Personal Injury Law Topics
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How and Why we practice law
As the only attorney who sits on the Board of Directors of the Brain Association of Pennsylvania (BIAPA), I get a lot of referrals from both attorneys and medical professionals who treat patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s). Most of the cases that make it to my desk involve individuals and their families who have suffered great losses because of the catastrophic nature of the injury. With many of the “cases” it is difficult to assess what actually happened or how the injury occurred. I write about a case involving an 18 year old female who sustained a profound and permanent TBI because of a car crash. The case was referred to me by a rehabilitation nurse who was assigned to Jill’s care. Jill’s parents were at a loss thinking about Jill’s future, especially on how to pay the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for Jill’s future care and treatment. Jill was driving her car at the time of the crash. It was, by all accounts, a one-car crash. Jill was on a winding road in upstate Pennsylvania. From the police accident report, it looked like Jill lost control of the car and careened off of an embankment, flipping several times before finally hitting a tree….it sounded like a scene out of a movie. It was roughly a month after the crash and after Jill was admitted to a very well-known brain injury facility in Philadelphia before her parents consider exploring legal action or even speaking with a lawyer. They spoke to their family lawyer who advised them that there was no other vehicle so it appeared to be no case. The family lawyer nevertheless referred Jill’s parents to a lawyer who deals specifically with personal injury cases. This lawyer also echoed what the family lawyer said and advised that there was no case. Frustrated, Jill’s parents sought the counsel of two other personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia who also advised there was no case. They were rejected by four lawyers because the case, if any, was not clear cut. So why is Astor Weiss different? When the situation was brought to our attention by the rehab nurse and after she explained the rejection and frustration that Jill’s parents experienced we agreed to investigate the crash in a more advanced manner….we began thinking out of the box. Clearly there wasn’t another vehicle to pursue which was apparently the thought process of the other four lawyers who reviewed and rejected the case. Jill had no recollection of what happened, which is not uncommon for individuals who sustained a TBI. We had our work cut out for us. We elected to make the investment, both in time and money. We weren’t sure what, if anything we would find. We did exhaustive research, we dispatched private investigators to speak with the investigating police officers, surveyed the scene and investigated other prior crashes on this section of the roadway, we hired an accident reconstructionist and put together forensic evidence to help us assemble a working theory of the crash, we obtained possession of Jill’s vehicle and then had it examined for its crashworthiness, we had the tires and brakes examined and tested by experts. Four other lawyers before us did not do any of this. While doing our investigating, we closely monitored Jill’s physical and mental condition, visiting her in the hospital and when she was discharged making frequent visits to her home to keep her and her parents closely apprised of what we were doing. The case was settled shortly before the trial for enough money to give the family some sense of ease that Jill would be financially cared for the rest of her life. Jill is showing slight signs of improvement but will nevertheless endure a lifetime of suffering which Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel made just a little bit more bearable. This is how and why we practice law. David Woloshin Chairman, Personal Injury and Litigation Department Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
When one obtains a policy of motor vehicle insurance, they are required to choose between carrying “Uninsured” (UM) and “Underinsured” (UIM) motor vehicle benefits or choosing against carrying such coverage. Although you may opt-out of carrying UM and UIM coverage, the benefits greatly outweighs the risks. UM Coverage: UM coverage protects you from injuries you suffer as a result of a motor vehicle crash caused by another driver who does not carry motor vehicle insurance. Although it is required in all states to carry motor vehicle insurance coverage, the reality is that many drivers operate vehicles each day without any insurance coverage. If you are harmed in a motor vehicle crash caused by an uninsured driver, you must have UM coverage on your own car insurance policy in order to make a claim for compensation. By carrying UM coverage, you protect yourself from the possibility of being hit by a driver who unknown to you has violated the law by failing to maintain car insurance coverage. Underinsured Coverage: UIM coverage protects you from injuries you suffer as a result of a motor vehicle crash which was caused by another driver who does not maintain enough car insurance coverage to adequately compensate you for those injuries. For example, if you are involved in a serious car crash which results in significant injuries