Sometimes, people are unfortunately injured because of an accident that was caused by negligence or reckless actions of another individual or group. The severity of the victim’s injuries and the cost of medical care is often dependent upon the kind of accident the victim suffered. When someone is severely injured, they may not yet know the full extent of their injuries or how their accident affected them.
This can put people in significant financial distress down the road, whether they struggle to afford current medical care for their injuries, have to miss work, or are forced to pay for past medical bills from their initial hospital stay. If you’re in this situation and feel that the accident which caused your injuries was not your fault and that legal recourse may be an option, the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers from Shrager & Sachs can fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.
Shrager & Sachs can look into your case and carefully calculate what the accident has cost you. We look at the accident, what factors allowed it to occur, and how your injuries have affected you in terms of medical expenses, missing work, and any pain or distress that you’ve been put through.
We understand that what you’re going through is stressful—but we’re here to help. We won’t let your case get swept under the rug. You deserve to have your voice be heard and for the responsible people to be held accountable for their actions. They need to know that their negligence cost you and need to make sure this never happens again.
These cases can be complex. To understand how these cases work, let’s first take a look at how the state defines negligence and how that impacts cases.
Personal Injury and Negligence in Pennsylvania
When someone is wrongfully hurt, the injured party can bring a civil lawsuit to the party that caused the injuries. Typically, the party that caused the injuries did so because of reckless conduct or negligence.
Negligence can happen at any moment. People can ignore ongoing problems. They may also fail to stay alert or make sure certain things are working properly. In most cases, the injured party is owed a duty of care that wasn’t met.
Medical care providers, for example, such as doctors, surgeons, nurses, and pharmacists, owe their patients care that includes reasonable treatments for their condition, not injuring them through fault, and informing them of risks when it comes to treatments and procedures.
When a duty of care isn’t met a person can be hurt, which will most likely cost them financial damages. The injured person may have had to stay in the hospital and require treatment when they’re out— which can result in expensive medical bills. The injury may also prevent them from working or returning to their job. Because the other party was responsible for the accident, the injured party can hold them accountable for their actions and seek compensation.
In Pennsylvania, parties involved in personal injury cases are subject to contributory negligence. This means that the damages a victim is entitled to may be decreased depending on their degree of fault in the matter. For examples, if a pedestrian was struck in Philadelphia by a speeding vehicle while outside of a crosswalk, the pedestrian may be assigned a portion of the guilt; however, they will still be eligible for compensation based on the percentage they were not deemed at fault.
Protecting Your Rights After You’ve Been Injured
Any injury is likely to be stressful and traumatic, and it’s important to remember that even injuries that seem minor have the potential to turn into serious conditions over time. No matter how serious your injury, you can take legal action if someone else’s negligence caused the related accident. There are, however, important things to remember so you protect your rights.
First, always seek medical attention for your injuries. Even if your injuries are minor and you believe they will heal on their own, having an accurate record of injuries will help significantly when you need evidence to prove the accident caused you harm.
While we’ll delve more into insurance companies later, it’s important to remember that they will look for ways to minimize your compensation in order to improve their bottom line. Because of this, it’s crucial to avoid signing any paperwork or accepting a settlement until you know what your claim is worth and what you are owed. If you accept too soon, you could be giving up the right to a much greater settlement.
Avoid posting anything regarding your accident or injuries on social media, as this could be used against you in the future when your claim is being evaluated. It’s also crucial to have an understanding of the claim process, so you know what to expect down the line as your case progresses. An attorney can help you along the way.
Understanding the Claim Process
The journey of filing a personal injury claim to settling can be long and has a lot of steps. We’re going to break down the process, so you have a clearer idea of what to expect.
- The Injury Occurs. When a person is injured because of someone else’s negligence and has incurred financial losses, they may choose to seek financial compensation.
- You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer. The next step is to get in touch with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected and you get the compensation you deserve. During this process, the lawyer will discuss your legal options with you and determine if you have grounds for a valid claim. When there are grounds for a claim, the attorney and client will proceed if the client hires them.
- File the Claim. After the claim is filed and the defendant is made legally aware of it, they will likely hire a lawyer as well.
- Litigation. This occurs before a trial to see if a settlement can be reached. Both sides will present evidence to argue their side and choose to settle the matter outside of the courthouse or set a date if they proceed to trial. Giving evidence and going over both sides of the case can take months and sometimes years.
- Settlement. It’s common for most cases to settle before going to trial. Your lawyer will help you make decisions to continue going to trial or to agree to a settlement amount.
Now that you have a general idea of the claim process, there are a few other details you should know about, like how to handle insurance companies.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
While it’s important to start your claim quickly, this doesn’t mean it’s important to settle quickly. After you’re in an accident, there’s a strong chance that an insurance adjuster will contact you to discuss the details of what happened. This can be tricky because your words can be used against you to lower your compensation. The insurance company is looking for ways to save the money that you are owed.
Your personal injury attorney in Philadelphia can help you with this process and inform you of ways you can be sure to protect your claim and compensation when speaking with an insurance adjuster. Speaking with adjusters is often a tricky situation, and while giving a recorded statement, you may accidentally omit important facts out of nervousness or you may not be aware of certain facts at all during that time. These omissions could harm you later.
