When you suffer an injury because of another’s negligence, your entire life is disrupted. A severe injury could result in an extended hospital stay, long-term medical care, and a substantial loss of income. At the Reiff Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers are dedicated to representing those who have suffered significant harm because of another person’s reckless behavior. Whether it was a car accident, negligence, or an intentional act, our attorneys will fight for your rights and just compensation.
The attorneys and staff at our office have decades of experience handling complicated litigation arising from severe injuries. When another person or company’s negligent conduct results in serious harm, they should be held accountable. To schedule a free, confidential appointment, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.
Personal Injury Law in Philadelphia
In Pennsylvania, personal injury law serves two primary purposes. First, it ensures that the victims of negligent conduct receive the compensation they deserve to help them move forward with their lives and recovery. Second, as a matter of public policy, personal injury lawsuits help effect change that prevents future accidents and injuries.
Our dedicated Philadelphia personal injury lawyers handle severe and catastrophic injury cases so victims could receive the monetary compensation necessary to obtain the medical treatment and life assistance they require. Our office is also committed to holding people, companies, and even government agencies liable for their negligent conduct while incentivizing an improvement and higher standard of care to protect other residents of Philadelphia from similar harm.
When a lawyer thinks about personal injury litigation, they are thinking about the law of torts. Torts is a legal term that means a “civil wrong” resulting in harm to an individual. Under tort law, the victim is permitted to recover monetary compensation for the injury they suffered.
For example, a tort occurs if you were injured by a driver pulling out of a parking space while walking through a parking lot. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you could hold the driver and, possibly, the parking lot’s management liable for your injuries and monetary losses.
Depending on the conduct, a person who committed a negligent act could be held civilly liable in a Philadelphia court or, in some cases, criminally charged. In a civil court, the remedies available are limited to monetary damages. However, in certain situations, a case could run parallel to a criminal proceeding. In fact, you could be successful in a civil trial even if criminal charges are dropped or if the person is found not guilty. The standard of proof is substantially lower in a civil matter. Therefore, a drunk driver could escape criminal charges but still be held financially responsible for your injuries. This is because, in a criminal trial, a jury must find that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” While in civil court, the standard of proof is only a “preponderance of the evidence.” There is a significant difference between the two standards and our seasoned attorneys often have a better chance of success in a civil action than prosecutors do in a criminal matter.
Common Types of Injury Cases in Philadelphia
Personal injury lawsuits are one of the most common types of legal proceedings in Philadelphia and the country. One of the main reasons for this is that personal injury claims include a wide variety of issues and injuries. Negligent conduct could lead to everything from car accidents to medical malpractice claims. People in Philadelphia are injured in many different locations, including businesses, schools, and other people’s homes. The causes of these injuries are also seemingly endless, including injuries sustained while engaged in athletic activities to intentional acts of violence. At the Reiff Law Firm, our attorneys and staff represent a broad scope of people who experienced harm in numerous ways.
One of the most dangerous activities people in Philadelphia do every day is getting behind the wheel of their car. People, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bike riders, are injured in accidents throughout the area. In many instances, the injuries are severe, life-altering, or fatal. When someone is operating their car recklessly, driving distracted, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they should be held responsible for any injuries or damage they cause.
While similar to car accidents, truck accidents pose many additional legal issues. First, because of the size and weight of most commercial vehicles, the injuries sustained in truck accidents are often catastrophic. Additionally, many truck accidents involve federal regulatory issues and more challenging questions regarding liability. In a car accident, it is usually much less difficult to determine who was at fault. Because of the carnage left after an accident involving a massive tractor trailer, it might require additional investigation to understand what occurred. Furthermore, the driver, the trucking company, a shipping company, or even the truck manufacturer could be held accountable for your injures. The attorneys and staff at the Reiff Law Firm have years of experience handling complex truck accident litigation.
