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When Does a Traffic Injury Warrant a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Dennis Plank Bankruptcy AttorneyBy Dennis L. Plank, Attorney

It’s not always easy to identify injuries immediately after a traffic accident. The people involved are often excited or distracted. Bodies often respond to the trauma of an accident by releasing endorphins that mask pain and delay the onset of symptoms. Indications of injuries, especially those sustained in the neck, head, and nervous system, may not appear until days later.

Many traffic accidents have serious physical and financial implications. Pennsylvania law provides for compensation in the form of a personal injury lawsuit.

When a driver or pedestrian is hurt in a vehicle accident, many wonder if they should pursue a personal injury lawsuit to compensate for pain and suffering and to cover lost income. Even if they’re not sure if they want to pursue legal action, everyone injured in an accident should consult a doctor and a personal injury attorney. Here’s why.

Some Types of Injury Don’t Have Immediate Symptoms

Accidents that involve a vehicle at any speed usually produce jarring impact that can result in injuries to tissues, muscles, and joints. Because a body in shock often produces adrenaline, the victim may not immediately recognize pain. In fact, some types of serious injuries take days or even weeks to become apparent. Anytime a person is involved in a minor or major collision, they should play it safe and see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid pain or even life-threatening issues down the road.


Pennsylvania is a No-Fault Auto Insurance State but Claims can Still be Filed Against an At-Fault Driver

Pennsylvania is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means that each party’s own insurance pays for medical expenses and lost wages resulting from an accident, up to coverage limits, regardless of who caused the accident. PA law also allows drivers to opt out of the no-fault system depending on the coverage they choose.

Individuals who choose limited tort auto coverage have restricted rights to seek compensation for injuries caused by other drivers. Additionally, limited tort does not allow for financial compensation for pain and suffering or other non-financial damages unless the injuries meet a certain threshold.

Full tort coverage insurance allows individuals and their families unlimited rights to recover compensation from at-fault drivers, not only for medical expenses and lost wages but also for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages. Under Pennsylvania law, however, the court may reduce damages if a jury determines that the victim was partly at fault.

Bottom line: PA laws and insurance systems are complicated. A Lancaster County personal injury attorney can help victims determine their chances of pursuing a successful claim against an at-fault driver.

Timely Doctor Visits Keep You Safe and Protect Your Rights

Seeking prompt medical attention after an accident not only protects your health, but it’s also an important step to seeking fair insurance compensation. See a doctor immediately if possible, and never wait more than 72 hours to get a medical evaluation.

When victims wait more than 72 hours, an insurance company may try to argue that since the victim waited so long to see a medical professional, the injuries were minor. If the victim postpones a medical exam, insurers may also contend that the injuries were sustained elsewhere or that the condition was pre-existing. Waiting to see a doctor until symptoms show up could result in a significant reduction in compensation.

Medical Records are Crucial in Lancaster County Personal Injury Cases

Medical records are important evidence in any personal injury case. Victims can help ensure accurate medical records by sharing all details of the accident with their physicians. It’s important to report all discomfort or symptoms, even if they seem minor.


Every medical professional is obligated to document all details about the accident, the patient’s symptoms, associated test results, and recommended treatment. These thorough medical records are a key part of a successful personal injury claim. Medical records and reports will also be used to calculate damages.

It’s also helpful for the patient to keep all healthcare records, receipts, a list of prescriptions, and records of any devices used such as crutches or braces. If physical therapy is advised, keep those records as well.

Contact a Lancaster Personal Injury Lawyer

An experienced personal injury lawyer can calculate fair compensation for pain and other physical limitations along with emotional and mental trauma. The attorney speaks to the insurance companies on behalf of their clients. Insurance companies also look for reasons to reject claims, such as a lack of medical evidence. Once an attorney becomes involved, insurers often prefer to negotiate an agreement, known as a settlement, rather than go to a jury trial.

When you contact the Law Office of Going and Plank, we don’t charge for initial consultations. We represent injured individuals on a contingency fee basis, so our personal injury clients will not pay an attorney’s fee unless we obtain a financial recovery for you. We can also calculate fair compensation for physical pain and other physical limitations along with emotional and mental trauma.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit if Necessary

Pennsylvania residents have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. As a personal injury attorney with over 40 years of experience, I am able to efficiently gather evidence and prepare for trial

Lancaster County residents injured in a traffic accident should contact The Law Offices of Going and Plank in downtown Lancaster for a free consultation to review their options. We help clients determine if they have a strong case, help them navigate the legal system, and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

The Law Offices of Going and Plank are proud to participate in the MetLife Legal Plans.

Want to learn more auto collisions and personal injury? Check out these articles.

Traffic Collisions can Have Long-Term Consequences

Personal Injury: What to do After a Traffic Collision

Personal Injury Legal Terms You Need to Know

Steps to Take After a Traffic Collision


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