Blog

What to Do When Your Teenager Wrecks Your Car

With little experience, teens are some of the most vulnerable drivers on the road.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens that text while driving are 26 times more likely to crash. In 2016, speeding was a factor in 32 percent of fatal teen crashes; and teens are more likely than anyone to die in an alcohol-related car accident.

The stats are scary, especially for parents who have teens on the road for the first time or are preparing for it in the near future.

Below, the Pennsylvania car accident lawyers from Hagelgans & Veronis discuss what to do if your teen wrecks your car, and how liability works in accidents involving teen drivers.

Teen Drivers & Pennsylvania Insurance

Pennsylvania has a graduated driver licensing law, which has helped mitigate accidents among first-time drivers. Teens beginning this process obtain a learner’s permit, followed by a junior license, and finally, an unrestricted license.

Generally speaking, teens do not need their own insurance policy until they’re driving with an unrestricted license. In most cases, it’s cheaper to add them to an existing policy, depending on the value of the vehicle.

Adding a teen to an existing policy means whatever coverages are available to the policyholder will extend to the teen driver in the event of an accident.

Additionally, Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state—whatever coverage option is selected by the policyholder will also apply to the teen driver. For example:

  • Full tort coverage allows a motorist and policyholder to retain unrestricted rights to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party in an accident.
  • Limited tort insurance allows policyholders to save on their premiums by waiving their right to recover certain damages, such as payments for pain and suffering, except with some limited exceptions, most notably being hit by a drunk driver or an out of state driver. Electing Limited Tort does not prevent an injured victim from suing for non-economic damages when there is death or “serious injury.”

Minor crashes are bound to happen, and when they do, it’s more than likely that damages will be covered by a standard insurance policy, as long as the teen driver is named on the policy and there are adequate coverage limits.

However, Pennsylvania’s insurance requirements are low. If your teen seriously injures someone in a car accident, for example, and you only have the minimum bodily injury liability insurance ($15,000 per person; $30,000 per accident), that money won’t begin to cover the victim’s medical costs and rehabilitation.

Avoid potential problems by purchasing higher limits or expanding coverage types (i.e., collision, comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage etc.).

Total-loss Claims in Pennsylvania

What if your teen totals your car? Total-loss claims are often frustrating. Your insurer won’t care that your teen is an inexperienced driver or that you might not have enough money to buy a new car.

Collision and comprehensive coverage are not mandatory requirements in Pennsylvania. But without these coverages, you won’t be compensated if your teen wrecks your car.

Even if you have the right coverage, if you don’t have enough, you may face a total-loss decision. Insurance companies use several formulas to determine whether a car is worth repairing.

Generally, if repairs exceed the car’s fair market value (FMV) immediately before the accident, the car is totaled.

To avoid this scenario, parents and guardians should consider purchasing collision auto insurance coverage. This type of coverage applies to damage to your vehicle. It’s up to policyholders to purchase the right amount of coverage for their vehicle and their teen driver.

Collision coverage can offset out-of-pocket expenses for repairs or reimburse you in case of total loss.

Collision coverage may not be necessary if the car isn’t worth much, as the maximum payout for a totaled vehicle will only be its fair market value before the crash. Consider premium costs and the value of your vehicle carefully before adding this coverage to your policy.

Liability Concerns for Parents and Guardians

One concern many parents have regarding their teen driver is how liability gets distributed in the event of a crash. More specifically, can parents or guardians be held responsible for an accident their teen driver caused?

Negligent entrustment and vicarious liability are legal theories that can be used in cases where a parent or guardian knew, or should have known, that a teen driver was likely to cause an accident.

Examples include allowing a teen to drive without the appropriate license; or, allowing a teen to drive despite a dangerous history texting while driving.

According to Pennsylvania statute, “Any parent whose child is found liable or is adjudged guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction of a tortious act shall be liable to the person who suffers the injury…”

Get the information you need to keep your teen driver safe. Follow Hagelgans & Veronis on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.  

 

It’s Back to School Again!

Kindergarten through 9th grade in the School District of Lancaster head back to school on Monday, August 27th; grades 10, 11, and 12 start back the next day, Tuesday, August 28th.

Click here for a complete list of important school dates.

It’s back to school time in Lancaster, and there are plenty of ways to save on school gear, clothing, and more. Check out our favorite ways to save below. 

Tanger Factory Outlets

Back to school means new clothes, and this summer, Tanger Outlets is offering a ton of great deals for back to school savings.

