PERSONAL INJURY FAQ’S

faq-imageQuestion: When is a person entitled to personal injury compensation?

A person who was injured as a result of negligent conduct on the part of the defendant is entitled to recover personal injury compensation if the jury finds that the defendant acted negligently and the negligence was a factual cause of the injury to the plaintiff.

Question: What is negligence?

Negligence is simply the failure to use ordinary care in the same or similar circumstances.

Question: If I think I have a personal injury case, when should I contact a lawyer?

If you have an injury or your property has been damaged and you believe it is because of something someone else did, you should contact an attorney immediately. Every state has deadlines called “Statutes of Limitation” which mandate the time within which you have to file a personal injury case. If you miss the deadline for filing your complaint, you can lose your legal rights forever. Therefore, you should contact a lawyer immediately to preserve the evidence and to reconstruct the details of the case before time elapses.

Question: What will it cost me to meet with a lawyer for my personal injury case?

There is no fee to meet with the attorneys at Shaffer & Gaier to discuss whether or not you have a potential case. In fact, Shaffer & Gaier does not bill its clients for personal injury consultations at all. Rather, our fees and expenses are deducted from the favorable verdict or settlement on behalf of our clients. If there is no recovery, you pay nothing.

Question: What do I do if an insurance company for the responsible party contacts me before I contact an attorney?

Often, the insurance company will try to contact you to settle the case for less than the full and just value of your case. Simply request the name of the insurance company and representative and claim number for the matter. Explain that you will be meeting with an attorney and you prefer not to have any further discussions with the insurance company until you have obtained proper legal advice as to you rights.

Question: Is it important to go to an emergency room after an accident?

Early treatment at the emergency room certainly helps to prove injury and provides medical personnel with the opportunity to identify any medical emergencies and will refer you for appropriate further treatment. Aside from your case, it is simply important to obtain the necessary medical treatment if you are injured.

Question: What medical benefits do I have under my motor vehicle insurance policy?

If you own an insured motor vehicle in Pennsylvania, then you may be entitled to first party medical benefits also known as Personal Injury Protection or PIP. This is a mandatory no-fault type of medical insurance for your own medical bills incurred as a result of the injuries sustained in an accident. Minimum coverage is usually $5,000. Regardless of who is at fault for an accident, your medical bills will be paid through your own PIP coverage so you don’t have to fight with the other insurance company when you need proper medical care. Also, your rates cannot increase because you make a claim under PIP.

Question: How do I recover lost wages if I am unable to work because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident?

If you do not have coverage for wage loss benefit under your motor vehicle insurance policy, then your wage loss has become part of your damages which are recoverable against the other party who was at fault in causing the accident.

Question: What is the difference between “Limited Tort” and “Full Tort” and which option should I choose?

When you choose the “Full Tort” option, you pay a slightly higher premium. However, you can seek recovery for both economic (wage loss, out of pocket expenses, outstanding medical bills) and non economic (pain and suffering damages) no matter what type of injury is sustained in a motor vehicle accident that is not your fault. When you choose the “Limited Tort” option you pay a slightly lower premium. However, you cannot seek recovery for non-economic damages, i.e. pain and suffering, sustained in a motor vehicle unless your injuries constitute a “serious injury.” Therefore, most sprain/strain-type injuries, often referred to as “whiplash,” or injuries that have heeled or no longer cause pain generally will not meet the requirements to overcome the Limited Tort option. Therefore, although you were not at fault for the accident, you cannot recover at all for these non-economic damages, i.e. pain and suffering, unless you have selected the Full Tort option.

Question: Is the manufacturer or seller for a defective product responsible for injuries caused by the product?

The manufacturer or supplier of a product is liable for the injuries caused to the user by a defect in the product which existed when the product left the possession of the manufacturer or seller. This liability is imposed even if the manufacturer or seller has taken all possible care in the preparation and sale of the product.

Question: What makes a product defective?

In general, there are three particular defects recognized under the law. The first is the design defect. The product must be provided with every element necessary to make it safe for its intended use. If the product lacked any element necessary to make it safe for its intended use and cause an injury as a result of that defective design, the manufacturer and seller is responsible for the defect. In addition, a manufacturer or seller may liable for a failure to warn. Perfectly made and designed products may be defective if it is not accompanied by proper warnings and instructions concerning its use. The defendants must give the user or consumer any warning and instruction of the possible risks of using the product that may be required. If the product did not contain such warnings or instructions, the defendant is liable for the harm caused to the plaintiff. Finally, there is a manufacturing defect. If a product malfunctions, then the manufacturer and seller is strictly liable for the harm caused. In product liability law, even if the user of the product did not use due care or was negligent, the manufacturer and seller is still responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

Question: What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice or professional negligence consists of negligent carelessness or unskilled performance by a physician on the duties imposed on him or her by the professional relationship with the patient. In other words, if the physician did not use the proper care and skill in the performance of a professional act, that physician was negligent.

Question: How do I prove that the doctor’s mistake caused me damages?

There are two types of ways that a doctor or hospital’s negligence causes damages under the law. The first is factual causation, which is simply the connection between the conduct and the harm which lead to the damages. However, there is also a causation where the negligent conduct increased the risk of the harm. This occurs when the doctor failed to act or delays to act and this delay increased risk of harm to the plaintiff. This is usually applicable when the doctor fails to diagnose a particular condition and if it had been diagnosed more timely, the plaintiff would have had a better recovery.

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