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Here’s What You Need to Do to Protect Yourself After a Car Crash

Every day, innocent drivers and their passengers are injured when they are involved in crashes with other cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles that are being driven by other drivers who are drunk or distracted or doing stupid things on our roadways.

These kinds of crashes happen when innocent drivers least expect them.

That’s where it is critical to know what you should do if you are involved in a vehicle crash when another driver’s vehicle strikes your vehicle while you are operating it.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Svenler

Now is a good time to review these steps as fall weather and winter driving weather approach, bringing their own challenges and risks for drivers, with slippery roadways, snow, ice and more.

If you are involved in a vehicle crash, there are several key things for you to keep in mind while you wait for law enforcement officials to respond to the crash. One of the first and best steps you can take is to stay calm and aware of the situation, according to a list of tips provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Drivers should follow some basic procedures after an accident, Dr. William Van Tassel, manager of AAA Driver Training Programs, said in a statement. “It does not matter who is at fault, the most important thing to do first is make sure everyone is OK, then seek medical and law enforcement help and know what to do to protect yourself from legal or financial problems down the road.”

You should always be prepared for a post-crash emergency by having a pen and paper, disposable camera or cellphone camera, and a copy of your insurance card easily accessible to minimize your stress if an accident occurs, according to AAA.

If anyone is injured due to the crash, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. If medical attention is not needed, make sure your vehicle and any other vehicles are out of the way or are moved out of the way of other motorists who are driving nearby to prevent other vehicles from being involved in the crash.

Use your vehicle’s hazard lights and set out warning flares or reflective triangles to let other drivers know to use caution near the scene. Wait in a safe area until police arrive.

Definitely call the police and file a report, regardless of what other drivers say, according to AAA. “If the police do not come to the scene to open an investigation, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or automobile insurance agency in the days after a crash,” AAA recommends. “Having a report on file may help later if a liability claim is filed.”

Be sure to exchange and write down all identifying information for all other drivers, as well as from any witnesses. This information will be needed for insurance claims and any legal actions. Make sure you write down all names, addresses, email addresses, vehicle information including makes, models and years for all cars involved, vehicle identification and license plate numbers for all vehicles and the driver’s license numbers for all involved operators. Also be sure to get the names of all insurance companies of other drivers, as well as their insurance policy numbers. It’s also important to use your cellphone camera or another camera to take photos of the location, people involved and of the damaged vehicles to document the crash, if you are able to do so.

After the accident has been documented with police and you have recorded information for other drivers, be sure to report the incident to your insurance company to begin a claim. Many insurance companies today have staff available 24/7 and can assist immediately. Have your agent’s phone number in your cellphone for such emergencies.

Obviously, if you have been seriously injured you won’t be able to take the steps listed above. Most of that information will be available later through police reports and insurance documents.

Knowing what to do ahead of time, however, can make the post-crash process simpler later. You can be one of your own best advocates in a crash because you can help provide the information which will show that the other driver is at fault in such a scenario.

There’s one other important thing you need to keep in mind — you also need to make sure that you actually have enough insurance coverage to protect you, your family and others if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle crash. Read the details of this critical issue in another recent MyPhillyLawyer blog post.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle accident caused by another driver anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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$15.8 Million Jury Verdict to Bride-to-be’s Mother Hurt in Car Crash

A Pittsburgh-area woman was awarded $15.8 million in damages by a jury to compensate her after she suffered severe brain injuries in a 2010 car crash that happened as she was heading to the rehearsal dinner for her daughter’s wedding.

The victim, Brenda Gump-Schragl, who was 52 at the time of the collision, was in a coma for five weeks after the June 11, 2010, crash, which occurred in a road construction zone, according to a Sept. 16 story in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The crash happened the day before the wedding of the victim’s daughter’, the paper reported. The incident occurred on Route 51 in Pleasant Hills near Pittsburgh, as Gump-Schragl’s son, Daniel Gump, “tried to turn left from northbound Route 51 into Primanti Bros. restaurant, where a rehearsal dinner was scheduled for his sister, Dana Gump. Oncoming traffic was backed up in the left lane as drivers merged from two lanes to one for the construction area.”

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Spiritartist

When a driver in the left lane allowed Daniel Gump to turn his car toward his destination, he didn’t see a pickup truck that was approaching and his vehicle was struck by the pickup, the story stated.

Gump-Schragl’s lawsuit “contended that the construction zone was dangerous and no improvements were made after several earlier collisions in the same area,” the paper reported.