Visit the Tanger Factory Outlets website to review coupons, sales, and giveaways to your favorite outlet stores.

Coupons.com

Coupons.com is great to check out before you head off to the mall or department store. Stores like Macy’s, Target, J.C. Penny’s, Staples, and OfficeMax offer a lot of great back to school deals, but you can double up by printing extra coupons from Coupons.com. 

The School District of Lancaster

As the summer winds down, the Lancaster Public School District will host several activities and events to help kids get ready for the upcoming school year. Events include open houses, orientations, a back to school picnic, ice cream social, and more.

Check out the School District’s calendar or contact your kid’s local school to learn more. 

Youth Week

Youth week isn’t a back to school event, but it does give Lancaster kids the opportunity to participate in a week’s worth of activities at a reduced cost or even for free.

Activities include laser tag, roller skating, and ice skating; plus, free face painting, haircuts, and a backpack giveaway. Enjoy music, food, and fun with the whole family.

Youth Week begins Wednesday, August 8th. Registration is required. For more information call 717-615-4498 or learn more online. 

Comcast

These days, kids are expected to have a reliable internet connection to do their homework. But internet can be expensive, and for some it’s unaffordable.

Comcast offers an Internet Essentials program to low-income households with school-aged children. Eligible families can sign up to receive 10 Mbps internet speed for just $9.95 per month plus tax.

To find out if your household qualifies for service, click here.

We hope you and your kids view these events and savings as an opportunity to spend more quality time together before the school year kicks off.

We wish you and your family a year of good grades, great teachers, and safe fun!

Common Questions About Car Accidents

If you’ve been in an accident recently, or if someone close to you has been injured, you probably have a million questions.

Below, the attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis answer some of the most frequently asked questions about car accidents. If your question isn’t answered here, we’re ready to take your call.

Call 717-681-6069 today for answers to all your personal injury questions, or contact us online.  

injured after accidentShould I go to the doctor? What if I don’t feel injured?

It’s a good idea to see a doctor after a car accident. Traumatic head injuries (TBI), for example, don’t always reveal signs or symptoms right away.

During and after an accident, the body releases adrenaline, which can mitigate a person’s ability to feel pain. A medical examination is the best way to determine your health and safety after a car accident.

Moreover, if you ever need proof of your condition, medical records offer a valid source.

Do I need a lawyer?

Pennsylvania is among a handful of states that offers no-fault insurance (also known as limited tort coverage), which allows drivers to collect damages from their insurer directly. This is useful when only minor property damage is suffered and no serious injury occurs.

However, if the other driver was acting negligently (e.g., drinking and driving, texting while driving, etc.) and you suffer financial loss due to medical bills or lost wages, you should discuss the accident with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Why should I choose Hagelgans & Veronis?

There’s a public misconception that when people are injured in catastrophic accidents they will be compensated fairly and fully. But that’s not always the case.

Drivers in Pennsylvania are legally insured for as little as $15,000 in liability coverage. In a serious accident, that coverage won’t cover total costs. And some minimally insured drivers won’t have the personal assets to reimburse victims.

The attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis specialize in exhausting all available sources of insurance coverage to ensure no money is left on the table.

Our team works on a contingent-fee basis, which means victims don’t pay anything until the case gets settled. We pay for expert testimony, evidence collection, and advance any case costs so victims can focus on what really matters: recovery.

We’re compassionate client advocates and we’ve been helping injured victims throughout central Pennsylvania for more than 20 years.

Call 717-681-6069 for a FREE case consultation, or contact Hagelgans & Veronis online.

What If I have limited tort insurance? Can I still collect compensation?

People on the phone after car accidentDrivers who elect limed tort insurance in Pennsylvania are only allowed to sue for economic damages, unless the injury or circumstances meet a specific exception.

For example, a victim with limited tort insurance can sue for complete compensation (including noneconomic damages like pain and suffering), if the injury meets the “serious injury” threshold.

Injuries such as TBI, paralysis, amputation, and injuries involving major surgery commonly meet the threshold.

There are also six non-injury related exceptions that allow a victim to recovery economic and noneconomic damages:

  • The at-fault driver is convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • The at-fault driver was driving a vehicle registered in another state
  • The at-fault-driver intended to hurt himself (or others)
  • The injured person was a pedestrian
  • The injury is the result of a defect in the design, manufacturing, repair or maintenance of a vehicle
  • The person covered by limited tort insurance is injured while a passenger in a vehicle other than a private passenger vehicle (e.g., public bus, commercial truck, shuttle, etc.)

