A car accident in North Philadelphia caused a building to collapse. Bricks from the building's wall were scattered in the street following the collision. Witnesses say they saw a Ford Excursion speeding down the block past their houses before it ran a stop sign and drove into the building. Following the crash, the vehicle's four occupants were buried in rubble from the wall.
Residents on the street, including one with medical training, worked to dig out the four women until rescue personnel arrived. One of the women told rescuers she was pregnant. All four were taken to the hospital in stable condition. Fortunately, the building was abandoned and no one was inside, but there are still fears that it may collapse. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.
The accident serves as a reminder that drivers have a broad responsibility for not only the cars around them, but for all persons and property who could come into contact with the driver. If personal injury or property damage are caused by a driver's actions, no matter how unusual or unlikely they may seem, the driver will likely be held legally liable.
In this case, the driver has apparently caused thousands of dollars of damage to the building. Even though the building was abandoned, the owner still has the right to have the building restored for future use and to be compensated for any clean up costs. These costs may or may not be covered by the driver's insurance policy. First, many drivers illegally drive without insurance. Second, if the driver had the legal minimum or a low policy limit, all the damage may not be covered. Finally, some insurance companies refuse to pay if a driver acted recklessly, which could include excessive speeding and running stop signs.
Even if the building was insured, the owner may have trouble getting the insurance company to pay the full cost of the damages and will likely see large premium increases if the insurance company is forced to pay. Further, the insurance company will want the owner's assistance in recovering as much as possible from the driver. This is why it is important for the victim of any accident to contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid out of pocket expenses and delay in getting repairs done.
Another reason is to contact an attorney quickly is because the involvement of multiple parties may further reduce the likelihood of a full recovery. Luckily in this case, no bystanders or occupants of the building were injured. However, it is possible that the three passengers may have a claim against the driver for endangering their safety. If that is true, the driver may also be liable for their medical expenses.
The different expenses an at-fault driver may be liable for — personal injury, medical expenses, lost wages, property damage — all have different priorities in terms of which insurance will pay first, how much of a defendant's assets can be touched, and whether the defendant can declare bankruptcy to avoid paying. Further, some injuries or property damage may not be immediately apparent.
Because of this, the best way to ensure a full recovery is to contact a car accident attorney as quickly as possible. In addition to them getting the facts when they're fresh in your mind, they'll also be able to guide you through the process and point out avenues for your recovery that you may not have even been aware of.