Another common type of vehicle accident that occurs in and around Philadelphia are motorcycle crashes. With the congestion on roadways like I-76 or I-95, it is not surprising that a motorcycle rider will be struck by another vehicle. Because of their size, motorcycles are often difficult to see. Careless behavior that might not pose a threat to other motorists could be fatal to a motorcyclist. In addition to the typical issues surrounding any accident case, a motorcyclist usually has a reputation of recklessness that needs to be overcome. Our seasoned Philadelphia attorneys understand the hurdles associated with representing motorcycle accident victims.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Other than motor vehicle accidents, people are probably most familiar with slip and fall accidents. These types of lawsuits have been played for comedic effect on television and the movies for years. However, if a person loses their balance and falls, the resulting injuries could be everything from a minor bruise to a coma-inducing brain injury. In many cases, a slip and fall accident results in serious injuries that take weeks or months to heal. A key element in a slip and fall case is chaining together the string of events that lead to the accident. From store managers failing to clean up a spill to property owners not adequately shoveling their sidewalk, our goal is to hold every responsible person accountable.
Another area of personal injury claims that is more prevalent than should be is medical malpractice cases. People in Philadelphia trust their doctors, healthcare providers, and other medical professionals to offer their patients professional and reasonable care. When medical mistakes or errors occur, the resulting medical complications and consequences could be serious or deadly. Medical malpractice cases are often complicated, requiring experience with many legal disciplines. You should not trust your medical malpractice claim with just any Philadelphia law firm.
The products we purchase are supposed to perform as intended – they are certainly not supposed to cause injuries. If a person is harmed because of a defective consumer product, an unsafe medication, a dangerous device, or a faulty auto part, the manufacturer or seller of the product should be held liable for any injuries.
Every property owner and landlord in Philadelphia has a duty to maintain their properties in a safe condition and up to code. When this is not the case, a person could suffer an injury due to an unforeseen accident. For example, a broken stair could cause a person to lose their balance and fall down a flight of stairs. Depending on the unsafe condition and the severity of the accident, injuries could range from a few cuts to spinal cord damage. The Reiff Law Firm could help you if you were harmed because of the negligent conduct of a property owner or manager.
What to Do if You Have Suffered an Injury in Philadelphia
No two incidents or injuries are the same, so there is no one set standard of actions to take if you were harmed due to another’s negligent conduct. However, there are some general steps to take to help begin building your personal injury claim from the moment you were hurt.
First, seek medical attention if immediately necessary. Even if this means ignoring the rest of the following advice – your health should be your most important concern. Even if you believe you suffered only minor injuries, you should still see your doctor within the next day or two. Many injuries, such as some back and brain injuries, are not readily apparent. Additionally, you could be feeling the effects of an adrenaline rush following an accident and be unaware of the extent of your injuries. If you want to pursue a personal injury claim, it is crucial to have either immediate medical treatment or treatment within 48 hours. Any delay could significantly decrease your chances of success in a lawsuit or of receiving a settlement offer from an insurance company.
If you are physically capable, you should begin gathering evidence. Many personal injury cases are won or lost on the quality of evidence available, and much of the best evidence is available moments after an accident.
Photographs are worth a thousand words, so take pictures of the scene. If it is a car accident, take photos of the damaged vehicles, the road conditions, and the surrounding area. After a slip and fall accident, take photographs of the condition that caused your fall and the scene of the incident. For example, if you tripped on a broken stair, take pictures of the staircase, the walls surrounding the area, and the lighting – especially if it was poor. Photographs will help our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys piece together what occurred and could help trigger witnesses’ memories.
Speaking of witnesses, gather the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. Their testimony could prove invaluable if your case goes to court. It also allows our office to interview them as close to the date of the injury as possible.
Finally, contact our Philadelphia personal injury attorney at the Reiff Law Firm. By retaining our services as soon as possible, it allows our office to preserve evidence and talk to witnesses before their memories begin to fade. If you want to maximize your potential recovery, you need to start preparing your case immediately.
Should You Talk to the Insurance Companies After Your Injury?
In nearly every personal injury case, the defendant will be represented by an insurance company. One of the first things to do after an injury and before filing a lawsuit is to contact any insurance provider included in the proceedings. It is essential to know what policy limits are in place and what type of recovery is available for our clients. Winning a personal injury lawsuit is pointless if the defending party does not have the means to compensate you for your losses.
If you suffered an injury, either in a car accident or slip and fall, the insurance provider for the at-fault individual or company would likely want to speak with you about the incident. Insurance companies have attorneys, actuaries, and adjusters working for them, attempting to either deny your claim or pay as little as possible when settling. It is important only to give basic facts when talking with a claims adjuster. Even though they might come across as friendly, they ask you very pointed questions trying to elicit a response that puts your claim in jeopardy. A simple statement such as “I feel fine” could compromise your position or provide evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. Our knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury attorneys will act as your agent and communicate with any insurance carriers involved in the case. This allows you to concentrate on your medical treatment and healing while our office works towards getting you the financial compensation you deserve.