and extremely large medical bills and the person who caused you these injuries only maintains a minimal policy of insurance, you may not be able to be fully compensated for your injuries. UIM coverage allows you to make a claim against your own car insurance company for the additional compensation you are entitled to over and above what you are able to collect from the person who caused the crash. By making a UM or UIM claim, you are actually making a claim against your own car insurance company. Although the idea of making a claim against your own insurance company may seem daunting, it is important to recognize that your car insurance rates cannot go up simply because you made this type of claim, so long as the incident which caused you injuries was not your fault. Carrying UM and UIM coverage is essentially the only way to protect yourself against the unknown – something you won’t come to learn until it is too late. Both types of coverage extend to your family members who reside with you along with any other person in your vehicle at the time of the crash. The decision to carry UM and UIM coverage should be a simple one. The cost for choosing these elective forms of coverage is only a minimum increase to your car insurance rates and as demonstrated above, the benefits of having this type of coverage can be life-altering in the event you are involved in a motor vehicle crash. By: Jordan Schlossberg Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
What to do if involved in Car Crash
Important Steps to Take if Involved in a Car Crash If you are involved in a car crash, there are several important steps that you should take to best protect yourself, both medically and legally: Step 1: Contact the police – By contacting the police, you will ensure that a record of the incident is made and that the proper information is exchanged between you and the other driver(s). The police may also be of assistance in making sure you receive immediate emergency medical care. If the police will not come to the scene, make sure to document the other driver’s license plate, make/model of their vehicle, and their car insurance information. The more information you obtain at the scene, the less risk you run in failing to obtain a crucial piece of information which may be difficult to obtain at a later date. Step 2: Take photographs – Photograph all of the vehicles involved which were damaged as a result of the crash. Additionally, if you have cuts or bruises as a result of the crash, it is important to take photographs so that your condition is documented. Step 3: Seek medical attention – Often after a motor vehicle crash, victims feel overwhelmed with emotion and are generally shaken up. Pain due to injuries suffered from the crash can set in immediately or may take several days to begin negatively affecting you. It is always better to err on the side of caution and to visit the nearest emergency room or to see your family doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation of any part of your body which was affected from the crash. It is additionally important that you express to the doctor who examines you that your symptoms began or worsened as a result of the crash. Step 4: Contact an attorney – The quicker you contact an attorney, the better off you will be. By contacting an attorney, you can ensure that your rights are protected, as there are many circumstances for which your failure to act timely may cause you to be without any recourse. Additionally, contacting an attorney will ensure that you will not have to deal with any of the insurance companies involved and that all necessary steps are taken to make sure that your vehicle is fixed or replaced and that you receive necessary medical care. By: Jordan Schlossberg Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Worker’s Compensation – Is that it?
When a person in Pennsylvania is injured at work, regardless of whether the employer was at fault or not, the person is entitled to worker’s compensation insurance benefits which will compensate him or her for any lost wages. In exchange for being automatically entitled to such a recovery, the person is prohibited from suing their employer from damages as a result of pain and suffering her or she has experienced as a result of her injury. Most people happily accept this money without ever realizing that they may have recourse to receive damages from pain and suffering from another party. At Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP, we have many cases where our clients were seriously injured at work. All of these individuals were entitled and did in fact receive worker’s compensation benefits. However, in many of these cases, there were also other parties at fault. Examples of other parties that may be at fault while at the work place are manufacturers and designers of machines, transportation companies, and property owners. If you were seriously injured in a work accident you should still consult with a lawyer even if you have received worker’s compensation benefits. Specifically, at Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP, we can investigate and evaluate your claim to determine whether or not you have a claim. One brief phone call to us could be the beginning of a substantial recovery for you. By: David L. Woloshin Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Why is my friend getting more than me?
