When you get hurt in an accident, you are faced with a lot of uncertainty and stress, stop – take a breath and let us help. If you are injured in an accident the process can be overwhelming, but there is nothing to worry about if you hire the right attorney to guide you. The guide below explains how to pursue a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania, no matter if you were in a car accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice or other accident. This walk-through will help you as you progress through this process, just as we work with you to get the compensation you deserve.
- Collect photographs, evidence and contact the authorities: Take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene or product that injured you. Photograph a number of angles, and keep anything you receive, such as the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Call the police if you have been in a car accident, or the building administrator if you were injured at your office or a place of business. Remember again to get the contact information of these people.
- Contact an attorney: It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. All personal injury consultation with our attorneys are free, this is where we look at the circumstances surrounding your injury and determine if you have a viable case. If you have a viable personal injury case, you will be given a contingency fee agreement, which details the percentage of recovery we charge for representing you – if we cannot get you money, you owe us nothing. Once you are our client we will help you through the process with the insurance companies, help with getting you the best medical care, and will advise you about the things you must do to maximize your case. Remember – do not talk to the other party’s insurance adjuster without first speaking to your attorney for advice and guidance.
- Be diligent in your medical treatment: If you are hurt get to the hospital and/or see a doctor. Moreover, make sure you follow the doctors orders related to your treatment, this can include being sent for diagnostic testing like x-rays, mri’s, emg’s and physical therapy. If the doctor sends you for these tests there is a reason, for them to be able to properly diagnose and treat your injury.
- Keep good notes and all information related to the case: It may seem like a pain to keep track of all of your pain, medical treatment, but these notes can be the difference between a small settlement and a major case. Note all of the medical treatments that you receive, and follow any orders your physician gives you. Hold on to your insurance explanation of benefits, medical bills and receipts, police reports, and any other information, even if you don’t think it may not be relevant.
- Help your attorney prepare your case: Keep documenting your injury, if this can be done through photos or video do so. Keep all outstanding medical bills related to your injury. Your attorney will ask for your photos, videos, notes, bills and papers related to the case. Present them to your attorney as requested, so that they can build your case.
- Demand packet to the insurance company: This demand packet is composed by your attorney, discussed with you, is to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property loss. Typically, there will be several rounds of offers and counteroffers before you either reach a settlement or pursue legal action. As attorney’s we are bound by the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct to present all settlement offers to our clients, you will get our opinion on the offer, but the choice to accept is yours.
- Reject the offer and proceed to trial: Rejecting a low-ball settlement offer and filing a lawsuit can provide the type of leverage needed to move the insurance company to a fair settlement offer. We will prepare your injury case for trial, letting the jury (or judge) decide on the proper compensation for your injuries.
- The discovery process: During discovery, both parties collect and present evidence, response to interrogatories (questions on paper) and Request to Produce Evidence. Depositions by the plaintiff, defendant, and witnesses are given with a court reporter present. Evidence is gathered by both sides to be able to put forth their case at trial – this phase can be slow, but is often where personal injury cases are won.
- Modified Comparative Negligence: In Pennsylvania, if you are partially at fault in the accident, your damages can be reduced by a percentage based on the amount of fault. This is something our attorneys will consider and discuss in the initial consultation, all the way through trial.
- Trial: The trial process begins with jury selection, or if its a bench trial a judge will oversee the trial. Both sides make opening statements and then your claim and any counterclaim are considered by the jury. Ultimately the jury then responds with their ruling, and hopefully a lot of money for our client. Keep in mind, sometimes injury cases settle just before the court date, because the insurance company wants to avoid the jury result, something they cannot control.
These 10 steps how to pursue a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania is a general walk-through of the process, every case come with its own set of complexities, and is exactly why you need an attorney to guide you. If you have been injured in an accident in Pennsylvania, we can help! Our team of injury attorneys understand the process, we will help you avoid the pitfalls, and ultimately work to get you top dollar for your injuries.