As stated above, one of the crucial elements in the early stages of a personal injury claim is understanding the value of your claim. An insurance company will not be calculating the value of your injury or any other damages you have suffered in your favor. Often, they will base their medical costs on what their doctors or accountants believe your treatment should cost – not the treatment you require. Additionally, very few insurance providers will consider pain and suffering in their settlement calculation. If they do, it will typically be a standardized formula and not look at the actual effects of your injury. This is another reason why it is vital to have the skilled attorneys from the Reiff Law Firm representing your interests.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Philadelphia
Personal injury lawsuits are rarely quickly resolved. It is not uncommon for a case to last for a year or more before it comes to settlement. By filing a lawsuit, you are removing the claim from the control of the insurance adjuster and placing it in the hands of a jury or judge. In many situations, the threat of litigation or filing a lawsuit is required to get an insurance company to pay what your claim is worth.
An essential part of the process is understanding the value of your claim. Our personal injury attorney has the skill and resources to appropriately value your injury and potential damages. While it is impossible to know precisely what your settlement will be, by having a good faith estimate of its value, you can make an informed decision regarding accepting a settlement offer or moving forward with a lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The time limit will depend on the type of case you are bringing before the court.
Under Pennsylvania law, an injured victim has two years from the date of their injury to file a civil lawsuit. This deadline is serious, and it is critical to understand and adhere to this rule. If you do not file your case within this time, your lawsuit will likely be dismissed and you will have lost your opportunity to seek compensation through the Pennsylvania court system. Just as important, it is unlikely an insurance company would offer you a settlement if you allow this deadline to pass.
In cases involving the employee or an agency of the government, either local or state, there is a different deadline. You have a much shorter time to file your claim when a government agency is involved. Instead of two years, you only have 30 to 180 days to bring your claim, depending on the specific government entity involved.
Even though you have two years to file a claim in most personal injury cases, you should not wait that long. One of the key elements in a personal injury lawsuit is the medical evidence that links your injury to the incident. As time passes between the accident and when you bring the claim, the medical evidence becomes less compelling. If you have waited too long or neglected to seek timely medical treatment, a defense attorney will argue that your injury was the result of another incident. Furthermore, other critical evidence could be lost if you hesitate to retain an attorney. It is not uncommon for witnesses to forget important details or not be available. Additionally, video evidence could be erased or destroyed. To ensure your best chances of success in a lawsuit and increase the amount of your potential settlement, it is critical to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible after an injury.
Determining the Value of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Because personal injury claims in Philadelphia arise from a wide scope of situations, it is impossible to give a blanket estimate on what a claim is worth. Each case depends on what happened, the severity of the injuries, how those injuries affected the victim, among numerous other factors.
Before knowing how to proceed after you have suffered an accidental injury, it is essential to understand what your personal injury claim could be worth. Most people know that they could recover the medical costs, but your claim’s value is influenced by many more factors. Depending on the severity of your injury, you could be facing physical and economic problems well into the future. If you are experiencing a chronic condition or permanent disability, you are likely facing years of medical costs and treatments. You could have lost income, or your earning capacity might have been significantly diminished because of your injury. Our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys will thoroughly review your case and calculate a realistic figure that considers your future expenses.
The effects of a serious injury are always more than physical. Victims who were harmed through the negligence of others often experience mental and emotional distress. In many cases, an injury will impact a person’s ability to engage in activities that brought them joy. While it is challenging to calculate, our attorneys will value the percentage the injury negatively impacted your life.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania law allows injured victims to recover a wide variety of damages, many of which might not be apparent to the hurt person. In most cases, you will be able to recover economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are typically easy to understand. These damages include your financial losses associated with your injury and include medical expenses, hospital costs, medication, and lost wages. In cases where home healthcare or modifications to your house are required, the costs are also recoverable.
It is important to note that it is not limited to money that was lost up until the case was filed. If you anticipate additional medical treatment, the estimated costs would be included in the total amount. Additionally, your lost wages could include the money you would have earned except for the injury. Future lost income reflects your diminished earning capacity or your full income if you are permanently disabled or unable to work again.
