Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney FAQ

When is a Pennsylvania personal injury plaintiff entitled to recover injury damages?

A Plaintiff who was injured as a result of negligent conduct on the part of a Defendant is entitled to recover personal injury compensation for such injury from a jury if the jury finds:

  1. That a Defendant acted negligently; and
  2. That the negligence was a legal or factual cause of injury to the Plaintiff.

What does negligence mean?

Pennsylvania law defines “negligence” as:

“Failure to use ordinary care, that is, failing to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.”

Put it more in layman’s terms, Negligence is doing something which a reasonable person would not do, or failing to do something which a reasonable person would do, in the situation presented. The person whose conduct is a standard is not extraordinarily cautious, nor exceptionally skillful, but a person of “reasonable and ordinary prudence”.

One test that Pennsylvania injury lawyers find helpful in determining negligence is to ask (and answer) the question of whether or not, if a person of ordinary prudence had been in the situation and possessed the same knowledge, would they have anticipated that an injury would have resulted from the same action or inaction. If “yes”, and if the action or inaction reasonably could have been avoided, then not to avoid it is negligence.

How cautious must someone be to avoid personal injury lawsuits?

The amount of caution required in the exercise of ‘ordinary care’ depends upon the conditions that are apparent, or that should be apparent, to a reasonable person under similar circumstances to those shown by the evidence.

Is a child held to the same standard as an adult in personal injury claims?

No, a minor is not held to the same standard of conduct as adults. They are simply required to exercise the degree of care ordinarily exercised by minors of similar maturity, intelligence and mental capacity under a similar circumstance.

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If a Pennsylvania personal injury victim is at fault, can he/she still collect?

Comparative negligence is negligence on the part of the Plaintiff which, combining with the negligence of a Defendant, contributes as a cause in bringing about the personal injury. Comparative negligence, if any, on the part of the Plaintiff does not bar a recovery against the Defendant but the total amount of damages to which the Plaintiff would otherwise be entitled shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the Plaintiff.

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What if there is more than one cause of a personal injury?

When the negligent conduct of two or more people, or negligent acts and a defective product contributes concurrently as causes of an injury, the conduct of each is a cause of the personal injury regardless of the extent to which each contributes to the injury. A cause of the injury is considered to be concurrent if it happened at the moment of injury and acted with another cause to produce the injury. It is not a defense in Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuits that the wrongful act of a person not joined as a party was also a cause of the injury.

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When personal injury claims are filed in Pennsylvania, does the plaintiff have to go to court?

If the Defendant’s insurance company agrees to pay what both the lawyer and the client believe your case is worth, and you wish to accept the personal injury lawsuit settlement for that amount, then your case will not go to court. This is what happens in most situations. Some personal injury cases require a trial proceeding, however, in either situation, hiring a personal injury law firm with experience in handling your case is critical. Ultimately, the decision to settle or not is yours.

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How long do I have to start a personal injury lawsuit?

In Pennsylvania, personal injury actions must be commenced within two years of the act or omission giving rise to the injury, or within two years of the date of discovery. Under Pennsylvania law, a minor must file suit within 2 years of his or her 18th birthday.

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How long do personal injury claims take to conclude?

Some cases can be completed in a few months and others might take years. If the case can be resolved without filing a lawsuit, it takes much less time. If litigation is necessary, each court differs in the amount of time it takes to bring a case to trial. Unfortunately, litigation tends to be agonizingly slow, but I try to make every effort to push the case to a conclusion as quickly as possible. Remember, we don’t get paid until you do, so we aggressively pursue your case with every tactic known in order to obtain fair compensation in a timely manner.

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Should I try to work with the insurance company first and see if they treat me fairly before I hire a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney?

NO! The answer to this question is based on years of dealing with insurance companies. My experience is that not only will they NOT treat you fairly; they will be busy gathering evidence to help them pay you as little as possible for your injury claim. Furthermore, they will insist that you sign medical authorizations, give statements and provide documentation that could seriously damage your personal injury suit later when you have no choice but to hire an attorney.

The burden of having to deal with them on your own is just not worth it, regardless of what they say or the promises they make. I can not count the number of times that I have informed my clients that I could have gotten them more personal injury compensation if I had been involved in their suit from day one!

It’s a simple fact – insurance companies train adjusters to find ways of settling personal injury claims for the least amount possible. When a policyholder injures another person, an adjuster must honor the terms of coverage minimizing the amount of money the company pays out.

In many cases, sometimes within 2 hours of your accident, an adjuster will call or personally meet with you to try to settle the matter before you have an opportunity to hire an experienced personal injury trial attorney. In many of the cases we have seen, claims adjusters have told our clients that the amount they are offering is the best they can hope for, the best way for them to avoid costly, sometimes time consuming litigation. This is usually a lie! Don’t fall for their “advice” and deceptive tactics.

All of that said, if you have tried unsuccessfully to handle the injury claim on your own, we will be happy to step in at any stage and try to resolve the claim for you. I am familiar with how insurance companies operate. I have dealt with them for over 20 years. I will immediately put them on notice that we represent you and this will send a clear signal to them that they can not take advantage of you.

It will also immediately stop all of their attempts to gain information from you, requests for statements and requests that you sign documents that could hurt your case later. If contacted by anyone concerning your accident, all you will need to say is “Please contact my attorney, Jeffrey H. Penneys.”; I will handle all communication from there!

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Can I still win my case if my memory of the incident now conflicts with things said at the time of the accident?

Yes. It’s quite common for people to state things at the time of an incident that they later realize were inaccurate. Also, witnesses may misstate what you said about how the incident happened. You might have a hard time explaining how it you now remember things differently than you did at the time of the incident, but if you consult with an injury attorney, he will have experience handling such a situation, and can help find support for your accurate story.

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How much personal injury compensation can I expect?

If personal injury lawyers you talk to try to answer this question without first being able to analyze all of the evidence, including the extent of your medical, lost wages, permanent impairment, negligence of all defendants, and other factors, RUN, DON’T WALK!

The truth is, no lawyer can answer this question until he has all of the facts. each case is different and must be evaluated separately. Jeff spends a great deal of time and effort in evaluating your case, however, you should know that there is never any guarantee of recovery of personal injury damages or outcome.

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How much does it cost for you to meet with me, evaluate my case and to represent me?

I will not charge you anything for an initial consultation on personal injury cases, and if I take your case, I will usually take it on a contingency fee basis. That means that you don’t have to pay anything up front and I only get paid once your case is won or settled.

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How are personal injury claims expenses paid?

Every case requires funding for development of the evidence and to money to prepare the case for trial. In all cases, I will advance the funds necessary to cover the expenses. We ask that our clients reimburse us for the case expenses if, and when, there is a recovery in the case. If we are unable to win a personal injury compensation package, you owe us nothing for our services or expenses.

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How do you decide if you will take my injury case?

Philadelphia personal injury attorneys determine to take a case based on what they believe to be the likelihood of success. Unfortunately, and especially with the new “tort reform” measures, I cannot afford to represent everyone who asks for and needs my help. If I believe that I can be of service to you, I will take the case. If I am unable to help you, I often know of other lawyers who can help and I will refer you to them.

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