Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys
Pennsylvania has one of the largest populations of any state in the country, and its home to several large metropolitan areas. Philadelphia is the sixth largest city in the United States, and Pittsburgh ranks in the top thirty on the list. Due to a high population density, Pennsylvania's most crowded areas can have bad traffic congestion, with lots of cars on the road. On the other hand, the average highway fatalities are lower than the nationwide statistics.
Statewide Road Conditions
Even though the fatality rates are lower than average on the highways, 37% of roads statewide are considered to be in poor or mediocre condition. Accidents on rural roads have a fatality rate that is two and a half times higher than the rate on the highway. In addition, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the state's largest urban areas, both have issues with the condition of their roads. Pittsburgh has 66% of its road graded as poor or mediocre, and Philadelphia has 73%. Unfortunately, the poor road conditions are to blame for many fatal accidents each year. Drivers should learn what to do after an accident in order to ensure the safest possible outcome for everyone involved.
The first thing to do immediately following an accident is to see if you or your passengers are injured. Then, if possible, move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic. When you're in a safe spot away from oncoming traffic, find out if any other drivers involved have been injured. If so, call emergency services right away. You'll then need to check your car for damage, look at the accident scene, and exchange contact information with any other drivers. Talking to witnesses is also a good idea as their point of view could be helpful when it comes to getting compensation for the accident.
Since Pennsylvania has a choice no-fault system, you'll need to proceed differently based on what type of coverage you've chosen. With the no-fault option, you'll file a claim with your insurance provider. If you have the no-fault option but have experienced a permanent disability or disfigurement, you can choose to go outside the no-fault system in order to sue the other driver.
When an accident results in severe injuries or a high amount of property damage, drivers with full tort coverage may need to seek compensation in a court of law, and they should get in touch with an attorney who deals with auto accidents. If you've suffered a minor injury or minimal property damage, you can probably deal with the claim without going to court. In some instances, it may be unclear who was at fault for the accident. Talking to an attorney can be a smart move in this case because they can help you decided whether or not to move forward with litigation.
Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Policy
If you have chosen to have full tort coverage, you'll probably be able to get compensation for your damages and medical expenses if you're judged to be less responsible for the accident than the other driver. However, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which driver was more at fault. Pennsylvania has what's referred to as a modified negligence rule. If a driver is less than 50% at fault for an accident, they can get compensation from an insurance claim or court case.
The System of Demerit Points
Like most states, Pennsylvania drivers can receive demerit points on their licenses for committing traffic violations. However, the state also provides a unique incentive to drivers who have already accumulated points. If a driver has no infractions over the course of 12 months, three points will be subtracted from the total number. Drivers who maintain a record of zero for 12 months will have future points offenses treated as their first.
When a driver reaches six points, they are then required to take a safety exam within the next 30 days. A passing grade will result in two points being removed from their record. A failing grade, meanwhile, while result in a suspended license. If you incur a total of six points for a second or third time, there will be a mandatory PennDOT hearing, which may result in a 15 or 30 day suspension. Failing to show up to the hearing will mean an automatic suspension. Drivers who have accumulated more than 11 points will have a suspension that's equal to five days per each point. Upon a fourth occurrence, drivers can have their license suspended for a year.
Tiered DUI Penalties
Pennsylvania has three-tiered system for DUI violations. If a driver has a BAC of 0.08-0.099%, they fall under the first tier. Regardless of how many previous convictions a person has, they'll need to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program. The first offense will also result in six months probation and a $300 fine. For a second conviction, a person can face five days to six months in jail as well as a year-long license suspension. The third offense results in a year-long license suspension, a year-long installation of an ignition interlock device, and up to two years in jail time.
The second tier of penalties is for drivers with a BAC of 0.10%-0.159%. The third tier is for drivers found to have a BAC over 0.16%. Drivers under the influence of other controlled substances also fall into the third tier. The top two tiers have progressively harsher penalties. On top of safety courses and alcohol treatment programs, convicted drivers can face up to five years in prison and $10,000 fine.
The state's DUI laws are intended to be comprehensive. However, DUI is not a felony in Pennsylvania. The longest a driver can have their license suspended is 18 months.