I’ve been injured. How do I know if I have a claim?
We’ve all heard or read articles about our “lawsuit happy” culture. The fact is that persons injured have had the right to bring a claim for compensation since colonial times. The law has evolved since then, but the fundamental principal that a party injured by someone else’s carelessness has a legal right to be made whole hasn’t.
How do you know if you have a case?
Only a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate the specific facts of your case and determine whether a case can successfully be brought. Our attorneys have successfully represented hundreds of clients who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, sports related accidents, dog bite incidents, and injuries which resulted from dangerous and defective products.
How long do I have to sue?
You might be familiar with the term “statute of limitations”. Each state sets time limits within which claims must be brought. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the time limit applicable to claims for injuries is two years. Failure to file within that two year time period will result in a claim being permanently time barred.
Can I still win a personal injury claim, even though I was partially at fault?
Yes. In Pennsylvania, so long as you are not more than 50% at fault, you can still be compensated for your injuries. Your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. As an example, assume you are injured in a car accident and the jury finds that you should be awarded damages in the amount of $100,000. If the jury also finds that you were partially at fault for the accident, say 30%, the damage award will be reduced by 30%. In this example, you would recover $70,000 ($100,000 - $30,000).
If I was injured on the job, can I still file a personal injury claim?
If you were injured on the job, in addition to filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, you can also file a personal injury claim if a party other than your employer was at fault for your injuries. For example, imagine you are injured when, while operating a punch press, the mechanism activates while your fingers are in the way. You may not bring a claim against your employer, but you may bring a claim against the manufacturer of the punch press if your injury resulted from a defect in its design or manufacture. Another example: Suppose you are a salesperson and you spend a lot of time in your car traveling from sales call to sales call. On the way from one call to the next, your vehicle is struck in the rear by a negligent driver. You can file a personal injury claim against that negligent driver. In each of these examples, as an employee acting within the scope of your employment, you can be compensated for your injuries through Workers’ Compensation and also file a personal injury claim against the party at fault for your injuries.
What is consortium?
The law recognizes that when one spouse is physically injured, the non-injured spouse is also affected. These effects range from intimate relationships to changes in personality making the injured spouse grumpy; testy; short-tempered; to extra work imposed on the non-injured spouse because his or her partner is no longer able to help with the children, the household chores, or maintenance.
Who pays for my medical bills in a personal injury case?
If you were injured as a result of an automobile accident, your own automobile insurance carrier pays for your medical bills up to the limits under your policy. After your automobile insurance policy limits have been exhausted, any remaining medical bills are paid by your private health insurance carrier. If you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, those programs also pay for medical expenses after any applicable insurance under your automobile policy is exhausted.
If you were injured in an accident other than an automobile accident, your medical bills are paid by your private health insurance carrier or Medicare or Medicaid as applicable.
Is there an obligation to reimburse my insurance carriers for the medical bills they pay for my treatment?
Yes, depending upon which insurance carrier pays.
If you were injured as a result of an automobile accident, and your bills are paid by your automobile insurance policy, there is no repayment obligation. If your private health insurance carrier paid some or all of the bills, there may be a repayment obligation depending upon whether you are a participant in a group plan offered through your employer. If Medicare, Medicaid or Workers’ Compensation paid any portion of the medical bills, they must be reimbursed.
If your injuries are not the result of a motor vehicle accident, you are obligated to reimburse your private health insurance carrier, Medicare, Medicaid and Workers’ Compensation, if any of your expenses are paid by them.
Keep in mind, however, that the amount you are obligated to pay in reimbursement is a part of the claim presented against the negligent party. A damages award will include these amounts, as well as compensation due to you for any out of pocket loss you sustain (such as co-pays and deductibles), any lost wages and the pain, suffering and trauma you’ve suffered.