Car Accident Lawyers in Erie, PA
What to do after a car crash in Pennsylvania
The Erie, PA Car Accident Lawyers at Bernard Stuczynski Barnett & Lager, practicing law since 1985, represent victims from Erie, PA to Bradford, PA, and understand that the months following a car accident are a difficult time for injured victims and their families. You’re hurt, your main method of transportation has been destroyed, you’re losing wages, and you’re getting calls from two different insurance companies wanting you to sign papers. You aren’t used to dealing with insurance adjusters and their tactics.
Do’s and Don’ts after a Car Accident:
- Assess yourself and others for injuries and call an ambulance if necessary.
- Get the medical treatment you need.
- Call the police and demand an accident report.
- Collect witnesses’ contact information.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s).
- Document everything and save all the paperwork.
- Organize your medical bills.
- Contact a lawyer for a Free Consultation
- Don’t sign anything.
- Don’t give the insurance company any recorded statements.
- Don’t agree to “handle it outside insurance.”
- Don’t fail to seek medical treatment because you think it’s expensive.
- Don’t agree to settle your case without at least a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Although easier said than done, the first step after a Pennsylvania car accident is to remain calm and realize that you need to put yourself first. Whether or not you’ve been injured, you need to call the police and make sure they write a report. However nice the negligent driver might be, don’t let them talk you into “handling it outside insurance.” While it might seem fair at the time, failing to report an auto accident to the police can cause you headaches down the road—especially if the other driver turns out to be uninsured. In fact, there are some situations in which your insurance company requires you to report the accident to the police if you want to collect from your own underinsured motorist coverage. The police will document the accident location, get witnesses, take down insurance information, and do a dozen other things you wouldn’t think to do.
Don’t talk to the insurance company after your accident!
After an accident is confusing, which is why so many people make the mistake of talking to an insurance company and giving a “recorded statement.” Don’t be fooled: you are under no obligation to give a statement to the other insurance company and anything you say will be used against you. If you’ve been injured in an accident accident, the best thing you can do is get the medical treatment you need and get a lawyer to deal with the rest.
Do I need to hire a car accident lawyer to get a settlement?
Whether or not you need a lawyer is a question that has puzzled people for years. The general rule of thumb is, “if you have to ask, you probably need a lawyer.”
More specifically, though, if you’re sure you were NOT hurt in the accident, and the only damage done was to your car (property damage), you might be able to successfully negotiate a fair value for your car repair with the insurance company. Insurance companies frequently use NADA evaluate your car’s value.
If you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you need to contact a local Erie, PA car accident lawyer immediately after receiving medical treatment. Our firm has offices in both Erie, PA and Smethport, PA, and we can help. Insurance adjusters are extremely good in talking you into doing things and accepting things you shouldn’t be doing or accepting. More importantly, they’re extremely good at lowballing you and convincing you to accept substantially less than your case is worth.
As experienced car accident lawyers, we know how to properly evaluate your case. We also know how to prove negligence and how to help build your case’s value such that you’re fairly compensated for the full extent of your injuries and lost wages. If an insurance company won’t offer fair value, we sue them.
Even if a lawsuit and trial aren’t necessary, unrepresented people simply do not have the negotiating power that attorneys have. Not only are we experienced negotiators and litigators, insurance companies know that we will file a lawsuit and are willing to go to trial if they don’t offer you a fair settlement value. Because of this, they almost always offer our clients more money after hiring us. Without a lawyer and the ability to file a lawsuit and go to trial, the insurance company knows they can lowball you and there isn’t anything you can do about it—except hire an Erie, PA lawyer.
What does it cost to hire a lawyer in Erie, PA for my car accident?
Getting a Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer is easier and cheaper than you think. Our Erie, PA and Smethport, PA accident attorneys handle car accident cases on what’s called a “contingency” basis. What this means is that there is no fee without a recovery. We don’t bill you hourly—in fact, we don’t send you any bills at all. We simply agree to represent you for a percentage of whatever we get for you. If we don’t get you a recovery for your injuries, we don’t get paid. You will never be worse off by hiring us. In fact, we front all costs and litigation expenses.
How do I hire an Erie, PA car accident lawyer?
Although it might seem intimidating, hiring a lawyer in Erie, PA or Smethport, PA is easier than you think. If you give us a call, you’ll speak to one of our lawyers about your case. Although one of our great staff members will answer the phone, you’ll speak with a lawyer the day you call (not a paralegal!), we’ll schedule you in for a meeting that week, and we’ll take care of all the paperwork. We understand that you might be too hurt to travel. If that’s the case, we’re happy to travel to your home or wherever it is easiest for you to meet.
How does my car insurance affect my Pennsylvania auto accident claim?
The type and amounts of car insurance coverage that you carry can have a profound effect on your case. For more general information about what your coverage means and how it affects you, see our page on Understanding Car Insurance or call our Erie, PA Lawyers or our Smethport, PA Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
What’s the next step?
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you need a lawyer. If you’re in or around Erie, PA, call our office for a free consultation at 814-452-6232. If you’re in the Bradford, PA region, call our Smethport office at 814-887-6009. We’ll take care of the rest.