In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, wearing a seatbelt isn’t just a good idea—it’s the law. For many, the question that arises after a car accident where a seatbelt wasn’t worn is, “Can I still file a claim for damages?” The answer is more nuanced than a simple yes or no. In this article, we’ll delve into Pennsylvania’s seatbelt and comparative negligence laws, their implications for car accident victims, and how an experienced personal injury attorney can assist in these complex matters.
Pennsylvania’s Seatbelt Regulations: What You Need to Know
In Pennsylvania, it’s mandatory for all drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt. This law is especially strict for minors, as anyone below 18 years of age is required to have their seatbelt fastened. Additionally, children under 8 years old must be seated in a car seat or booster seat that meets federal safety guidelines. Failure to comply with these rules could lead to fines and penalties, and more importantly, it may jeopardize your safety.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania operates under a “modified comparative negligence” system. This means that multiple parties can share fault in a car accident. Interestingly, even if you are partly to blame, you may still be eligible to file a claim against the other driver involved, as long as you are found to be less at fault than them.
However, there is a caveat. Any compensation you may receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. In essence, your own negligence doesn’t entirely bar you from recovering damages, but it may lessen the amount you’re entitled to.
Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania for Car Accidents
Time is of the essence when it comes to filing a car accident claim in Pennsylvania. The state has a statute of limitations, which generally gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Missing this deadline may result in losing your right to seek any compensation, so consulting an attorney as soon as possible is crucial.
The Role of Negligence in Car Accident Claims
Negligence is the crux of any personal injury claim. In the context of car accidents, negligence could manifest in numerous ways, including but not limited to:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Reckless driving
- Engaging in distracted driving behaviors
- Operating a vehicle without a valid license
When it comes to filing a claim, your attorney must demonstrate that the other driver’s negligence was the primary cause of the accident. If both parties are found to be negligent, it becomes a matter of determining the extent to which each party contributed to the accident.
For instance, you may not have been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. However, the other driver might have been speeding excessively. In such a situation, your attorney may contend that even though wearing a seatbelt might have lessened your injuries, it would not have prevented the accident due to the other driver’s reckless speeding.
FAQs: Common Questions About Car Accident Claims
1. Can I still file a claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?
Yes, you can still file a claim, but the compensation may be reduced based on your percentage of fault for not wearing a seatbelt.
2. What if the other driver is uninsured?
In such cases, your uninsured motorist coverage may come into play. If you don’t have this coverage, recovering damages may be more complicated, but not impossible.
3. What types of damages can I claim?
Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
5. What is the first step after a car accident?
First and foremost, seek medical attention. Then, consult an attorney to understand your rights and options.
6. How can an attorney help?
An attorney can help build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and guide you through the legal intricacies to maximize your compensation.
Seek Legal Guidance for Your Car Accident Case in Pennsylvania
If you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident in Pennsylvania—especially one where you weren’t wearing a seatbelt—legal intricacies can make or break your case. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help construct a strong defense, challenging any exaggerated claims of your fault and striving to maximize your rightful compensation.
Contact Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. Today For a Free Consultation About Your Car Accident Case
At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we represent clients across Pennsylvania who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. Don’t find yourself burdened by medical bills and stress, waiting for the other party or their insurer to act. Life after a car accident can be overwhelming, filling your days with medical appointments, insurance calls, and stress. You don’t have to navigate this difficult time alone. At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we stand by our commitment to offer personalized, transparent, and effective legal representation.
Why continue to shoulder the burden of uncertainty? Turn to our seasoned personal injury attorneys, who have consistently demonstrated their skill in handling complex accident cases across Pennsylvania. From the moment we take on your case, we pledge to keep you informed, fight for your rights, and work diligently to secure the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive.
Take the first step toward restoring your life to normalcy. Contact us today for your no-obligation, complimentary consultation.
The content provided in this article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. For tailored guidance on your case, it’s recommended to consult directly with our law firm.