If you or anyone you know has been injured or killed in an auto accident, you may be thinking of bringing a legal claim. But when is filing suit appropriate? How long do you have to file suit after an accident? What types of things can you expect if you decide to litigate the matter? These are all important questions that should be considered before deciding to take legal action to rectify damages. The civil justice system seeks to make people “whole”; the idea is that someone or something took an action that led to the injury or death of another person. The system is designed to compensate the person for their accident or injury, and maybe even provide them with a little something extra for their inconvenience, suffering and trauma.
Commencing a Civil Action in Pennsylvania
After an accident occurs, a person only has a certain amount of time to decide to bring a lawsuit. This is known as a statute of limitations, a time cap placed on most civil actions. Many negligence-based actions in Pennsylvania have a statute of limitations of two years. This two years is from the date the injured person knew or should have known about the injury and connected it with the triggering event.
Once a person decides to bring a suit, they need to file a complaint at law. This document makes the general allegations about the events that the person writing the complaint, known as the plaintiff, says happened and caused their injury. This document is “served,” or formally given to, the wrongdoer, the defendant. The defendant has an enumerated amount of days to “answer” the complaint and appear in court to affirm or deny the allegations set forth. While it is not required that a complaint be written by an attorney, a well-crafted complaint can significantly increase your chances at success in litigation.
The Litigation Process
Since most of the time a person does not simply admit fault, the litigation process moves forward. The defendant may obtain an attorney. You may be required to produce documents and proof of your injury, such as medical records, bills, or statements from physicians. You and/or your physician(s) may be required to give sworn testimony in a deposition where the lawyers may ask you questions about what happened. All of these things are part of the process known as discovery. In many civil cases, at some point during discovery, one side will make a settlement offer, which will subsequently be negotiated between the parties. If the parties fail to come to an amicable resolution by the trial date, the case will proceed to trial.
Pennsylvania Auto Accident Attorneys
Settlement or reaching a favorable verdict in an auto accident claim may lead to compensation. This can be in the form of actual (also known as compensatory) damages, that is, money damages actually incurred such as medical expenses, funeral expenses, rehabilitation, lost time from work, etc. Punitive (exemplary) damages may be awarded in certain cases to essentially “make an example” out of the wrongful conduct. Punitive damages are more common when individuals are alleging a corporation or entity caused their alleged injury or accident.
If you have been injured or know someone who has been killed in an auto accident or any kind of accident due to the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of another, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your rights and what to expect in bringing a civil lawsuit, you need experienced auto accident attorneys on your side. The knowledgeable auto accident attorneys at Solnick & Associates LLC are always available to consult with you about your potential claim. Do not hesitate to contact us today.