Economic damages also include smaller amounts that are not immediately evident, including parking costs for doctors’ appointments, additional childcare, and countless other expenses that will depend upon your circumstances. Our Philadelphia personal injury attorney will use receipts, bills, income records, expert testimony, and other evidence to demonstrate your financial losses to a jury or judge.
Non-Economic Damages and Pain and Suffering
Non-economic damages are much more challenging to calculate but could be a substantial part of your total award. People often hear the phrase “pain and suffering” during conversations about personal injury lawsuits. Pain and suffering damages encompass a wide breadth of potential damages. Injured victims are entitled to recover for the mental and physical impact of the harm they sustained.
Every injury will affect an individual differently. The impact of a broken arm will depend on the victim’s age, health, and lifestyle. If you were an avid tennis player, a severely damaged shoulder will negatively impact your ability to engage in an activity you love for months, years, or a lifetime if the injury is permanent. Likewise, the mental effects of an accident are unique to each injured individual. A car accident could result in nightmares and a significant loss of sleep for one person and instill a fear of driving in another. Non-economic damages should reflect each victim’s situation.
At the Reiff Law Firm, our attorneys and staff will work with you, your family, and healthcare providers to determine the true impact of your injuries on your physical and mental wellbeing. Our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys will consider various factors and evidence when deciding the amount of damages sought. We will offer our professional opinion on the value of your claim and the damages you are likely to receive if we take your case to court.
Do You Need an Attorney to File an Injury Lawsuit in Philadelphia?
To hold any defendant liable in a personal injury claim, you must prove that their conduct was negligent. While the type of case will dictate the specifics necessary to demonstrate negligence, there are four essential elements of negligence that are required. This can get complicated to do yourself, and you have nothing to lose by speaking to a personal injury attorney. Almost all plaintiff’s firms offer free, no-obligation consultations in which they will review the facts of your case.
In many cases, the defendant will hire an attorney or will have an insurance company working on their behalf. You do not want to face these obstacles without competent legal advice. Insurance companies are not working for you and are looking to avoid paying a settlement or paying as least as possible. Their attorneys will look for every legal angle to deny your claim or shift the blame on you. Even if they make an offer, you should not accept it without speaking with someone from our office. If an insurance company has made a quick offer, you can almost ensure that it was done to avoid a potential lawsuit or to stop you from hiring an attorney. Without understanding the actual value of your claim, you are not able to know whether the offer was fair. You do not want to be up against an insurance company without our Philadelphia personal injury attorney at your side, fighting for your rights.
The first step in any lawsuit is meeting with an attorney to review the facts of your situation. Through a thorough interview, we will begin building the foundation of your case. Our attorneys and staff will go over a detailed description of what occurred, how you were injured, where it happened, and any other vital details relevant to your situation. Part of the initial discussion is the extent of your injury, the treatment you have already received, and the medical treatment you will require. Linking your injury to the incident is critical in a personal injury claim. The severity of your injury also strongly influences your potential compensation. You must document your medical treatment and follow through with any instructions your doctor gives you. Without sufficient medical documentation, it is nearly impossible to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit.
Another question many people have after suffering an injury is, “should I file a lawsuit?” They might believe the accident was just that – an accident. Not everyone realizes they were the victim of another person’s negligence. This thought is not uncommon. While it is nearly impossible to provide a set guide to whether you have a personal injury claim, the best thing to do is schedule a free consultation and discuss your matter with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney from the Reiff Law Firm. By reviewing how you were injured, our office will be able to explain how the law would apply to your situation.
Our office will also begin to gather other evidence related to your case. Much of the work involved will depend on the type of accident and injury. If you were in a car accident, we will question eyewitnesses, request police reports, review the accident scene, try to preserve and collect any surveillance video, and in some cases, recreate the accident to determine what could have happened. In a slip and fall case, we will look to witnesses, incident reports, store surveillance video, and testimony from employees. When trying medical malpractice cases, our office will use expert opinions from qualified medical professionals.
Proving Negligence in an Injury Case in Philadelphia
First, our office will have to show a duty of care existed. Whether a duty of care exists will depend on the relationship of the parties involved in the case. For example, every motorist has an obligation to operate their vehicle safely. Therefore, in a car accident case, there is a duty of care shared by every driver on the road. In other cases, this might be different. The duty of care between a doctor and their patient is different from the duty of care between a store owner and a customer. Our office will have to look at the facts of your case to determine the duty of care.
