Steps to Take After a Personal Injury Traffic Accident

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By Dennis Plank, Attorney

All drivers in Lancaster County (and elsewhere) have a duty to exercise reasonable care when they are on the road in order to keep people safe. If you or a loved one are injured in a car or truck collision as a result of others’ carelessness, you often have a right to recoup your losses for personal injury. That can include medical bills, loss of work, loss of future work and, in many cases, pain and suffering.

If you or a family member have been injured in a car or truck accident in Lancaster County as the result of someone else’s negligence, there are two important steps you should take:

First, see a doctor. Failing to get prompt medical attention, no matter how minor your injuries may seem, can have serious physical – and legal – consequences.

Seeing a Doctor after a Traffic Accident Helps You Identify Delayed Symptoms

You may not see any blood. You may not feel any pain. But even a seemingly minor traffic accident can cause internal bleeding and other internal injuries that can get worse – or even life-threatening – if not treated. Sometimes these injuries may not produce symptoms for hours or even days after an accident. Additionally, your body may respond to the trauma of a traffic accident by producing endorphins, a type of hormone the body releases in response to pain and stress. When combined with adrenalin, endorphins can mask pain and delay injury symptoms.

Seeing a Doctor Immediately After a Collision Establishes an Important Medical Record

Be sure to tell your doctor any and all symptoms you may be experiencing after a car or truck accident, even if they seem minor. Symptoms, that seem insignificant to you, may be signs of serious injury. Don’t self-diagnose or heroically suffer in silence. A doctor will record the details of your traffic accident and the symptoms you are experiencing, whether it’s something obvious like headaches or something vague like inability to sleep or confusion. A doctor will also record his or her own observations after a complete examination. Remember, if it’s not in your medical records, it will be hard to prove in an insurance claim.

Failing to See a Doctor After a Car Accident Could Cost You Financially

If you have any symptoms, no matter how mild, it is important to see a doctor within 72 hours of a car or truck collision, since that a time period insurance companies often use when evaluating a claim. Failing to get prompt medical attention, or prematurely reporting that you are not injured, can make it easier for insurance companies to drastically reduce your settlement amount or even deny your claim.

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Next, Consult with a Lancaster Attorney to Discuss Personal Injury

Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, meaning each party in a traffic accident receives compensation for medical expenses and lost wages from their own insurers, regardless of who is at fault. As part of their insurance coverage, PA drivers can elect the full tort option, which allows them to seek compensation for pain and suffering from an at-fault driver. Even drivers with limited-tort coverage may be able to seek compensation depending on the extent of their injuries.

While you may think you know who is at fault in an accident, under Pennsylvania law your damage award may be reduced if a jury determines you were partly at fault. If you’ve been injured in a car or truck accident, contact Going and Plank. We can help you collect the necessary evidence, in order to pursue a successful claim again the at-fault driver.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Negotiate a Fair Settlement

A settlement is a negotiated agreement that allows the injured party to forego a lengthy lawsuit in favor of immediate payment of an agreeable sum of money. A settlement is often preferred over a jury trial because it is quicker, less expensive and doesn’t rely on a jury decision. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine a fair value for your settlement, based on tangibles such as lost wages and medical bills, and intangibles like mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Mitigating factors, such as shared liability or failure to seek prompt medical treatment, may reduce the value of your claim. If the insurance company rejects the initial claim, a lawyer may be able to continue to negotiate until a settlement is reached. Contact me at Going and Plank to help you negotiate a fair settlement.

Your Lancaster Lawyer Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit if Appropriate

If the other side fails to negotiate in good faith, or if the settlement offer is substantially lower than what you believe is fair, you may want to consider a personal injury lawsuit. Pennsylvania residents have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit, giving them adequate time to determine the full impact of the injury, from long-term medical problems to loss of wages. A personal injury attorney can help you file a lawsuit, gather evidence and prepare you for trial. A lawyer also has knowledge of prior verdicts and settlements in similar cases.

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A Car or Truck Collision Can Injure You in Many Ways

The impact and stress of a traffic accident can result in serious harm. Many types of injuries qualify for a personal injury lawsuit, including bone fractures, neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries, development of neck and back pain, chronic pain, nerve damage, deep lacerations, physical disfigurement and scarring, severe burns, cranial and skull damage, brain injury, cognitive impairment, harm to mental acuity, loss of body parts, damage to mobility or dexterity, damage to eyesight, damage to hearing, dental damage, and injuries that prohibit you from doing your job or require you to find a new one. Contact Going and Plank to review your case and determine if it is worth the time and expense of going to trial.

Going and Plank offers free consultations to discuss your personal injury case. Contact us today to ensure you are fairly compensated.

Maggie Vergenes

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