On this page, our car accident lawyers will look at Philadelphia auto accident lawsuits. We will review key points of Pennsylvania law relevant to auto tort cases and we will discuss how much settlement compensation plaintiffs typically get in Philadelphia car accident cases.
Auto Accidents in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has a population of 1.6 million, which makes it the 6th biggest city in the U.S. The larger Philadelphia metropolitan area has a population of 6.2 million, which includes the suburban areas of Philly that are across the river in New Jersey.
In 2022, Philadelphia County (which is basically the city of Philadelphia) had 8,714 police reported accidents. 5,864 of those accidents involved physical injuries. There were 134 fatal vehicle accidents during that same time frame.
Philadelphia Auto Accident Laws
Philadelphia car accident injury cases are governed by Pennsylvania law. There are at least 3 separate areas of law that typically apply in auto accident cases: (1) traffic laws (rules of the road), (2) vehicle insurance laws, which are set forth in the Philadelphia statutory code, and (3) tort law which applies to liability for injuries. Below is a brief outline of all the key Pennsylvania laws that apply in car accident lawsuits.
2-Year Statute of Limitations for Philadelphia Car Accident Lawsuits
Pennsylvania has a 2-year statute of limitations that applies to auto accident injury cases. This means that you have to file your lawsuit within 2-years of the date of your car accident or your case will be barred by the SOL (42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(2)). There are some very limited exceptions to this rule, such as when the plaintiff is a minor at the time of the accident. But for the most part, you should assume that 2-years is the maximum time you can wait to file suit.
Modified Comparative Fault in Philadelphia Auto Accident Cases
In many auto accident cases, the at-fault driver (defendant) will argue that the plaintiff’s own negligence or traffic rule violation was partly to blame for the accident. In these shared fault cases, Pennsylvania follows the legal rule known as modified comparative fault. Under comparative fault, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage share of fault. So if a plaintiff is found to be 10% at-fault for their own injuries, their damages would be reduced by 10%. Under the modified version of comparative fault adopted in Pennsylvania, if a plaintiff’s share of fault exceeds 50%, then they are totally barred from recovering any damages.
Damages Available in Philadelphia Car Accident Cases
Pennsylvania does not have any maximum limits or caps on the amount of damages that plaintiffs can be awarded in an car accident injury lawsuits. Plaintiffs in Philadelphia auto tort cases are entitled to the full range of economic and non-economic tort damages available in personal injury cases. These categories of damages in Philadelphia car accident are listed below:
Medical Expenses: Pennsylvania law give car accident plaintiffs the right to recover damages for all medical expenses related to injuries suffered in the accident. Damages are available not just for medical expenses you have already incurred, but also future medical expenses they expect to incur if they are related to injuries suffered in the accident. For example, if you injure your back in a car accident and you doctor says you need back surgery next year, that cost can be included in your damages.
Lost Income: Plaintiffs in Philadelphia are supposed to get damages for any and all lost income or lost wages that they incurred as a result of injuries caused by the car accident. This includes not just past lost income, but also future lost income. For example, if you suffer a permanent injury that will prevent you from working for the next 6 months or a year, you would be entitled to lost wages for that period.
Pain & Suffering: Philadelphia law also allows damages to be awarded for mental pain and suffering related to injuries sustained in a car accident. The more severe and painful the injury, the more pain and suffering damages. The judge or jury determines pain and suffering damages if a case goes to trial.
Venues for Philadelphia Car Accident Cases
The Philadelphia metro area is spread out over several counties in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Almost all of these counties are good jurisdictions for plaintiffs in personal injury cases, but some of them are certainly better than others. Below is a brief scouting report on each of the county venues in the Philadelphia area.
Philadelphia County: Philadelphia County is essentially the city of Philadelphia. With a fully urban population of 1.6 million, Philadelphia County is considered one of the best jurisdictions for personal injury plaintiffs in the entire country.
Delaware County: Delaware County (“Delco”) is a small county immediately to the south of Philly along the river. Delaware County has a population of 576,000 that is very working-class / blue collar demographically. Traditionally this has been a very good venue for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
Montgomery County: This is the biggest of the counties outside of Philadelphia with a population of 856,000. Geographically is stretches from the city line westward, reaching very far away from the city. The population of Montgomery County right outside Philly is very plaintiff friendly, but the demographics change as you go farther west. This makes Montgomery County somewhat less favorable for personal injury plaintiffs.
