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My son was hit by a driver who was drunk and texting while driving in Philadelphia. The DA’s office charged the driver with DUI and reckless driving. Are there other legal remedies we can pursue?

 

A:

Yes, there are.  You may file a civil suit against the driver for your son’s injuries and damages.  It is best that you seek the help of a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling DUI and texting while driving accident cases in PA. 

Pennsylvania car accident and car insurance laws are very complicated.  We need more facts regarding your son's accident and the extent of his injuries in order to determine whether he can bring a civil car accident lawsuit in PA against the driver.

Related case result: Victim of a distracted driving accident in PA receives $390,000 settlement

Was your son a pedestrian when he was hit by the driver who was texting while driving?

If your son was a pedestrian when he was hit by the car and sustained injuries, then he may file a PA car accident lawsuit in the county the accident occurred in or where the defendant lives.  Since the accident happened in Philadelphia you may file a lawsuit in Philadelphia County.

Related: Daniel J. O'Brien, Esq. Presents The Teen Driving Summit Program - Educating Teens On The Dangers Of Texting And Driving In PA

The damages your son may recover from the driver are the following:

  • past/future medical expenses;
  • past/future lost wages;
  • other out-of-pocket expenses; and
  • pain and suffering.

If your son was a driver in another car, does he have limited tort or full tort on his car insurance policy?

If your son has limited tort on his car insurance policy, he will not be able to sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering unless 1. the accident meets the exceptions of Pennsylvania auto law, or 2. his injuries are “serious” or “permanent.”

If he has limited tort, pursuant to section 1705(d)(1) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), he can sue for non-economic damages if the driver at fault is:

  • convicted or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance in the accident,
  • operating a vehicle registered in another state,
  • intentionally injures the plaintiff, or
  • the owner of a currently registered motor vehicle and has not maintained financial responsibility as required.

Because the driver was charged with DUI, if he is convicted or accepts ARD, then your son can sue the other driver for non-economic damages even though he has limited tort.

If the driver for some reason is not convicted of DUI or does not accepts ARD, your son may still be able to sue if he sustained a “serious injury.” For a detailed explanation of what is considered a "serious injury," see Pennsylvania's Limited Tort: When You Can Sue For Pain And Suffering (Part B: Serious Impairment Of Body Function).

If he has full tort, then there are no limitations.  He can sue the driver for his injuries and damages, including pain and suffering regardless of the severity of his injuries.

Therefore, it is important to talk to a PA car accident injury lawyer who can properly evaluate your son’s case and determine what civil remedies he may have depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding his accident.

Feel free to give me a call at 877.944.8396 to discuss the case or schedule a free consultation.


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