Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in Philadelphia?
When golf legend Tiger Woods crashed his car last month, he suffered a long list of serious injuries. At this point, while his team of medical experts believes he will live, no one can say how long his recovery will take, how much pain he will suffer, or when he will be able to return to the golf course. If this was you, wouldn't you be asking, Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
In the split second it takes to consider this, it could happen to anyone. Nearly 200,000 Americans die each year from accidental injuries, including car accidents, falls, and poisoning, and there is no sign of this problem going away any time soon. Accidents are the third most common cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer.
What Is Personal Injury in Philadelphia?
When someone is seriously injured or killed in an accident – whether in a car crash, a workplace accident, or through medical malpractice – the incident falls into an area of law called personal injury. Personal injury law allows for a person who is injured – or the surviving family members – to sue the person or company responsible for the accident. The victim or survivors may be able to receive compensation to pay for medical expenses and other costs.
If a fatality is involved, the case is called wrongful death. In these cases, it is not uncommon for a victim’s surviving family to be awarded damages – such as a sum to compensate a spouse for loss of companionship, for example. It's not just direct victims that should be asking, Do I need a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia?
If You Were Seriously Injured, You Need a Personal Injury Attorney in Philadelphia
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, the path forward toward regaining your health and well-being is guaranteed to be challenging, and your focus has to be on your physical and emotional recovery. This leaves you in a vulnerable position when it comes to negotiating just compensation from the insurance company, and the insurance company is well aware of this fact. Obtaining compensation that covers your physical, financial, and emotional losses in their entirety is too important to leave to chance, which makes working with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer from the outset paramount.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case in Philadelphia?
A personal injury case will have teeth if the injured party can prove negligence. The law says that to prove negligence, a personal injury lawsuit must establish these three elements:
- There was a duty to take measures to protect someone from harm
- The person responsible neglected to take these measures
- That negligence directly caused the accident
- The accident resulted in injury
For example, if you slip on ice in the parking lot of the grocery store and break your leg, then a) the person who owns the lot had a duty to shovel and sand; b) the person breached that duty; c) the ice (that should have been sanded) directly caused the accident; and d)a serious injury resulted. As in this demonstration, if the accident’s circumstances meet all of these conditions, then the main premise of the case – liability – has been established.
You Don’t Need a Lawyer If…
In the aftermath of an accident, there are a lot of things to take care of. One of these things is insurance. If you understand the insurance system, feel comfortable filing your claim yourself, and have lots of free time on your hands, then you probably don't need a lawyer.
Likewise, if you were not really injured in the accident, but you totaled your car, you might not need a lawyer to deal with your insurance company – unless they refuse to pay. If the accident was your fault, you might need a defense attorney, but you won’t have a personal injury claim. If you’re not sure about any of these conditions, you should be seriously asking, Do I need a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia?
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do in PA
While you are recovering from your injuries or grieving for the loss of a loved one, you should not have to worry about your unpaid medical bills, other debts that have accrued while you are unable to work, or who is handling your personal injury claim. A personal injury attorney’s job is to take care of all of these things for you. An experienced lawyer will collect information and data to support your claim, file your claim for you, negotiate a settlement on your behalf, even take your case to trial if you can’t reach a settlement agreement.
Technically, you do not need a lawyer to get all of this done, but it is a very good idea to get one anyway. It's worth the time to seriously consider the question, Is this something I can realistically handle myself, or do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Addressing Your Losses in Philadelphia
The law addresses your accident-related losses in terms of legal damages, which break down into the following four basic categories:
- Property damage (such as to your car in a traffic accident)
- Medical expenses, which can begin with emergency care and can extend to surgery, pain management, rehabilitation, and beyond
- Lost earnings, which can include a decrease in earning potential
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering, which can prove exceptionally difficult to overcome
One of the most important tasks your Philadelphia personal injury attorney will take on is ensuring that the damages you have incurred as a result of someone else’s negligence are well represented in your accident claim.
Negotiating with the Philadelphia Insurance Company
Although the at-fault party’s insurance company will cover your personal injury claim, it’s important to understand that the insurance company is in the business of generating profits, and as a result, will do what it can to keep your settlement as low as possible. In fact, it has a variety of tactics it may turn to in its efforts.
Denying Your Claim from the Start
The insurance company recognizes exactly how difficult your post-accident position is, and as a result, it may deny your claim without even considering it – in the hope that you will simply give up. With a dedicated Philadelphia personal injury attorney guiding your claim, you will better understand its value and will look to him or her to skillfully negotiate for a fair outcome (instead of acquiescing to the insurance company’s strong-arm tactics).
Making an Early Settlement Offer in Philadelphia
If the insurance company comes back with an early settlement offer, it’s time to consider its motivation in the matter. An early settlement offer is generally an attempt to take care of a personal injury claim before the claimant fully recognizes the extent of his or her losses. It is always in your best interest to consult with a seasoned personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.
Artificially Prolonging the Claims Process
Personal injury claims are legally complex matters, but if the insurance company chooses to make the process even more complicated than it should be or if it artificially prolongs the process, it can leave claimants like you feeling hopeless and more inclined to accept paltry settlement offers. Your accomplished Philadelphia personal injury attorney has the knowledge and skill to keep the insurance company in check.
Another tactic the insurance company may adopt is attempting to shift fault away from the party who is identified as being at fault (its policyholder) and toward you (the claimant). Once the insurance company begins to cast blame your way, it can be very discouraging, and you can rest assured that the insurance company is well aware of this fact. Establishing fault is a matter for your experienced accident attorney. An important note here is that, in Pennsylvania, you can seek compensation in a personal injury claim as long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible for the injury-causing accident (and your compensation will be reduced accordingly – by the percentage you are deemed at fault). In other words, even if you do share fault, your claim may still be valid.
Denying the Extent of Your Damages
The insurance company may also attempt to deny the extent of the losses you’ve suffered. This is where ensuring that your full range of losses is well represented – and well documented – is so important. In fact, there are several steps you can take to help protect this aspect of your claim, including:
- Carefully following your doctor’s instructions and advice (when you take your injuries seriously, the insurance company is more likely to do the same)
- Allowing your personal injury lawyer to speak with the insurance company on your behalf (the insurance rep handling your claim is skilled at obtaining statements from claimants like you that go on to hurt their own claims)
- Refraining from posting comments and/or pictures about your accident on social media, such as Instagram and Facebook (the insurance company will make any information you do post its business and will be sure to twist the meaning to its own advantage)
A Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Is Here for You
Are you asking, Do I need a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia? Our advice to you is that you should focus on what is important – your mental, emotional and physical health – and we will take care of your claim.
Some of us have trouble prioritizing our time. We are an easily distracted generation and often find ourselves unable to prioritize our health, safety, and well-being. If you have been injured in an accident, your highest priority should be your recovery. There are many hours of work involved in pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, and that's why we are here.
At Mattiacci Law, LLC, we are always available to take your call. We can help you collect monetary compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With offices in both Philadelphia and New Jersey, we offer convenient locations and professional legal services. All of our work is free until you win money. Contact us today so we can get started on your case.