How Much Does a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer Charge?
In general, many Philadelphia personal injury attorneys take cases on a “contingency fee basis.” This agreement involves an attorney covering all upfront costs related to the case, which means victims do not have to pay anything out of pocket. Legal fees are only owed if the case is settled or resolved with a favorable verdict. In other words, you only have to pay your attorney if you win. However, you may still be responsible for court costs, filing fees, and the costs for expert witnesses regardless of the case’s outcome.
Be sure to discuss the terms of the agreement with your attorney and exactly what you will owe in each potential scenario. Contingency fee agreements can be very beneficial since skilled and trusted legal representation is made affordable to all. They also give victims peace of mind knowing that a lawyer would not accept their case if they thought they wouldn’t win.
At Rosenbaum & Associates, our attorneys handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. In personal injury cases, plaintiffs often face large insurance companies and corporations with deep pockets and high-powered defense lawyers. The contingency fee arrangement allows the injured to level the playing field and hire experienced attorneys that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
Types of Damages You Can Recover
Personal injury victims can potentially recover several types of compensation, known as damages, to reimburse them for their losses. These losses can be tangible, economic losses – such as medical bills – or less tangible, non-economic – such as pain and suffering.
Any bills for emergency services, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, prescription medications, physical and rehabilitative therapy, in-home care, and other treatment-related expenses for the injury, including required future care.
Any income you lose from being unable to work while you recover, as well as the amount that you are likely to lose in the future. If you experience a permanent or debilitating injury, you can also obtain damages for the difference in the income you can earn now compared to before the accident.
PAIN AND SUFFERING
Compensation for the physical and/or psychological pain a personal injury victim must go through. These losses are subjective, so different factors are taken into account when calculating their worth. For instance, the degree of the defendant’s negligence, the nature, and severity of your injuries, or the negative impact on your life.
This type of compensation is only awarded in cases involving a defendant who exhibited extremely reckless behavior. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and also deter others from similar conduct.
In most personal injury cases in Pennsylvania, there are no limits to the amount of compensation you can recover unless the claim is against the Commonwealth or a medical malpractice claim. Personal injury lawsuits filed against a government agency (such as the Commonwealth or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) are limited to $250,000 in damages. Damages in claims against local agencies or parties (such as the City of Philadelphia or a school district) are capped at $500,000. Punitive damages are not an option. In medical malpractice cases, punitive damages cannot exceed 200 percent of the compensatory damages (e.g., medical bills, lost income). Additionally, 25 percent of the punitive damages awarded must be paid to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Fund.
How Is Fault Proven in a Personal Injury Case?
To hold another party liable after a preventable accident, victims carry the burden of proving the at-fault party’s negligence is what caused their injuries. That involves providing evidence of the following four elements:
- Duty of Care: The defendant (at-fault party) owed you a legal duty of care. For example, Florida drivers are required to stop at red traffic lights to ensure the safety of themselves and others on the road.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant violated their duty of care. For instance, a driver who speeds through a red light violates their duty of care by engaging in an illegal activity that puts others at risk of injury.
- Causation: The defendant’s breach of their duty of care directly caused your injury. For example, you would not have been injured had the driver stopped at the red light and not crashed into your vehicle.
- Damages: Lastly, you must have suffered damages (financial losses). That can include economic damages, such as medical bills and lost income, and/or non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
This standard can apply to various personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability claims, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, etc.
Pennsylvania Personal Injury Laws
There are a number of state laws that may apply to your personal injury case.
NO-FAULT CAR INSURANCE
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, which means each driver’s auto insurer pays for their own medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses after an accident, regardless of fault. Your injuries must meet certain thresholds set by state law to step outside of the no-fault system and file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Pennsylvania is unique among no-fault insurance states because drivers can opt-out of the no-fault system and choose between a “full tort” or “limited tort” policy. Full tort policies eliminate all barriers to filing a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver, whereas a limited tort policy also allows victims to sue an at-fault driver but only if they have suffered permanent disfigurement, a serious impairment of body function, or death.
Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state and adheres to the 51 percent rule. Under this law, 42 Pa C.S.A. § 7102, the parties that contributed to a personal injury accident are assigned a percentage of fault, and their compensation is reduced accordingly. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 30% to blame, you will receive 70% of the award or $70,000. However, you must be less than 50% at fault to recover compensation. If you are assigned 51% or more of the blame, you will not receive anything.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
All states impose a statute of limitations on personal injury cases, giving victims a limited amount of time to pursue a claim. There are some exceptions, but in Pennsylvania, you generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit under 42 Pa C.S.A. § 5524. If the claim is against a government unit, you must give notice of your intention to file a claim within six months of the injury. Failing to bring a lawsuit within the specified amount of time will bar you from recovering compensation.
CONTACT OUR PHILADELPHIA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s reckless actions, contact Rosenbaum & Associates. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys can help you recover the compensation you need. Call to schedule a free case consultation with one of our attorneys today.