If one of these exceptions applies, you may be able to step outside the limited tort rule and collect noneconomic damages.

Can I collect damages if I was partially at fault?

Yes. Pennsylvania follows a modified version of comparative negligence, which reduces damages based on each driver’s contribution to the accident.

For example, if the total damage is $20,000, but you’re found 25 percent at fault for the accident, then compensation is reduced by 25 percent or $5,000. The maximum amount the victim could receive in this scenario is $15,000.

However (and this is the modified part), if the victim is found more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, they can be barred from collecting ANY compensation.

How much time do I have to file a claim?

Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations has restrictions on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.

Generally, personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the injury. If the claim is filled after this date, it’s unlikely the case will be successful.

If you have any questions about a Pennsylvania car accident, Hagelgans & Veronis is the first call you should make.

Get your questions answered! Call 717-681-6072, or contact us online for a FREE case consultation.

Burn Injuries [Infographic]

Every year in Pennsylvania, hundreds of people suffer serious burn injuries. A small number die from on-the-job fires or explosions. In Lancaster and York County, there were 32 flame-related hospitalizations in 2014.

Burn injuries are caused by various dangers including toxic chemicals, fireworks, thermal conductors (like stoves and ovens), electricity, scalding liquids, corrosive cleaners, and wildfires.

Different types of burns may require special care during an accident or emergency situation. Below, we discuss different types of burns and review how to treat different types of burn injuries.

Burn Injury Severity

Burn injuries are categorized into three types:

  • First-degree burns—mild compared to other types of burns. They typically result in pain and reddening of the outer layer of the skin (epidermis).
  • Seconddegree burns—these injuries damage the epidermis and the lower layer of skin called the dermis.
  • Third-degree burns—sometimes called partial thickness burns, these burns are severe and affect deep tissue.

While a burn injury may seem minor, painful symptoms are common among the afflicted, which can result in time away from work and recreational activities, and may result in far-reaching emotional distress.

Symptoms include:

  • Blisters
  • Constant pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Red or irritated skin
  • Swelling
  • Shock
  • White or charred skin
  • Permanent scars
  • Disfigurement

 

Even minor burns can result in a painful recovery—minor burns can be more painful because sensitivity is still intact, whereas severe burns often result in numbness due to damaged nerve endings.

 

Burn injury Infographic

How to Treat Different Types of Burns

Knowing how to treat different burns can make a huge difference during an emergency.

Thermal Burns

Mild burns caused by dry or wet heat are most common, and they can often be treated from home:

  1. Hold the burn under cold water 15 minutes to prevent swelling.
  2. Apply burn cream to the affected area.
  3. Use a sterile bandage to cover and protect the burn.
  4. Change the bandage several times throughout the day and apply more cream as needed.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are caused by a reaction between the skin and acids or bases. These burns require a bit more care.

For example, flushing out the injury with water is critical, but you MUST allow water to cleanse the site completely—for at least 20 minutes—as chemicals often react to water and create more heat.

Follow these steps if you’re dealing with a chemical burn:

  1. Wear synthetic gloves (like nitrile gloves) when treating the area to prevent contamination.
  2. Remove any residual chemicals, clothing, or jewelry from the affected area. This will reduce the risk of further chemical reaction.
  3. Flush the burn with water for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Cover the area with a sterile bandage.
  5. Seek professional medical care. Bring the chemical’s container with you to the hospital.

DO NOT attempt to neutralize a chemical burn with butter, baking soda, vinegar or any other DIY treatment. Doing so may cause further injury.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns can be caused by a number of things including loose wiring, lightening, or accidental contact with household current.

While some minor electrical burns can be treated at home, it’s best to see a doctor. Electricity can damage internal tissue in ways that can’t be perceived from the outside.

  • Don’t touch the injured person if they’re still in contact with the electrical current.
  • Don’t move the injured person unless they’re in immediate danger.
  • Stay away from any jumping or sparking wires.
  • Call 9-1-1 for help.
  • If possible, cover the burn with sterile gauze or bandage. Do not use blankets, towels, or anything with loose fibers that could cling to the injury.

Do You Need a Burn Injury Lawyer?

Burn injuries that result from someone else’s negligence or careless behavior may benefit legal representation.

If you’re struggling to pay for medical bills, or if you’ve had to miss work because of a burn injury, you may be entitled to compensation.

