Pittsburgh Auto Accident Lawyers
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that in 2016, a total of 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States.
This was a six percent increase over the fatalities in the previous year, and the highest number of traffic deaths in the past 10 years. Sixty-four percent of those deaths were passengers in the vehicle, 16 percent were pedestrians, 13 percent were motorcyclists, and 2 percent were bicyclists.
If you’ve been in an auto accident, you know how traumatic it can be. The injuries can affect you and your family for years, and the medical expenses can be devastating.
The experienced Pittsburgh car accident lawyers at Chaffin Luhana represent individuals who are injured in auto accidents throughout the Ohio Valley in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
We understand how difficult and confusing it can be to try to negotiate a case with an insurance company after an accident, in an attempt to receive the compensation you deserve. Chaffin Luhana offers dedicated legal representation for injured victims and their families and we will handle your case from the initial stage up through trial, if necessary.
If you or someone you love were injured in an auto accident, we may be able to help you. To learn more, schedule a free no-obligation consultation or call us now at 1-888-480-1123.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
After an auto accident, you’re likely to feel shaken and stressed, which could cause you to do or say some things that could hurt your case in a car accident lawsuit down the road. To protect yourself, always take the following steps:
Should I Wait to Get Medical Treatment After My Accident?The simple answer is NO. Do not delay a doctor’s visit or any other medical treatment. Even if you don’t notice an injury right away and are nervous to incur medical costs, you may think waiting to see a doctor is fine, but this is a mistake. Diagnosis and treatment of injuries due to an accident play a very important role in you receiving the largest recovery possible from the responsible parties involved, typically an insurance company. If you don’t seek medical advice immediately after the accident, it will appear to the insurance company—and potentially to a judge and jury later on—that you weren’t injured, and don’t deserve compensation. Many injuries take time to show up after a car crash. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that begin to hurt hours or even days later. Back and neck pain can also take time to develop, as can other injuries like concussions, traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, or even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your doctor may not be able to diagnose any of these upon your initial visit, but you need to make an appointment anyway so you have it on record that you were concerned about injuries, and you did seek medical attention. Then, if your injuries develop later and you have to go back to the doctor, you have a record that supports your experience and proves you were diligent about treating possible injuries.
My Auto Accident Involved a Semi-Truck – What Do I Do?
After an accident with a semi-truck, you should take the same basic steps as you do after a car accident, with the addition of one more: if the truck driver wasn’t seriously hurt, you may want to ask him or her a few important questions. In a truck driving accident, there are more parties involved that could be found liable in a car accident lawsuit.
The driver may have been speeding or distracted, but she also might have been on the road for too many hours without sleep. That could be at least partially the fault of the company she works for. Or it could be that she was a driver without a good safety record, in which case again, the company may be liable for that too.
Or perhaps the company didn’t keep up with maintenance on the trucks. If something went wrong with the truck right before the accident, investigators may find that adequate maintenance could have prevented that problem.
The truck’s cargo also adds another element to an accident with a semi-truck. If the cargo wasn’t loaded properly and that contributed to the crash, whoever loaded it could share in the liability.
All of these are factors that an insurance company may ignore, which is why it’s important to talk to an auto accident attorney, so you have someone looking after your best interests.
Meanwhile, ask the driver a few questions, such as:
- What company does he/she work for?
- What cargo is being hauled, who loaded it, and where he was going?
- How many hours had he already worked that day?
He may not be willing to answer your questions, but you can try at the accident scene, and later your car accident lawyer can help complete the investigation.
What if I Hit a Guardrail in My Car Accident?Guardrails are supposed to help protect drivers and limit the damage done in a car crash. They’re designed to absorb impact and to slow down a car when it makes contact, potentially preventing rolling or other more serious accident outcomes. The end of a guardrail, called the “end terminal,” is that flat piece you see at the beginning of the guardrail. Most end terminals are marked with yellow and black stripes. The end terminal is designed to absorb impact by collapsing, sort of like an accordion, to help slow the vehicle down. The rail is also supposed to move away from the vehicle to lessen damage. In some cases, though, guardrails don’t work as they’re supposed to. Even if you’re in a single-vehicle car accident, if you hit a guardrail, it’s important to take pictures and make sure the guardrail performed as expected. There have been accidents, for example, where a vehicle struck a guardrail, and the guardrail didn’t collapse, but rather, impaled the vehicle. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported in 2017 that at least four people died in Tennessee when their vehicles hit guardrails that instead of protecting them, caused their deaths. In every case, it was a Lindsay X-LITE guardrail that caused the issue. The manufacturer, Trinity Industries, is now defending a number of car accident lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who were injured by these guards. Cases like this illustrate how important it is to have someone on your side. A defective guardrail can cause severe injuries and/or death, but you and your family don’t have to face the consequences alone. A vehicle accident lawyer like Chaffin Luhana LLP also handles complex product liability cases will leave no stone unturned in examining your case to determine all the factors involved.