Chester County: This jurisdiction does not actually touch Philadelphia and sits to the south and west of the city and goes all the way down to the Maryland border. This placement makes the demographics of Chester County markedly different and much less favorable than other venues.
Bucks County: Bucks County is to the north of Philly and it stretches very far to the west. Bucks County is widely viewed as the least favorable venue for plaintiffs in personal injury cases because it does not have favorable demographics.
Camden County (NJ): Camden County, New Jersey is directly across the Delaware river to the east of Philadelphia. Camden has excellent demographics which makes jurors in this venue very friendly. The problem, however, is that it is in New Jersey which has less favorable laws for personal injury plaintiffs.
Gloucester County (NJ): Across the river from Philly to the south of Camden, Glouscester County is a working class, blue collar area where juries will be favorable. Again, however, this is one of the Jersey counties around Philly which makes it less than ideal for any tort case.
Settlement Value of Philadelphia Auto Accident Cases
The settlement value of a car accident injury case in Philadelphia is based on various factors which are often very different in each individual case. The most significant factor that always drives the settlement value of a case more than any other is the nature and severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. More serious injuries involve more medical expenses and more pain & suffering, which equates to a higher settlement value. The chart below shows the average settlement value range of Philadelphia car accident cases based on the severity level of the plaintiff’s injuries.
|INJURY SEVERITY LEVEL
|$22,000 – $40,000
|$61,000 – $151,000
|$190,000 – $520,000
Philadelphia Car Accident Settlements and Verdicts
Below are recent 2022-2023 verdicts and reported settlements from Philadelphia car accident lawsuits. These cases are provided for informational purposes only and are not a guarantee of value in your case.
$30,000 Settlement (Montgomery County 2023): The plaintiff suffered back and neck sprains and shoulder injury after the defendant failed to yield while making a left turn causing a collision. The case settled out of court for $30,000.
$150,000 Settlement (Delaware County 2023): The decedent reportedly was carefully and prudently walking on the paved portion of a road when he was suddenly and without warning struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant. The plaintiff suffered fatal injuries, including multiple fractures and internal bleeding.
$50,000 Verdict (Philadelphia County 2023): The plaintiff’s vehicle was struck by the defendant in broadside collision. The plaintiff claimed to suffer sprains/strains to his right shoulder, right wrist, and left hip, and cervical, thoracic and lumbar sprain/strain. So basically every type of sprain injury you can get in a car accident. He also claimed to suffer headaches. Jury in Philadelphia County awarded $50,000 and it was all for pain & suffering.
$100,000 Verdict (Montgomery County 2023): The plaintiff claimed to suffer a right knee medial meniscal tear, requiring surgery, as well as neck and back pain after the vehicle she was operating, turning left on a green arrow, was struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant. The jury in Montgomery County found that the plaintiff was 45% at fault so her damages were reduced down from $100,000 to $55,000.
$250,000 Settlement (Montgomery County 2023): This wrongful death and survival action was brought after the decedent suffered multiple blunt impact injuries resulting in his death when the motorcycle he was operating collided with a vehicle driven by the defendant. The estate contended that the defendant made an improper/careless left turn, causing the collision.
$50,000 Settlement (Bucks County 2023): Wrongful death action in which an 84-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by the defendant while she was crossing an intersection. This was probably a strict policy limit settlement.
$89,340 Verdict (Philadelphia County 2023): The plaintiff, a 69-year-old female, said she was a passenger of a vehicle stopped at a red light in a northbound lane when a southbound vehicle operated by the defendant crashed head on into her host vehicle. The plaintiff reported injuries including disc herniations at L4-S1 leading to lumbar radiculopathy.
$910,000 Settlement (Philadelphia County 2022): wrongful death and survival action was brought after the death of a 64-year-old male, after he was crushed to death when his eastbound vehicle was struck by a westbound tractor-trailer which crossed the centerline of travel and veered into eastbound traffic, owned by defendant Sky Trans Inc.
Hire a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
The personal injury attorneys at Miller & Zois can help you with your Philadelphia car accident lawsuit. Contact us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.