified or measured in monetary terms. Unlike special damages, general damages are subjective; it’s up to judges and juries to decide how much a given loss should amount to in monetary terms.
Examples of general damages include:
- Pain and suffering: This accounts for both the physical pain and emotional distress accident victims endure.
- Emotional distress: This compensates for psychological impacts, such as anxiety, depression, or other emotional trauma resulting from the injury.
- Loss of consortium: In some cases, the spouse or life partner of an injured person may be entitled to sue the at-fault party for the loss of companionship or romantic intimacy they have suffered due to their partner’s injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: This compensation may be available when an injury prevents a victim from enjoying day-to-day pursuits, like hobbies or exercise.
In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were outrageous, either due to the defendant’s evil motive or their reckless indifference to the rights of others. While drivers who cause back-up accidents often behave negligently, conduct in cases like this rarely meets this very high standard, so punitive damages are generally not available in back-up accident cases.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long do I have to file a claim after a back-up accident?
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. So, if a lawsuit is not filed within two years of your accident, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule (such as when the injured person is a minor) so it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific deadlines that apply to your case.
What evidence do I need to collect to strengthen my case?
Once you hire a lawyer, they’ll take charge of the collection, organization, and delivery of the evidence that will help you win your case; you’ll no longer have to worry about it. Some of the most important forms of evidence in back-up accident disputes include:
- Photographs and videos
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Financial documents.
What if the other driver denies liability for the back-up accident?
If the other driver denies liability, the presentation of solid evidence in your favor becomes crucial. Without that, it’s just your word against theirs.
Can I still claim compensation if the back-up accident was partly my fault?
Pennsylvania follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule, which means you can still recover damages if you’re partially at fault for the accident, but your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you’re found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your total damages would be reduced by 20%. However, if you’re more than 50% at fault, you won’t be able to recover damages from the other party.
Work With a Back-Up Car Accident Lawyer You Can Trust
Whether you’ve been involved in a back-up accident or another type of collision, or you’ve suffered another type of personal injury altogether, The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia can help. Our team has a long history of delivering for clients when they’re at their most vulnerable, and we can do the same for you.
Get in contact today via the form on our website or over the phone at 800-969-4400. Remember, we offer free initial consultations, so there’s no risk to you in coming to us to tell your story.