The plaintiff settled earlier related cases with PennDOT, which managed the work zone, and with Adam Mains, the driver of the pickup truck, the story reported. In 2010, Mains was found guilty of speeding, driving too fast for conditions and careless driving near a work zone, in connection with the crash, the story stated.

The verdict by the Allegheny County jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the remaining defendant, Lane Construction, a PennDOT contractor, to pay the entire $15.8 million award. Lane Construction is based in Connecticut.

The construction company is planning an appeal of the verdict.

The victim’s future medical and care expenses total an estimated $4.8 million, the story reported. She is still unable to use her left hand and had to relearn how to walk, the story stated.

Gump-Schragl’s daughter’s wedding was postponed for one year due to the crash.

At least five other crashes had previously occurred in the construction zone—two of which were on the same day as Gump’s accident, according to a Sept. 17 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The victim suffered a closed head injury from the crash and had to be resuscitated on the scene by a relative who was an EMT, the story reported. At a hospital, she underwent a partial temporal lobectomy to relieve pressure from brain swelling, and she was diagnosed with an acute subdural hematoma and hemorrhagic brain contusions, the story stated. She also suffered torso injuries, including multiple fractured ribs and a pneumothorax, and had a tracheostomy and gastric feeding tube installed.

Her treatment continued with physical and occupational therapy, but she continues to “suffer from cognitive deficits, including memory loss and poor judgment, and continued to have left-sided paralysis,” the story reported.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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$1.6 Million Settlement in Car Crash Caused By a Domino’s Pizza Driver

A former Connecticut woman was riding as a rear seat passenger in a friend’s car when it was smashed from behind by a car being driven by a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver on Dec. 22, 2011 in Mansfield, Conn. The car she was riding in was then propelled into another car in front of it, which was being operated by a Connecticut State Patrol officer.

The impact was so powerful that the victim, Reiko Sugai-Fernandez, was thrown about inside her friend’s car, knocking her unconscious, according to an Aug. 28 story in The Connecticut Law Tribune. Now Sugai-Fernandez has been awarded a $1.6 million settlement to compensate her for the severe injuries she received in the crash, including a closed brain injury that caused cognitive changes in her ability to read and retain information, according to the story.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

On the evening of the crash, Sugai-Fernandez was in the back seat in a car driven by a friend, Erin O’Neil, according to the story. Behind their car, a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, Samantha Stebbins, plowed her car into O’Neil’s vehicle as O’Neil was stopping to make a left turn into an apartment complex, the story reported.

After the crash, Sugai-Fernandez was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where she was diagnosed with a closed head brain injury, then flown to another hospital by Life Star helicopter, where she underwent emergency surgery to reduce swelling from her brain, the Law Tribune reported.

“To reduce swelling in Sugai-Fernandez’s brain, a portion of her skull was removed and preserved in a freezer for several weeks; after the brain swelling subsided, the portion of the skull was reattached,” the story continued. While her recovery continued, she wore a prosthetic section of skull. She then underwent extensive rehabilitation at a rehabilitation facility to help her begin to recover from her severe brain injury.

Following her rehabilitation, Sugai-Fernandez moved to New York City and enrolled in school where she began to notice cognitive problems that occurred after the car crash, the story reported.

That’s when the victim then filed a lawsuit  in 2013 against Stebbins, who was the Domino’s Pizza driver; Stebbins’ mother, Jill, who owned the car that that caused the crash; and the owner of the Domino’s franchise where Stebbins worked, which is called Southern Connecticut Pizza, the Law Tribune reported. Also sued was the international Domino’s Pizza Corp.

Eventually, the two sides agreed to a $1.6 million offer to allow the victim to be compensated, the story reported. Under the settlement, $100,000 comes from Stebbins’ car insurance, while $1.5 million comes from Southern Connecticut Pizza.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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Car Insurance, Risk and You: Why Better Coverage is A Good Idea

Having car insurance for your cars, SUV’s, motorcycles and trucks is the law in Pennsylvania. But just having insurance isn’t enough. You also need to make sure that you actually have enough insurance coverage to protect you, your family and others if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle accidents happen every day, often injuring people who have done nothing to contribute to causing the accident which has ensnared their lives. Victims are injured when other cars crash into their vehicles or in a myriad of other tragic ways.

Yet learning after such an accident that one’s automobile insurance or the other driver’s insurance isn’t adequate to compensate them for a serious injury is one of the toughest things we have to discuss with our clients here at MyPhillyLawyer. It’s a relatively common scenario, and one that we’ve seen over and over again recently involving a spate of cases that have come into our doors.