Do I Have a Case for My Auto Accident?
It can be very difficult to determine on your own if you can pursue a car accident lawsuit. As noted above, sometimes there are factors involved that you may not have thought about, such as a defective guardrail or a defective vehicle.
In other cases, it could be that the intersection was poorly designed, or the city did not take the proper precautions in making sure that important road signs were visible.
Meanwhile, if you or a loved one were injured, you will have enough to deal with addressing those injuries and the financial difficulty they may present.
It can be extremely difficult and complicated to try to deal with your insurance company at the same time you are dealing with the physical, mental, and financial impact of an accident, such that it is hard to even figure out if they are offering your family a fair settlement.
There are some benchmarks, though, that you can use to determine if you should contact a car accident attorney.
When you find yourself in a car accident, ask yourself the following questions:
What is My Car Accident Case Worth?
If you could get a ballpark figure on how much your car crash lawsuit was worth up front, it would help you make a decision about whether or not to pursue your case, right?
Discovering about how much compensation you could expect for your injuries and other claims would help you determine if it would be worth your time and energy to pursue a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, this is a question that is usually too difficult to answer before a thorough legal investigation of the case.
In addition to the factors about the accident itself, there are your losses that need to be calculated, and these losses usually include your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any future medical care you may need.
If you lost someone close to you in the accident (wrongful death), you may be entitled to loss of consortium, which further increases the complexity of determining the appropriate compensation for the case.
Your car accident attorney must also determine where the defendants stand as to whether they are disputing or accepting fault, what they’re claiming, and what evidence they have behind their claims, and if there are any limits on how much you can recover.
It takes time to get all of the facts together, after which your traffic accident attorney will be able to provide you with a better evaluation of your case.
INDIVIDUAL DEFECTIVE AUTOMOBILE RECOVERY
How Much Will My Case Cost?
As a plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit working with Chaffin Luhana, you will not owe any money up front. We work on a contingency fee, which means that we don’t receive payment for our work unless you receive a recovery.
If you are awarded compensation in a settlement agreement or in an actual trial, your attorney will get a percentage of that award to pay for its attorney’s fees, as well as receive their out-of-pocket costs.
During your initial free consultation with one of our experienced injury lawyers, he or she will help explain the fees, so you can understand exactly how much of the potential recovery you may receive.
Proving Liability and Auto Insurance After an Auto Accident
In order to have a valid auto accident claim, you must be able to prove that someone else is liable for the accident, whether it is another driver, an auto parts manufacturing company, a municipality responsible for the roads, or a trucking company.
At Chaffin Luhana, we will closely evaluate the evidence in your case to determine who is liable for your injuries. Often, there are multiple responsible parties.
There are some types of accidents that are almost always the other driver’s fault, but these laws can vary by state. Examples include:
- Rear-End Collisions—If you were hit from behind.
- Left-Turn Accidents—If you were driving straight and a car coming the other way made a left turn, causing the accident.
- DUI Crashes—If the other driver was drunk / over the legal alcohol limit.
Your car accident attorney will thoroughly review police reports, state traffic laws, conditions at the site of the accident, information about the other driver (particularly if he or she was driving a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle), and more to help prove liability. In some cases, there may be multiple parties that share in liability.
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Questions You Should Expect to be Asked by Your Car Accident Attorney
When you meet with your attorney, you should be prepared to answer questions such as:
In addition to documenting the accident, as described above, it’s also important for you to keep track of any medical documents given to you by your doctor as well as any receipts for prescriptions or other medical care.
If you contact your insurance company before calling an attorney, you should document the date and time of your conversation as well as the name of the person you speak with. And remember—before giving a statement to any insurance company, it’s always best to have legal representation.
Pittsburgh (Allegheny County) 2016 Crash Statistics
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Allegheny County experienced 12,858 vehicle crashes. Of those, 5,434 crashes caused injuries, and 67 crashes caused fatalities.
- Fatal Crash – A crash in which one or more of the involved persons died within 30 days of the crash and the death(s) were attributable to the crash.
- Injury Crash – A crash in which none of the involved persons were killed, but at least one was injured.
