Personal injuries are damaging because they cause you a lot of inconveniences, affect you mentally and physically, impact your means of income, and can also be fatal at times. Even a slip and fall accident could lead to injuries such as fractured vertebrae or slipped discs. The most common personal injuries in Philadelphia are auto accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall, dog bites, and work-related accidents because of the employer’s negligence. In 2018, Pennsylvania (of which Philadelphia is a city) recorded about 780 dog bites. Without hiring a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer, you will find it extremely challenging to receive adequate compensation for your injuries or even go about filing a complaint, for that matter. Only attorneys who possess legal expertise should handle such cases. But what are some questions you should ask your lawyer before hiring them and some things you should know about injury cases in Philadelphia?
How long would your case take?
The specific duration of such cases depends on the nature of the case, the extent of damage caused, the compensation amount sought by you, and other factors. The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia is two years. Usually, a court could take anywhere between two months to a year to settle an injury lawsuit. But if the case involves a trial, you will have to wait for one to two years for the settlement. Your attorney could provide you with an estimate regarding the duration of your case. You must also remember that Pennsylvania civil courts refuse cases that have exceeded the two-year limit while dismissing any compensation rights for the individual.
How much compensation can you expect?
Pennsylvania has a set of defined rules and regulations regarding the compensation amount you can seek after damage. Although several states in the USA have a damage cap or limit regarding the compensation amount, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have no limits. However, if you file a case against the Commonwealth or the State, the damage cap comes into play. According to the Sovereign Immunity Act, you can recover only 250,000 USD$ against a government employee or 500,000 USD$ against a local agency such as the City of Philadelphia. You can claim damages on pain and suffering, loss of earnings, property losses, and dental expenses. The compensation limit does not apply to a specific compensation but to the total amount, thus allowing you to claim for medical care, pain, and suffering.
What is the injury claims process?
Even though your attorney will handle the entire claims process, from filing the complaint to negotiating in court, you could ask them to guide you through the process step-by-step to understand better. Usually, cases of these types involve the steps mentioned below.
Filing a complaint
Your lawyer will usually begin an injury claims process by filing a complaint on your behalf. The document will state your name, address, and other personal details, the individual responsible for the accident, a detailed description of the incident, and its events. They will also describe the nature of your injury in detail, its impact on your personal and professional life, and why the compensation amount you seek is justified. The complaint would contain additional information about the negligent party, like their place of residence, the site of the accident, and if anybody else was involved.
Allow the defendant to respond
After your lawyer has filed the lawsuit in court, you will have to wait for the defendant to respond. According to the law of Pennsylvania Statute 1021.74 titled Answers to Complaints, the defendant has 30 days from the complaint to respond. On the 21st day, the defendant will receive a ten-day notice as a deadline for the reply. If they fail to respond, you, as the plaintiff, have the right to move for a default judgment and receive the entire amount you seek as compensation.
The discovery process in a personal injury claims lawsuit involves exchanging information by all parties to establish the facts surrounding the case. During it, your attorney will collect and provide statements to the defendant, exchange documents related to the incident and even call in an expert witness if required. You will also be required to offer recorded testimonies of the event.
Settlement or trial
If your attorney and the defendant can reach an agreement, they will solve the matter outside the court. However, if the other party has rejected your offer, you have the right to take the case to court and let the judge and jury take the ultimate decision. The other party might also argue that you were partially to blame for the accident. Under the shared fault rules, Pennsylvania has a modified comparative negligence rule whereby the court would reduce your compensation amount proportionate to your degree of fault. However, if the court found you at more than 50% fault, you won’t be entitled to anything, and this is where your attorney’s legal expertise will come into play, as they rule out fault on your part as much as possible.
Having a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer by your side will provide you with the support, legal expertise, and confidence you require to receive adequate compensation and see that you get justice.