Two Emergency Medical Technicians lower a crash victim onto a stretcher. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Spiritartist

Here’s how it works. There are several key categories of insurance coverage for vehicles, including liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist coverages and medical expenses. If you only have $15,000 of state minimum uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, then that is the full amount that your insurance company would have to give to you under an uninsured motorist claim. And that is simply not enough coverage if your injuries are serious or catastrophic. In fact, this kind of scenario is exactly why every driver on the road in Pennsylvania and every other state really needs to do a careful review of their insurance coverage annually to be sure they are well-protected for potential injuries caused by others who are not adequately insured.

In addition, there is a minimum $15,000 liability coverage requirement in Pennsylvania that was set some 30 years ago and has not been changed since then, which is absurd. It’s a travesty of justice for working people who drive around thinking that they have adequate insurance coverage and then find out how wrong those assumptions can be when the unthinkable happens and they are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. When is our Legislature going to do something about this?

It was a whole different world 30 years ago when the $15,000 minimum coverage limit was established, and unbelievably, no provisions were ever created to increase that figure annually for inflation and for changing times.

Another coverage area where drivers often find they are underinsured is for medical expenses in the event of a crash. The minimum amount for coverage in Pennsylvania is $5,000, and that miniscule, inadequate amount is what most people carry to help keep their insurance premiums lower.

Uninsured Motorist coverage, and the related Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, are actually the most important types of coverage that you can have for your vehicle, even more so than collision coverage. Collision covers the vehicle physically, but better protecting you as the driver – and your passengers – should be viewed as a smarter investment of your policy dollars. Drivers should look at raising their collision coverage deductibles so that they can afford to pay for higher UM and UIM coverage which will better protect them against another driver’s irresponsibility.

Drivers can possibly even save money by increasing their collision deductible (and lowering their costs for collision coverage) while still obtaining increased UM and UIM coverage of $300,000 per incident.

Yes, by raising your vehicle’s collision deductible, you are taking a known risk on having to pay more if your car is damaged, but the significantly higher UM and UIM coverages will protect you if God forbid you are seriously injured in a crash by another driver.

Not having enough UM and UIM coverage is a giant risk to take. Your life, livelihood, your work and your family can all be affected in an instant if you are seriously injured and are without adequate UM and UIM coverage. In the blink of an eye a family can have a catastrophic loss and if you don’t protect yourself, nobody else is out there to protect you.

Insurance is something you likely spend a lot of money on, right up there with mortgages or rent, food and other essentials. Don’t listen blindly to your insurance agent for their recommendations for such coverage. I’ve seen client after client get bad advice from insurance agents which then leaves them with inadequate coverage that will haunt them later when a tragic accident occurs.

If you suffer a life changing injury and can’t return to work after a crash caused by another driver who has inadequate insurance, your life and future can hang in the balance. The only way you can be adequately and fairly compensated after such an event is to have the highest amount of UM and UIM that you can afford. That can be accomplished without spending more on your existing policy by increasing your vehicle collision deductible, as I mentioned earlier. If you are going to take a chance, take the chance on the property damage. That’s better than having the unknown risk of having life changing catastrophic injuries and not having the money to pay for care.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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$850,000 Settlement To Brain Injury Victim in Armored Truck Crash

An $850,000 settlement has been reached in the case of a driver whose suffers from a traumatic brain injury caused when his car was struck hard by an armored truck that ran a red light in April 2012 in Bensalem, Pa.

The victim, Frank Jazlovietcki, was 29 at the time of the crash, which happened when an armored truck owned by Garda CL Atlantic Inc., smashed into his car, according to an Aug. 19 story in The Legal Intelligencer. The case was being heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The seven-ton armored truck, which was being driven by Garda employee Kevin Moss, struck the victim’s car on the passenger side, and then pushed the car into another vehicle and onto a grassy area, the story reported. Jazlovietcki was trapped in his car after the crash. Jazlovietcki was driving northbound on Brookwood Drive at Street Road in Bensalem on April 21, 2012, when the crash occurred.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/sshepherd

“At the hospital, Jazlovietcki was diagnosed with a radial shaft fracture of the left arm, and closed head injury,” the story reported. “The CT scan showed a laceration of the scalp over the right posterior frontal parietal region, as well as a subcutaneous hematoma.” His left arm was also splinted after the crash.

Several days later, Jazlovietcki returned to the hospital on April 23, 2012, “complaining of difficulty breathing, increased neck, head, jaw, left arm and right hand pain.” Tests were conducted including X-rays, as well as EKG and CT scans, the story said.