This is one of the most common questions we are asked. If you are in a car accident and a family member is in a different one- why isn’t recovery the same? There are many factors that go into determining a settlement value of a case. First- the specifics of the accident. No two crashes are identical. In one, the actions of the other may have clearly caused the crash but in the other case it may not be as clear. Second, the insurance may be different. Some insurance companies are easier to work with than others. Third, given this firm’s long history with litigation, we may have had the opportunity to work with the insurance adjusters before. If that is the case, that adjuster may remember how fair we were and be more likely to work fairly with us this time. Fourth, no two injuries are ever the same. Two people may have both hurt their necks- but the injuries are still different. One person may have had a prior condition that was made worse, another may have more time off of work because their pain tolerance is lower, and yet another person may not fully recover from a similar neck injury. The type and severity of the injury factors into the settlement. In every case, the experience of the lawyer in handling the matter plays a large part in the resolution of the case. That same experience leads the clients to understand what is recoverable and what isn’t- with easy to follow reasons. Each person is unique and so is their case- our approach is to work with each person to maximize the recovery for that person. By: Dina S. Ronsayro Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Social Networking After an Accident
Social Networking After an Accident After you are in an accident and are safe, you often want to tell the whole world how somebody did something wrong and hurt you. That feeling is extremely natural. However, it can hurt any potential case you may have. With the increase of social networks and the Internet, people are using it more and more to express what is happening in their daily lives. However, this same information that is being made available to your friends and family is also then available to the other side. A simple statement that “oh it wasn’t that bad” or “I’m not really hurt” can impact the value of your case. If you claim you hurt your leg and then post pictures of you rock climbing a few weeks later- it can impact the value of your case. The best rule of thumb is- when in doubt don’t post! By: David L. Woloshin Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Help Me, Help You
Help Me, Help You While I am certainly not Jerry Maguire, I often express the same sentiment to many of my clients. A common misperception that many clients have of the legal system is that once the attorney has the case, the client can completely disappear into the background and have nothing further to do with the case. However, this is a sure way to make things difficult for your attorney and can provide significant obstacles to your case. The truth is, an attentive and prepared client can be one of the most valuable assets to a case. Now, your question may be, why am I paying my attorney so much money if I am so important? Attorneys are experts of the law and an experienced, knowledgeable and a diligent attorney is essential to any legal battle. However, an attorney’s capability expands exponentially when he or she has a client that can provide them with as much of the details of a case as possible. The law often requires the application of facts to the law. An experienced attorney must be able to ask the correct questions, but the client must provide the answers. Not only is arming your attorney with the necessary facts of the case helpful to you, but it will also save your attorney time, allowing him or her to focus on the most important issues and tasks of the case. This will make your case move along more efficiently and may even save you money by having your attorney spend less time sifting through the weeds of the case. By assisting your attorney, you are essentially assisting yourself. By: Jordan Schlossberg Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Personal Injury Case for My Child
Settling a personal injury case for my child In Pennsylvania, a child’s parents can file a lawsuit on behalf of their child. If the parents and lawyer believe a settlement is appropriate, then they must seek Court approval. The Court will review the facts of the case and the proposed settlement and costs involved to make sure that the minor is being protected. Only after the Court approves the settlement, may the defendant pay the agreed upon amount. By: Dina S. Ronsayro Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Types of Compensation Available if Injured
There are several categories of “damages” which one may be entitled to when they are injured as a result of someone else’s actions or inactions. Property Damage: You are entitled to recover the costs of any damages which occur to your personal property as a result of someone else’s negligence. This could include anything from property damage to your car to damage which occurs to a piece of your jewelry. Medical Bills: You are entitled to recover for any medical expenses which you have incurred for treatment of injuries caused by someone else’s wrongdoing. This includes medical bills for treatment which occurred from the date of the incident through the point in time in which your case resolves as well as for future medical care which may be necessitated after your case resolves but which was caused by the same incident. When calculating the amount of damages which one is entitled to recover for past medical treatment, it is important to note that one may only recover an amount equal to the amount paid by that individual’s health insurance, or in the event that the injured person does not have health insurance, the total amount