Sustaining a personal injury can be life-changing. Not only do personal victim injuries often have to deal with the painful physical and emotional consequences of a traumatic event, but they’re also often burdened with additional medical, financial, and legal concerns.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of another person’s negligence, navigating an injury case is likely the last thing that you want to do. So, let us do it for you.
A professional personal injury lawyer is the best way to protect yourself and your interests after an injury. These personal injury FAQs are a good place to start, but if you’re located in West Chester, PA, then we recommend reaching out to an attorney for more personalized advice and assistance with your case.
What Is a Personal Injury?
A personal injury is any type of damage done to a person’s body, mental or emotional health, or reputation. They can be caused by:
- car accidents
- motorcycle accidents
- truck accidents
- motorcycle crashes
- bicycle accidents
- pedestrian accidents
- slip and fall accidents
- workplace injuries
- defective products
- medical malpractice
- wrongful death
- nursing home negligence
- and more
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your potential options.
A personal injury claim may be filed if the victim can prove:
- Negligence. The victim must show that an individual or organization is responsible for the victim’s injuries, had a duty of care to the victim, and failed to take proper safety precautions that resulted in the injury. For more information on negligence see our blog comparative negligence laws in Pennsylvania.
- Strict liability. This holds the defendant responsible for the injury regardless of their mental state or intentions.
- Intentional wrongs. A victim may file a claim on the grounds of intentional wrongs if the personal injury resulted from an intentional action such as trespassing, assault, false imprisonment, etc.
Victims filing a personal injury claim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, travel expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, rehabilitation expenses, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, disability, emotional trauma, and more.
What Is the Personal Injury Claim Process in Pennsylvania?
A personal injury claim can be brought against a defendant who negligently caused the injury of the plaintiff. A successful personal injury claim will result in the plaintiff recovering compensation for any damage that resulted from the injury.
According to Philadelphia’s statute of limitations, personal injury victims have two years from the event to file a claim. The process to complete the claim requires several steps:
Step 1: File a complaint
Your personal injury lawyer will help you file your complaint. It will include your personal information, a description of your injuries and the event that caused them, and a description of the party responsible for your injuries.
Step 2: Allow for the defendant’s response
Once the claim is filed, the defendant and their lawyer will have a set period to respond to the complaint (usually within 21 to 30 days of the complaint being served). If the defendant fails to respond within this time, they are in default, and the court may enter a default judgment.
Step 3: Discovery
During this step, both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s teams will collect statements, exchange documents related to the event, question expert witnesses, and present any evidence or facts they have that may influence the case.
Step 4: Go to court or settle outside of court
In some cases, the plaintiff and defendant may decide to settle to avoid going to court. Both parties must agree to a settlement, or the case will continue to court to be examined by a judge and jury.
How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case?
Not all accidents or injuries will lead to a successful personal injury case. To make a personal injury claim, you must prove:
- Duty of care. The plaintiff must show that the other person or company owed the victim a duty of care. For example, drivers owe other drivers and pedestrians a duty of care and should exhibit this by obeying traffic laws. Businesses owe their customers a duty of care and thus are required to ensure that their premises are relatively safe and risk-free.
- Violation of duty. If the defendant breached their duty of care or was negligent, they may be liable for any accidents resulting from their breach of duty.
- Cause of injuries. The injured party must be able to show that the defendant’s negligence directly led to the accident and their injuries. Plaintiffs must show that their condition was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligent behavior.
- Proof of injuries. The plaintiff must be able to show medical records or other proof of their injuries.
However, while negligence is the most common cause of personal injuries, it’s not the only kind of lawsuit you can file. Some other ways that you can show liability include:
- Strict liability
- Breach of warranty
- Intentional harm
You may not know if you have a viable personal injury claim until you’ve talked to a trusted personal injury lawyer.
What Do I Do After a Personal Injury Accident?
It’s imperative to know what to do in the event of an accident. Many accidental injuries require immediate attention and can be stressful and overwhelming. If you’ve been involved in an accident or have been injured, follow these steps:
Step 1: Get medical attention. Even if your injuries don’t seem bad, visit a doctor as soon as you can. Some injuries may appear hours, days, or even weeks after an accident.
Step 2: Reach out to a personal injury lawyer and share the details of your accident. Your attorney will help you understand if you have a valid claim and can offer advice and assistance if you choose to move forward with a personal injury case.
Step 3: Keep records of everything related to your injury, including medical costs, lost wages, time spent at doctor’s appointments, changes in feelings or moods due to the injury, etc. Keep in contact with your lawyer and share any information they need so that they can ensure your case is as successful as possible.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
The primary role of a personal injury lawyer is to handle your case so that you can focus on healing. Your attorney will:
- Investigate your claim
- Gather evidence to strengthen your personal injury case
- Negotiate with insurance companies for maximum compensation
- Review information, legal studies, precedents, etc. pertinent to your case
- Find and speak to expert witnesses as needed
- File your complaint
- Negotiate settlements with the other party
- Represent you in court if needed
- Manage paperwork on your behalf
Many personal injury lawyers are paid on a contingency basis, which means that they will not get paid unless you do. That means that you can trust your lawyer to work hard to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome for your personal injury case.
Do I Need a Lawyer, or Can I Handle My Case On My Own?
While it is possible to handle your own personal injury case, we don’t recommend it. That’s because personal injury claims can be incredibly convoluted, and you should be focusing on recovery rather than making the best legal decisions for your case.
If you choose to represent yourself, please be aware that:
- You will be dealing with several different insurance companies.
- You will be negotiating with experienced insurance adjusters who are aiming to give you the smallest payment possible.
- You may miss nuances or evidence that could have led to greater compensation.
- You will be responsible for keeping track of all the documents, deadlines, etc.
- You may inadvertently say or do something to damage your claim.
- You will need to dedicate much more time and effort to your case than you otherwise would if you worked with a personal injury attorney.
Do All Cases Go to Trial?
Personal injury lawsuits make up a significant portion of court cases, yet not all injury claims will go to trial. Most of these cases are settled out of court once a lawsuit has been filed. Of the cases that do make it to court, roughly half are successful.
Keep in mind that cases that go to trial are often in for a lengthy commitment. Depending on the type of claim, it can take months or even years to settle a case.
How Much Is My Settlement Worth?
Every injury case is different, and it’s difficult to understand the long-term costs of an injury or accident — that’s why you must see a doctor right away, even if you don’t think that your injuries are significant. You may be able to recover economic damages such as:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Potential loss of income
- Property damage
You may also be able to recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.
Your settlement amount will also depend on how at fault you are for the accident and the ability of your attorney to negotiate on your behalf.
Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault State?
Unlike many other U.S. states, Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state. That means that every party involved in an accident may seek compensation for damages from their insurance company, no matter who is at fault for the accident. However, parties can choose between full tort and limited tort coverage when deciding on an insurance policy.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
At Wilk Law, our lawyers only charge a fee if they obtain a settlement or judgment in your favor. In this instance, we will collect a portion of the final settlement or judgment.
What Locations Does Your Law Firm Serve?
Contact Wilk Law Today
If you have suffered or are suffering from a personal injury, you may have a case against whoever caused the injury and may be able to receive compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, or any and all other damages that occurred as a result of the injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.