Jazlovietcki continued to have other health difficulties after the crash, including vertigo, blurred and double vision and memory loss, the story reported. He also experienced radiating pain down his legs and arms, severe wrist pain, and ongoing headaches, back pain, rib cage pain and pain in his left arm, according to the report. An orthopedist later diagnosed Jazlovietcki with a cerebral concussion, cervical, thoracic and lumbosacral pain and strain and myofasical syndrome, the report said. He continued to have ongoing medical issues.

Another doctor, a neuropsychologist, later diagnosed the victim with concentration, speech and short-term memory problems, according to the story. The doctor also diagnosed him as suffering from anxiety and depression and unable to resume work, as well as from a traumatic brain disorder. He had been employed as a material handler in a K-mart store.

On July 28, the case was settled for $850,000.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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$3 Million Settlement to Woman Severely Hurt in Verizon Truck Crash

As Patricia Pinkerton drove her car and waited at a red light on Feb. 27, 2012 on Garrett Road in Upper Darby, Pa., a Verizon bucket truck slammed into the rear of her vehicle as the truck driver was using his cellphone for work. The rear-end crash caused Pinkerton to suffer a traumatic brain injury and spinal injuries.

To compensate her for her serious injuries, Pinkerton recently was awarded a $3 million settlement from Verizon in the midst of a trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, according to an Aug. 12 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

At the time of the crash, Pinkerton was an operating-room nurse who was on her way home after working at Bryn Mawr Hospital, according to the plaintiffs’ pretrial memorandum, the story reported. “Verizon’s truck slammed into Patricia Pinkerton’s car with such force that she was knocked unconscious and had to be rescued by passersby from her car that caught fire,” according to court papers referred to in the story.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/creatingmore

After the crash, Pinkerton was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury in addition to spinal injuries that caused problems with her memory, the paper reported. In addition, when she tried to return to work after the crash, she “found herself handing surgeons the wrong instruments during operations as well as giving out the wrong medications to patients,” the story stated.

The Verizon bucket truck driver, Robert McCollick, said in court papers that he was using his Verizon cellphone just before the crash as he sat in his truck and that he looked down for a moment to get a job ticket number for a repair assignment, the story reported. “When I looked up, I saw the plaintiff’s car in front of me,” he explained in his statement. “I hit my brakes but was unable to avoid striking the plaintiff’s car at a very low speed.”

The crash ended Pinkerton’s 32-year career as a nurse, which Pinkerton argued to the court was caused by “Verizon’s policy of having its employees check the details of daily jobs on their cellphones,” the story reported. “Court papers also noted that McCollick had been reprimanded by Verizon for a prior accident.”

The injuries suffered by Pinkerton in the crash left her unable to continue her work as a nurse and have caused her difficulties with sleeping, eating, dressing herself and remembering to pick up her daughter from school, according to court papers. “Though Verizon has a policy that prohibits the use of cellphones during the operation of its trucks, in conscious disregard for the health, welfare and safety of the community, and Patty Pinkerton, Verizon disregarded that policy and communicated with McCollick on his cellphone while he operated its eight-ton truck,” the court papers continued.

The defense had argued that the victim’s injuries were not necessarily permanent, the story reported. Verizon had offered to settle the case before trial for $200,000 and then for $300,000 on the day of jury selection, one of the victim’s attorneys told The Legal Intelligencer.

The case highlighted the continuing issue of the risks of distracted driving by vehicle operators.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits

$6,750,000.00 - Brain injury from fall off of ATV while on vacation in Dominican Republic.

$2,000,000.00 - Tractor Trailer collision resulting in death of motorist.

Structured Settlements

$28,000,000.00 - Structured Settlement - Brain Damage injury with permanent cognitive dysfunction due to fall into unsecured swimming pool.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

$20,000,000.00 - Birth injury causing significant brain damage.

$3,500,000.00 - Failure to provide appropriate medical care in an emergency department leading to the death of 48 year old patient.

Premises Liability Lawsuits

$1,560,000.00 - Fall from scaffolding at construction site resulting in multiple fractures.

$450,000.00 - Injured arm, neck and back slipping on ice in parking lot.

Other Accident Injury Lawsuits

$500,000.00 - Death of a 79 year old woman due to abuse by home health care aide.

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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., represent clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the surrounding Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County, and cities such as Media, Doylestown, and Norristown. We are also proud to serve South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, in Camden County, New Jersey.

Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C. | Two Penn Center Plaza, | 1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1410 | Philadelphia, PA 19102

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