- Property Damage Only (PDO) – A reportable crash where no one was killed or injured, but damage occurred to a vehicle requiring towing.
- Death – As used here, any injury that caused death within 30 days of a crash and the death was attributed to the crash.
- Major Injury – Any injury, other than a fatality, which by its severity required immediate emergency transport, such as an ambulance to a hospital or clinic for medical treatment and /or hospitalization. Major injuries would include amputation of limb(s), severe burns, etc.
- Moderate Injury – Any injury that required some form of medical treatment, but was not life threatening or incapacitating. These injuries were visible. Moderate injuries include a cut that required several stitches, or a broken finger or toe.
- Minor Injury – Any injury that was treated by first aid application, whether at the scene of the crash or in a medical facility. Complaints of injuries which are not visible, and do not appear to be of any major or moderate nature, are considered minor injuries.
Common Causes / Types of Car AccidentsBelow are several of the most common types of injury causing car accidents.
- Distracted Driving: The accident was caused, all or in part, by a distracted driver. The NHTSA defines distraction as any activity that “diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
- Rear End Accidents: The accident was caused by a driver rear-ending or colliding with the back of another vehicle. In most cases, the driver who rear-ended the other car in front is considered at fault. This type of accident is also commonly associated with whiplash injuries.
- Drunk Driving: The driver (or someone else involved in the accident) was driving under the influence of alcohol, and had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per decileter of blood (g/dL). Commercial drivers have a lower legal BAC limit of .04 g/dL.
- Rollover Accidents: Someone in the accident was in a vehicle that rolled over, tipping over onto its side or roof. Rollover accidents have a higher fatality rate than other types of crashes.
- Uninsured Motorists: Either you or someone else involved in the accident did not carry automobile insurance at the time of the accident. Motorists are legally required to have liability insurance in nearly every state in the U.S., but sometimes people still drive without it, or are late on their payments, so the policy lapses.
- Head-On Collisions: The front ends of two vehicles involved in an accident hit each other. The vehicles were moving directly toward each other prior to the accident.
- Driving While High: Driving while under the influence of illegal drugs is usually just as dangerous as driving while drunk. Though there is no uniform standard for how much of a drug is considered unlawful to have in one’s system, law enforcement can detect signs of drug impairment, and require a blood test.
- Speeding: One or more of the drivers in the accident was traveling over the posted speed limit.
- Reckless driving: One of the drivers in the accident was driving in a reckless manner. He may have been racing another vehicle, carousing to impress friends, trying to outperform other vehicles, or displaying road rage. The driver was operating the vehicle in a way that disregarded the safety of others.
- Running a traffic signal or traffic sign: A driver disregarded a traffic signal, causing the accident.
- Changing lanes without looking or signaling: A driver abruptly changed lanes without using a signal or looking for other vehicles, thus causing an accident.
Common Car Crash InjuriesThough an auto accident can cause a wide variety of injuries, below are some of those most commonly associated with car accident lawsuits:
- Shoulder injuries: The impact of an accident can cause severe trauma to the shoulder joint, resulting in pain, stiffness, weakness, swelling, and difficulty moving the shoulder. This type of injury could involve a fracture, dislocation, or soft-tissue problem, such as a ligament tear.
- Concussions: A blow to the head sustained in the accident can cause a concussion, which is a type of traumatic brain injury in which the blow caused the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. Symptoms can range from mild to serious.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): An injury to the brain caused by a violent blow or jolt, or by something penetrating the brain tissue. These can cause mild confusion, or may result in loss of consciousness and other more serious symptoms.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Damage occurs to part of the spinal cord or nerves along the spinal canal. The result can be loss of certain bodily functions or paralysis.
- Burns: If one or more of the vehicles catches fire, those involved in the accident may suffer mild to severe burns.
- Neurological Injuries: Any injury that affects the nervous system, which includes the brain and the central and autonomic nervous systems.
- Broken Bones: Car accidents can cause all types of fractures, to arms, legs, hands, feet, and more.
- Wrongful Death: A driver, passenger, or bystander is killed at the scene or dies thereafter as a result of the car crash.
Contact a Pittsburgh Auto Accident Lawyer
The most important thing you can do after you receive medical treatment is to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer in Pittsburgh, PA. The personal injury attorneys at Chaffin Luhana will help you recover the money you need to obtain the best medical care and to achieve the highest quality of life.
To find out if you qualify to file an auto accident claim, contact us today or call us 24/7 at 1-888-480-1123.
We represent individuals in auto accidents in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. We also handle product liability cases nationwide.