Suffering a personal injury can be life-altering. One minute you are busy doing all of the things that you like and are accustomed to, and then the next you are in pain and need assistance to complete even previously routine tasks. All the while, you wonder what you did to deserve this pain and frustration.
The truth is that it is not uncommon for the victim of an accident to blame him or herself for the injury. But if another person’s negligence, carelessness or intentional act caused your injury you should speak to an experienced Lancaster, PA personal injury attorney. At The Reiff Law Firm we have represented accident victims for more than 34 years. Our attorneys hold people and companies accountable for the injuries they cause. To schedule a confidential and free consultation, call (215) 709-6940.
What are the Common Reasons for Personal Injury?
While every accident is different, after 34 years we have identified areas from which personal injury claims often spring. Some of these high traffic areas are discussed in more detail below.
While accidents have always been a fact of life, the proliferation of cell phones and other electronic devices has resulted in a significant increase in accidents due to distracted driving. We handle all accident types including accidents due to speeding, failure to yield, and accidents at intersections. We also represent motorcyclists and commercial vehicle drivers.
Slip and Falls
Each year thousands of Pennsylvanians are injured due to the negligence of property owners. We can help you secure compensation for your injuries whether you slipped on snow and ice, tumbled down an unsafe stairway, slipped on a puddle in a retail shop or fell from a ladder. Our attorneys will explain the law and each step of the personal injury litigation process to you.
Premises liability claims are often closely related to slip and fall lawsuits. Property owners, managers, and landlords owe individuals an obligation to keep their property reasonably clear of hazards. The exact responsibility depends on the type of property and the type of guest. For example, the obligation a homeowner owes a dinner guest is different than the obligation a store owner owes to someone shopping at their business. Nonetheless, if you are injured on another’s property because of the owner’s negligence, you should contact our Lancaster personal injury attorney to determine if you have the grounds for a lawsuit.
Some injuries are caused by the products we rely on to make our lives easier. When a device or tool malfunctions, resulting in an injury, the manufacturer could be held liable for any damages. Typically, products liability claims arise from design flaws, manufacturing errors, or inadequate warning labels.
Burns are often regarded as one of the most painful injuries possible. For severe third-degree burns, extensive reconstructive surgeries may be required. Our personal injury practice handles all types of serious burn claims, including due to a house fire, burns caused by a defective product and chemical burns.
According to the Journal of Patient Safety, each year as many as 440,000 people may suffer some medical mistake that contributes to their death. Medical malpractice cases can arise from a wide range of injuries, including misdiagnoses, birth injuries, medication errors, and surgical mistakes. Proving negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit is challenging and requires an experienced Lancaster personal injury attorney.
Unfortunately, some injuries are fatal. When this happens, family members and loved ones are devastated. However, along with grief, a family that losses a valuable member could be facing unexpected financial stress. If the death was caused by the negligence of another person or entity, eligible surviving family members could be entitled to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Regardless of the cause of your personal injury, the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm can lead you through each step of the litigation process.
Negligence in a Lancaster, PA Personal Injury Lawsuit
A key component in a personal injury claim or a lawsuit is negligence. When another person or entity has acted negligently, causing an injury to another, the negligent party or parties could be held legally responsible. This means that they, or their insurance companies, might be liable for financial compensation associated with the injuries that occurred.
When people hear the word “negligence,” they usually think of careless or reckless behavior. However, in a personal injury claim, negligence refers to conduct that deviates from what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar circumstances. For example, if someone gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol for hours, they are negligently endangering others. A reasonable person would understand that driving in that condition is unsafe. Another example is a landlord who does not repair a broken light in a stairwell, creating a hazardous situation for tenants and guests in the building.
Proving negligence in a Lancaster personal injury case requires establishing four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Duty of care is the legal obligation a person or entity has not to cause harm to others. The exact nature of this duty depends on the relationship between the parties. Turning back to the landlord example above, a landlord would have a duty to tenants and guests to ensure the property was free of known hazards, including an unlit staircase. However, this same duty would not be owed to a trespasser.
When a person’s conduct deviates from what a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances, it is commonly called a breach of duty. A reasonable landlord would know that a dark staircase could lead to injuries and would replace or repair the light. However, not every personal injury case is as clear and proving a breach is often the most complicated part of the process.
To hold another party liable for your injuries, they must have caused them. Without proving causation, you cannot prevail in a personal injury claim. To establish causation, our Lancaster personal injury will have to prove the defendant’s actions lead to the injury. For instance, if you lost your balance and fell because you could not see the stairs, then not fixing a broken fixture might have caused your injury. However, what if you had been drinking or purposefully skipping steps? Another problem occurs when a direct link is not readily apparent. This issue is common in medical malpractice cases where, even if a doctor did everything perfectly, the outcome is still tragic.
Finally, to be compensated through a personal injury lawsuit, you must have suffered quantifiable damages. If you received medical treatment, were prescribed medication, or lost time at work, you probably suffered damages. However, if you saw your doctor once, were told to take a couple of aspirins, and missed an afternoon of work, your damages might not be significant enough to warrant the cost of a personal injury claim. Our office will carefully evaluate your case, including your financial losses and your physical and emotional suffering, to estimate the value of your claim. This estimation is vital whether you settle with an insurance company outside of court or file a lawsuit.
What Types of Awards are Available in Personal Injury Cases?
In your personal injury case, the main types of damages you would seek are compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to make the victim of the accident whole. That is, a compensatory damage award is given to make up for what the victim lost due to the injury.
Compensatory damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. These specific types of damages are commonly referred to as economic damages. Economic damages are your financial losses associated with your injury. Our Lancaster personal injury attorney will gather bills, receipts, statements, and other documents to evidence the money you have lost or paid out because of the injury. Some expenses, such as future medical treatment or therapy and income you would have earned, will have to be estimated. These damages usually require testimony from medical and financial experts.
In addition to your financial losses, you are entitled to recover for your emotional suffering and physical pain. Your non-economic damages are subjective in nature and, therefore, more challenging to calculate. Nonetheless, an injured victim is permitted to recover for anxiety, insomnia, depression, and the loss of enjoyment of life. Because there are no actual bills or receipts available, our office will turn to the testimony of your healthcare providers, medical experts, and your friends and family to establish how you were uniquely affected by your injury.
Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages. If granted, they are still awarded to the plaintiff in the matter but they serve a different purpose. Rather than being designed to make a victim whole, punitive damages are generally viewed as a vehicle for the court to send a message to the public-at-large that this type of conduct is unacceptable. Additionally, punitive damages punish the tortfeasor and are considered to act as a deterrent to individuals who would otherwise act in a similar fashion in the future. Punitive damages are rarely awarded but they can be a significant part of an injured victim’s settlement award. When reviewing your case, our attorney will discuss the likelihood of punitive damages.
Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help if You were Injured in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
For more than 34 years, The Reiff Law Firm has protected the rights of accident victims. If you have suffered a personal injury due to a slip and fall, burn injury, medical mistake, or under other circumstances, we can help. To schedule your no-obligation consultation, call us at (215) 709-6940 or contact us online today.