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Personal Injury FAQs

PERSONAL INJURY INVOLVES MENTAL AND PHYSICAL INJURIES TO A PERSON CAUSED BY SOMEONE ELSE’S NEGLIGENCE. THESE INJURIES MAY BE SEVERE ENOUGH TO CAUSE THE PERSON’S DEATH.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury in Pennsylvania due to the negligence or fault of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages, disfigurement, scarring, pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, and other components. Sometimes the largest part of a claim can be the intangibles.

However, if your claim is not handled correctly, you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to. It is essential to have a good lawyer to make sure your case is handled promptly and properly.

The experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann know the law, the courts and the system. Cliff Rieders has written widely in the personal injury field and teaches law to other lawyers throughout the state. Cliff’s Annual Update of Torts is one of the most popular programs in the state, and Cliff’s books, such as Financial Responsibility Law in Pennsylvania and Medical Malpractice are mainstays used by the Bench and Bar. We do our best to understand and appreciate what you are going through. We offer a free telephone consultation to examine the facts of your potential claim. We will see you nights or weekends, if necessary, in order to help decide if we can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

People who have suffered serious personal injury are often confused as to what to do. They may be receiving telephone calls from police, insurance adjustors, friends and others. Here are answers to frequently asked questions which may help clarify your situation.

1. How do I handle insurance investigators, adjusters and police?

Make sure you have a lawyer. Any honest insurance person and police officer will be happy to deal with your lawyer and, in some cases, may actually prefer it. The law of personal injury can be extremely complex. Pennsylvania has doctrines such as comparative negligence, joint tortfeasor releases, underinsurance, and other complex laws and court decisions. You need to have somebody who understands the law and has a great deal of experience in it. Cliff Rieders is nationally Board Certified as a trial lawyer, teaches personal injury law to other attorneys, and is widely regarded as one of the best known trial lawyers in the state. Cliff is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, and is involved in writing the laws. Cliff has authored many pieces of legislation, and works with the American Law Institute to promulgate laws. Rieders is also a member of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Standard Jury Instruction Committee, which actually writes instructions for judges to give jurors when cases are tried.

2. How is fault determined in a personal injury claim?

Determining fault requires proving another party was negligent in causing your injury. This means:

  • The party had a responsibility not to injure you but failed to live up to that responsibility.
  • There is a connection between the other party’s responsibility and your injury.
  • You suffered damages, or a financial loss, as a result of your accident.
  • Pennsylvania has a doctrine which frequently applies to personal injury cases: the comparative negligence statute. Cliff Rieders was involved in the creation of this law and knows it well. Sometimes personal injuries may be the result of intentional misconduct, and that involves an entirely different variety of law.

3.Are there time limits on personal injury lawsuits?

Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. (42 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. section 5524). If the injury claim is against a city, county, or state government agency, you have six months to file a notice of intent to sue. Sometimes, the failure to give the six-month notice can be overcome. However, it certainly can be a problem. Generally speaking, the law in Pennsylvania is that the statute of limitations is two years. There are exceptions. There are exceptions for minors, and there is an exception in Pennsylvania under the so-called discovery rule. These are extremely complex areas of the law, and no one should guess at them. There are statutes, but there is also case law as to when the statute of limitations begins to run and when it expires. Once a statute of limitations runs, all of your rights are lost. You should never trifle with these dates, but rather you should talk with somebody who is extremely experienced in personal injury law.

4. What if I am partly to blame?

If you share some degree of negligence, it may affect the amount of compensation you receive. In the case of intentional misconduct, comparative negligence may not be a factor; but again, the circumstances are extremely important. Some insurance companies will deny coverage where there is intentional misconduct on the part of the person who hurt you.

Pennsylvania has a “modified comparative negligence rule.” Compensation is reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. If you are more than 50 percent at fault, you cannot collect anything from other at-fault parties.

5. Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault car insurance state?

The answer is that Pennsylvania is a hybrid state. As to first party benefits, which are usually very modest, compensation may be paid without regard to fault. This comes from your own insurance policy. It is also extremely important to know whether you have limited or full tort. Sometimes limited tort does not apply even if that is what you have purchased. It may depend upon the circumstances of the accident and the parties involved. Once again, this is an extremely complex area of the law and we suggest you take a look at Cliff Rieders’ book, Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, available through amazon.com. What Pennslvania defines as “serious injury” may overcome limited tort. As indicated, sometimes the option you have chosen will not even be binding upon you. There are certain forms that must be filled out, and sometimes insurance companies do not follow the law and hence the restrictions against the insured do not apply. Aside from coverage available through the negligent party, you may also have coverage through “underinsurance.” Underinsurance can be a policy you carry, or policies of others that may come into play. There can be umbrella coverage. Workers’ compensation is an important factor, if you are hurt on the job. All this requires serious expertise on the part of the lawyer you hire

6. Are there caps on injury damages?

There are no caps in Pennsylvania currently, but that is always being sought. There are caps in cases against the state or local agencies, unless the claim is under the civil rights laws. In some cases, there are punitive damages, where the proper standard of misconduct is met.

7. What if I am bitten or attacked by a dog?

Pennsylvania (3 Pa. Stat. § 459-502 (b)) may make the owner responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Of course, it depends upon the circumstances and once again you need to talk with somebody who is knowledgeable.

8. Fall-down cases.

Fall-down cases may occur because of a defect in the property, handrails, lighting, or failure to clear snow and debris. There are many circumstances under which you may have a claim for a fall-down. Of course, this depends upon the facts and circumstances.

9. How much is my personal injury case worth?

This depends upon the seriousness of damages. If you are seriously injured, need surgery, have large medical bills, miss a great deal of time from work, or are unable to work again, your personal injury case may be worth more money. There are many circumstances that go into valuing cases. We look at what other cases have produced throughout the state, and sometimes other states. We develop information and create models that help us prove your damages. Our office has pioneered video/DVD settlements, mediation, summary jury, and other techniques to evaluate and process claims effectively and fully.

10. How long does it take?

This is a variable circumstance. Some cases can be resolved through settlement or trial very quickly, and others cannot be. Good lawyers settle many of their cases, but the ultimate decision is that of the client. We talk with you about whether it is better to settle, go to trial, or utilize alternative dispute resolutions such as mediation or even arbitration.

11. How does my attorney get paid?

Typically, in personal injury cases, the attorney receives payment through a contingency fee agreement. Attorneys often lay out the costs for filing the case and do not get paid until a settlement is reached. At that time, the attorney gets a percentage of the settlement funds.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation – We Achieve Results When it Counts

Clifford A. RiedersThe seasoned Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. With our sizeable staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations, alternative dispute resolution or pursuing a trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.

If you or your loved one has suffered personal injury, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259 or by using our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.