At Hagelgans & Veronis, we’re dedicated to representing the rights of injured people, and we can help you too. 

Call us for a FREE case consultation at 717-681-6069, or tell us what happened online. Consultations are FREE, and we don’t get paid until your case gets settled.

 

 

I’ve Been Hit by Driver Without Insurance. Now What?

A crash with an uninsured driver is more than an accident in Pennsylvania—it can be a nightmare.

Medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage can all fall on the victim’s shoulders—an enormous financial burden—even if the victim maintained the state’s minimum insurance requirements.

hit by uninsured driver

Pennsylvania isn’t known for having many uninsured drivers (we’re actually among ten states with the fewest). But accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers still happen, and when they do you may need an experienced car accident attorney to advocate for your losses.

Below, the car accident lawyers from Hagelgans & Veronis explain what options are available, if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Your Insurance May Not Be Enough

All drivers in Pennsylvania are required to maintain the state’s minimum insurance requirements. However, contrary to what you might see on popular insurance websites, mandatory coverage in Pennsylvania DOES NOT include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Pennsylvania’s minimum insurance requirements are as follows:

  • Medical benefits ($5,000) — This pays medical bills for you and others covered on your policy regardless of fault. This coverage is sometimes referred to as personal injury protection (PIP).
  • Bodily Injury Liability ($15,000/$30,000) — If you injure someone in a car accident, this coverage pays their medical and rehabilitation expenses and any damages for which you are found liable. The $15,000 pays for injures to one person, the $30,000 represents the total available for one accident.
  • Property Damage Liability ($5,000) — This coverage is available, if you damage someone’s property in an accident and you’re at fault. (Some companies group this coverage together with bodily injury liability for a minimum total of $35,000.)

Pennsylvania is also a no-fault state, which complicates matters a bit more. Our state allows drivers to choose between no-fault insurance and traditional insurance (full tort).

With traditional insurance, you maintain your right to sue the at-fault party, and you can be sued as well. However, no-fault insurance limits a driver’s right to sue, unless the accident meets specific medical thresholds (i.e., serious or permanent impairment of bodily function or disfigurement).

The insurance coverage you have, policy limits, and whether you’ve opted in or out of the no-fault system will ultimately determine how compensation can be pursued.

Can I Sue an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver?

While there are consequences for driving without insurance in Pennsylvania, they do not guarantee equitable compensation for accident victims.

Compared to other state minimums, Pennsylvania’s insurance requirements are low—they haven’t changed since 1974!

In the event of an accident with an underinsured driver, minimum insurance requirements may not cover you or your family’s comprehensive medical costs.

Conversely, if you cause an accident, it’s unlikely minimum bodily injury coverage will cover the other driver’s complete medical expenses.

What if the at-fault driver is uninsured? Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, you may get stuck with the bills.

While it’s possible to sue an uninsured driver, the only way it works out for you is if the driver has personal assets available to reimburse your losses. In many cases, the uninsured driver won’t have the financial means to compensate the victim, so litigation isn’t a viable course of action.

Adding uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your insurance policy is the best way to protect yourself from harm caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Uninsured & Underinsured Coverage Explained

Auto insurance companies offer a range of elective coverages including uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM).

Here’s the breakdown of these additional coverages:

  • Uninsured motorist (UM) — This coverage applies to you, relatives residing in your household, and passengers, if injured by an at-fault uninsured motorist OR hit and run driver. This coverage DOES NOT include property damage.
  • Underinsured motorist (UIM) — This coverage applies to you, relatives residing in your household, and passengers, if injured by an at-fault motorist who does not have ENOUGH insurance to pay your claim. This coverage DOES NOT include property damage.

The sad truth is that even with these additional coverages, car accident victims may still face compensation obstacles against greedy insurance companies.

In some cases, the victim may have to fight for compensation from their personal insurer, a process that almost always requires the expertise of a Pennsylvania car accident attorney.

Here are a few important reminders to help prepare you for such an unfortunate event:

  • Obtain an official police report. Most UM/UIM policies require this documentation.
  • Maintain records of all medical treatments and related expenses. This documentation can be useful if injuries are disputed.

Claims involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist are complex in Pennsylvania. Moreover, there are few protections available to ensure victims receive fair compensation.

It’s up to individual drivers to protect themselves with additional coverages, but even then, it can be an uphill battle to make things right.

Are you a Pennsylvania driver? Get the information you need to protect yourself and your family! Follow Hagelgans & Veronis on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.