Most personal injury cases center on the next element – a breach of the duty of care. A breach of duty occurs when a person’s conduct does not adhere to what a reasonable person in a similar situation would do under the same circumstances. As with the duty of care, a breach will depend on the facts of your case. If a driver is driving drunk, then they are clearly breaching their duty of care. However, if they are driving at the speed limit during a heavy rainstorm, they could be breaching their duty of care. Our Philadelphia personal injury attorney will have to prove that the conduct in question was something no reasonable motorist would have done.
Next, our law office will have to show that the breach caused the injury. Depending on what occurred, this could be relatively easy or another difficult legal hurdle. When a drunk driver ignores a red light and hits another car, the injuries sustained were likely a direct result of their dereliction of duty. However, a doctor could make a grievous mistake, but their patient’s condition was terminal. In this case, even though the doctor made a careless mistake, the eventual harm was unavoidable.
Finally, you must have suffered actual damages. If you were in a car accident and walked away with just a bruised arm, it is unlikely your injury justifies a personal injury lawsuit. However, if your injury resulted in a hospital stay, surgery, physical therapy, or a loss of income, you have suffered harm. Our Philadelphia personal injury will work with you and your doctor to determine the extent of your injury and damages.
“Modified Comparative Negligence” in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Not every accident is the fault of one person. In some situations, an injured person’s conduct could have contributed to the incident. When a plaintiff is found to have shared a degree of blame for an accident, it could affect their compensation.
Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative negligence doctrine in personal injury cases. It the simplest terms, this means that the compensation a victim is entitled to receive will be reduced proportionally by the percentage they are found to have contributed to the accident. If a person is found to be more than 50% to blame for an accident, they are not permitted to recover anything from any other party.
To illustrate how the modified comparative negligence rule works, suppose you were involved in a rear-end collision at a stop sign. Your car was struck from behind. However, one of your brake lights was malfunctioning. At your Philadelphia civil trial, in this case, the jury determines that your broken light was 20% to blame for the accident. The other driver’s conduct was held to be 80% at fault. The jury awards a total of $80,000 of damages in the case. Because of the modified comparative negligence rule, the $80,000 will be reduced to $64,000. The $16,000 represents your 20% contribution to the accident.
Other Pennsylvania Laws Affecting Personal Injury Claims
Pennsylvania has a no-fault insurance system. Under this system, in nearly every car accident, an injured person’s insurance provider will cover their medical expenses and lost income. It does not matter who was at fault in the crash. A passenger injured in an accident would turn to the insurance company of the driver, no matter how the accident happened.
Most minor accidents in Philadelphia fall into this no-fault category. Drivers who have a limited tort policy are not permitted to recover compensation for their pain and suffering unless they meet a “serious injury” threshold. The term “serious injury” appears vague. Under Pennsylvania law, a serious injury results in death, severe impairment of the body’s functions, or permanent disfigurement. A court, with the help of our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney, will evaluate the evidence of your injury to determine the extent of the harm you sustained. Catastrophic injuries, such as amputation, brain injuries, spinal cord damage, or paralysis, are serious. A court will not prohibit compensation for these types of injuries based on the threshold.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in Philadelphia?
It is difficult to estimate exactly how long it will take your personal injury claim to settle or go to trial. In some situations, it takes time to determine what occurred, such as in a multi-vehicle accident with conflicting witness testimony. Other cases involve unreasonable insurance companies or defendants who drag procedural processes out for weeks, months, or even years.
The best thing an injured victim can do is retain dedicated legal representation, such as the Reiff Law Firm. Our attorneys and staff committed to representing your interests – no matter what hurdles present themselves.
Call Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Review of Your Case
Our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys have decades of experience representing individuals who have suffered harm because of someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct. If you suffered a severe injury, you should concentrate on your medical treatment and allow our committed attorneys to fight for your just compensation. Our office is dedicated to holding people and companies accountable for the harm they cause. You should not have to bear the physical, emotional, and financial burden when you were injured through no fault of your own. The attorneys and staff at the Reiff Law Firm will fight for your rights. To schedule a free, confidential appointment, call our office at (215) 709-6940.