For example, you may be experiencing neck pain. If you tell the insurance adjuster this, they will make a note of a neck injury. But say a few days later other symptoms show up and it turns out you really had a back injury. The insurance adjuster can then question why you didn’t bring that up at the time of the conversation and you may miss out on insurance that covers back injuries.
Overall, you should only stick to the basic facts that you know when speaking with an insurance adjuster. You can inform them of contact information and the location of your car, so they can evaluate it, but do not go into detail about the crash or your injuries. It’s important that you make it clear that you won’t be discussing much on the phone and you can say you won’t be saying any more until you have all the information regarding the accident. Then, your lawyers have time to conduct their accident investigation and you have time to know everything about your injuries and the recommended treatment.
The last aspect of dealing with insurance companies that your attorney can help you with is not settling early. It’s a tempting situation—you speak with the adjuster, they give you a settlement number, you agree, and it’s done; however, you may be doing yourself a major disservice.
The insurance company is not looking out for your best interests. You also don’t have all the facts at this point—like the back injury example discussed above. You may find that your injuries are worth more than the compensation you’ve been given, and that settlement would have gone to paying for your medical care. An early settlement could put you in a difficult financial situation while you’re trying to recover.
Statutes of Limitations
Most personal injury claims have to be brought forward within a given time frame referred to as a statute of limitations. These vary from state to state. At Shrager & Sachs, we stay up to date on Philadelphia and Pennsylvania law changes and know the time limits given to file a claim.
In general, there is a two-year limitation to recover damages for injuries or death that was caused by the wrongful actions or unlawful violence or negligence of another. This time limit could vary depending on the specifics of a case. Our lawyers in Philadelphia will be able to help you determine how much time you have.
It’s imperative to discuss your case with us as soon as possible. The details will be fresh in your mind, so you can give us the most accurate report of what happened. Also, this gives us plenty of time to learn all we can about your case. Then, we can file your claim and start working on getting you the compensation you need.
Waiting to file your claim has certain risks. Certain evidence that could have been used may not be available anymore, such as road debris or skid marks in a vehicle accident scene. There’s also the issue of trying to recount something that happened a year ago. It’s difficult to do this with precision.
You may also find that you’ve waited too long to come forward with your claim. In this case, your claim may be thrown out and you won’t be able to fight for compensation.
Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim
Once you decide to file a claim, it’s likely you’ll be wondering how much your case is worth. To determine this, damages need to be calculated by figuring out what your injuries have cost you physically, emotionally, and monetarily. In most cases, monetary damages are paid to the person who has been injured by the party who is found to be legally responsible for the accident. The final amount may be decided among the parties involved, their insurance companies, and their attorneys, or the decision can be ordered by a judge if a trial occurs.
There are a number of things a person may receive compensation for. The most common include:
- Medical Treatment. Personal injury damages almost always include the medical bills associated with the accident. Victims may be reimbursed for treatments they’ve received, as well as treatments they may need in the future. Medical expenses, like prescriptions, necessary equipment, and traveling costs, may also be included.
- Lost Wages. If your injuries have required you to take time off work, you may be eligible for compensation to cover the wages you did not receive. If you are no longer able to be gainfully employed, the money you would have made in the future can also be calculated.
- Property Damage. You may be entitled to reimbursement for fair market value or repairs to the property that was damaged during the accident. This includes things like vehicles, clothes, products, etc.
- Emotional Distress. Emotional distress is often associated with more serious accidents. Damages are meant to compensate the victims for the psychological impact of the injuries, including anxiety, sleep loss, depression, and more.
- Pain and Suffering. If you suffered any amount of discomfort during the accident or the aftermath, you may be entitled to a monetary award. Ongoing pain may also be taken into consideration for catastrophic injuries.
- Loss of Consortium. This refers to the impact the injuries have had on the relationship between the victim and their spouse or children. If the injured party is no longer able to provide companionship or guidance, the affected family member may be awarded compensation.
As you can see, there are a number of areas you may be eligible for monetary awards if you are the victim of someone else’s neglect. In order to receive full and fair compensation, you’ll benefit from hiring an experienced attorney.
A Successful Settlement With a Personal Injury Lawyer at Your Side
When you’re facing daunting legal action, you’ll need a legal team at your side with the knowledge and experience to help you succeed. It can be difficult to choose a lawyer, which is why you should take the following tips into consideration.
Generally speaking, you should locate a lawyer in your home state. While our practice is located in Philadelphia, we’re here to help individuals all over the state of Pennsylvania. You’ll also want to make sure you choose a lawyer that has a focus of practice in the area your claim will be. We have extensive experience in a number of practice areas and are willing to take on a variety of personal injury cases.
Your attorney should be able to help you understand all facets of your case, build a strong, convincing argument on your behalf, and answer any questions you may have so you never feel out of the loop.
You deserve a law firm that will fight for your rights no matter what. Shrager & Sachs has helped citizens of Philadelphia for years, and we will continue to do so. Our lawyers know how to carefully investigate a case, gather the evidence needed to support your claim, and get you a favorable settlement that will help you recover from your injuries.
If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence, you can seek justice. Get in touch with us today and schedule a free consultation.