in which the medical providers have billed for the treatment which they provided. The amount of damage which one is entitled to recover for future medical expenses is based upon what the injured party’s physicians believe will be required to cover future medical care. This amount could relate to the amount for future medical procedures such as surgery or additional maintenance treatment to ensure the injured individual’s condition does not worsen. Lost Wages: You are entitled to recover for any money you failed to receive due to your inability to work because of injuries which someone else caused you to suffer. This includes both past and future time missed from work. When calculating past lost wages, you may recover for any pay which you would have otherwise received but for your inability to work due to your injuries, up to the time in which your case resolves. You may also be entitled to recover for future lost wages if your injures will prevent you from returning to work for an extended period of time, including the prospect of never being able to return to the same job which you had prior to the incident which caused your injuries. If you were required to change your job or profession due to your injuries, you may be entitled to the difference in wages of what you were earning prior to the incident as compared to what you are earning after the incident. Pain and suffering: You are entitled to recover for the pain and suffering which you were forced to endure due to your injuries and medical treatment caused by no fault of yours. Pain and suffering includes any past and future physical pain or discomfort, stress, inconvenience and mental anguish. It also includes embarrassment and humiliation caused by your injuries such as possible changes in your appearance as well as scarring or disfigurement. Lastly, and often most importantly, you are entitled to compensation for loss of life’s pleasures and your inability to enjoy the same activities which you participated in prior to the incident. Loss of consortium: Lastly, the category of damages known as loss of consortium relates to the ways in which an injured party’s spouse is negatively affected by their love one’s injuries. When an individual is injured by someone else, often times the injured individual’s spouse is required to alter their life in order to provide the necessary care for their significant other’s speedy recovery. As a result, this can cause an injured party’s spouse to be deprived of support, comfort and companionship for which their spouse previously provided prior to the incident which caused their injuries and the injured party’s spouse is entitled to compensation for this loss. By: Jordan Schlossberg Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
Homeowner responsibility for injuries
Duty Owed by Possessor of Land to the Public In Pennsylvania, the purpose for which a person enters onto another’s property will dictate the duty which the possessor of the land owes to that person and that person’s legal rights for any injuries suffered while they are on that property. Trespasser: If you enter another’s property without permission, you are considered a trespasser. If you are a trespasser, the possessor of the property owes you only a minimum duty to ensure that the property is safe. Licensee: If you enter another’s property for your own purposes with permission from the possessor of the property, you are considered a licensee. A licensee enters another’s property not for social or for business purposes, but for their own purposes, for example, when you walk on someone else’s sidewalk while en route to another location. The owner or possessor of the property (the sidewalk) owes persons walking on their property a heightened duty of care to ensure their safety, as compared to a person who is considered a trespasser, because they had permission to enter that property. However, because the person who entered the land (walked along the sidewalk) was only there for their own purposes and not for purposes relating to activity which is occurring on the property, such as a business, the duty owed by the possessor of the property is not absolute. Invitee: If you enter another’s property for reasons which are related to activity which is conducted on the property, you are considered an invitee. For example, if you enter another’s property for which a business is being conducted on, you are considered a “business invitee” and the owner or possessor of that property owes you the highest duty of care to ensure your safety. That duty extends to all areas of the property relating to the business, including the parking lot and inside the actual business. As a result of the fact that you were “invited” to enter the property for reasons related to activity conducted on the property (shopping at a store), the owner or possessor of the property must take all steps necessary to ensure your safety, including taking steps to not only fix unsafe conditions of the premises but also to take reasonable steps to learn about unsafe conditions of the premises as to avoid any harm to their customers. The most critical difference between the rights owed to an invitee as compared to a licensee is the requirement that the possessor of the property conduct necessary inspections to prevent unsafe conditions before they occur, as the invitee may reasonably rely on the fact that the possessor of the property took all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of others. This includes making sure that a parking lot is free and clear of snow and ice, making sure all entrances and exits are free and clear of any obstructions, and inspecting and maintaining the walkways inside the premises to make sure there are no hazards which could cause someone to slip or trip. By: Jordan Schlossberg Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)