Personal injury lawsuits are the most common lawsuits filed in courts across all the states of the USA. In Pennsylvania, a personal injury lawsuit in 2021 amounted to $3 million, within which $1.8 million was for pain and suffering compensation.
You may be under the impression that lawsuits are a seamless way of recovering your damages in personal injury cases, but it is not that simple. The unbelievable six-figure settlements that make the news headlines result from the perfect internal organization and compliance with the legal procedures.
For small-scale settlement cases, such as settlements of $3000 or less, it may be possible for you to handle all the details by yourself; however, it is best to seek professional legal advice for settlements that are estimated to be higher.
Whether you take charge of your filing or work together with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney, it is very important to be aware of personal injury laws, the claim process, and the statute of limitations. The validity of all your claims determines how much your personal injury settlement will sum up.
Read on to know the details of Pennsylvania laws and regulations on personal injury claims and how to utilize them to make your case.
What is personal injury in Philadelphia, PA?
In legal terms, a personal injury is any form of physical, mental, emotional, or proprietary damage resulting from the breach of duty or negligence of another individual or an enterprise. It is important to note that personal injury only entails unintentional actions and arises from sheer negligence; this is very different from intentional actions that result in damage, which are considered under the criminal laws.
For example, slipping and tripping on the wet floor of a supermarket is a personal injury if the manager forgot to put a “wet floor” sign as a warning. Still, if someone deliberately pushed you on the ground resulting in severe physical injuries, it is considered assault. So, before you move on with estimating your injury claim, you must carefully assess whether the incident falls under personal injury.
Incidents that fall under the personal injury category in Philadelphia, PA
Many incidents may happen to anyone in their daily lives that count as “personal injury”; hence, personal injury cases are the most common form of lawsuit in the United States. The accidents that most frequently result in personal injury claims are as follows-
- Pedestrian accidents
- Workplace injury
- Construction accidents
- Vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective products or product liability cases
- Animal/ dog bite cases
Remember that in all of the cases, the accident should have resulted from negligence or lack of due diligence and should not be deliberate.
Pennsylvania statutes limit who you can file a lawsuit against
Pennsylvania law has a few statutes of limitation that you should be aware of before filing a personal injury lawsuit. The major statute is the one that limits the individual or agencies against whom a lawsuit can be filed by creating a list of groups and individuals who are excused from personal injury lawsuits-
- Youth sports trainers cannot be sued if their child got injured during a sports activity.
- Caregivers or paramedics who provide first aid cannot be sued if you suffer from any injuries when they provide the first aid.
- Any individual who harmed you while acting in self-defense cannot be sued.
- Any individual who forgot to warn you about the hazards of the recreational activities undertaken at their property cannot be sued.
- Civil lawsuits involving claims against a government body are considered a lawsuit against the “Commonwealth” as Pennsylvania and Kentucky and Massachusetts are members of the Commonwealth. There are additional details and limitations on filing these lawsuits under the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 5522.
Pennsylvania statutes on the time limit for filing your injury lawsuit
This statute of limitation under Pennsylvania law defines the time within which all personal injury lawsuits need to be filed for consideration by the court. This time limit is set at two years from the date of the incident. However, some cases are considered exceptions to this limitation-
- Construction defects: for properties that have been designed deficiently designed, planned, supervised, or constructed, lawsuits can be filed against the engineer, architect, or builder within 12 years from the date of construction.
- Sexual abuse cases in childhood: for people who suffered sexual abuse when they were minors (i.e., below 18) can file a personal injury lawsuit up to 12 years after they become adults (i.e. up to the age of 30).
What damages can you recover from a personal injury lawsuit in PA?
There is a range of economic and non-economic damages, according to Pennsylvania law, that can be compensated through personal injury lawsuits. These include-
- Property damage and repair expenses
- Medical expenses, including all medical bills, tests, doctor fees, and therapy
- Wages that were lost due to absence from work due to the injuries you suffered can be recovered, including future wages lost due to inability to work resulting from any impairment or temporary disability
- Expenses for extra help that was hired to help doing the daily household chores while you recovered from your injuries.
- Travel expense for the duration when you couldn’t avail public transport due to your injuries
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Compensation for loss of enjoyment
- Compensation for the period when you suffered from distress
- Compensation for the loss of companionship and social isolation
- Compensation for the loss of quality of your life due to the personal injury.
For cases that involve severe damages caused due to negligence such as drunk driving, additional compensation for punitive damages may be applied to punish the liable individual/parties involved.
How to calculate the worth of your personal injury claim in PA?
All the above-mentioned factors conjointly determine your personal injury claim in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Once you have assessed your case and gathered all the necessary documents, you can estimate your overall claim amount as follows-
all economic costs + add all non-economic costs ✕ the general multiplier.
The general multiplier depends on the severity of the damages incurred. Based on it, you can multiply the estimation 1-5 or sometimes even 10, to arrive at the final estimate.
Things to consider before you file a personal injury claim in PA.
It is important to note that Pennsylvania functions on a “modified comparative fault rule”, commonly known as “51% rule” which implies that you are not eligible for compensation if you are found to have more than 50% fault in the incident. So it is best to seek professional legal advice from the beginning of your lawsuit journey and let a Philadelphia injury attorney to evaluate the case to determine your chances of successfully recovering your damages.