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January 16, 2018

What’s a Realistic Settlement Amount for My Traffic Accident?

Traffic accident lawyer in oa

Lawsuits are often time-consuming and emotionally draining, so it’s little surprise that many people want to settle their claims outside of court. A settlement allows you to avoid going to trial and possibly losing, and it lets you get money fast. If you’re struggling to pay mounting medical bills, then you should talk to your car accident lawyer about what kind of compensation you can expect to receive in a settlement.


Ignore the Insurer’s Initial Lowball Offer

In many traffic accident disputes, you won’t be negotiating with the other driver, but with their insurer. If you are injured by a transportation vehicle, then you might be negotiating with the company’s business insurer. In any event, you shouldn’t be surprised if they give you an initial lowball offer. The initial offer is just like the sticker price on a car you see at the dealership. It’s a starting point for negotiations, nothing more.

Your traffic accident lawyer will be focused on getting a higher amount of compensation than what is initially offered, and they’ll use evidence that the other driver is at fault as leverage. To help things, you should work with your car accident lawyer to get the evidence you need to sue. For example, write down your own memories after the accident and let your attorney know the identity of any witnesses to the crash.

How Much Are My Injuries Worth?

This is a complicated question and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. A lot depends on the injuries you suffer and how much it costs to treat them. For example, if you need surgery to manage a traumatic brain injury, then your medical expenses will be a lot higher than if you only suffered whiplash. Your total compensation also depends on the following factors:

  • Your age
  • How much income you make
  • Whether you can return to your old job or to any job at all
  • Whether you will you need continuing medical treatment or rehabilitation
  • Your pain and suffering
  • How much damage was done to your car in the wreck
  • Whether your injuries have affected your marriage

Sometimes, you can easily apply a dollar amount to your injury. For example, if you’ve received medical treatment, you can add up the medical bills and arrive at a number. But other injuries, like pain and suffering, are more difficult to determine. Your personal injury attorney should fully evaluate the evidence to determine how much you are likely to recover for these non-economic damages.

How Motivated is the Other Side to Settle?

You also will need to consider how much money the other side is willing to pay. If your case drew a lot of media attention, then the insurer might be highly motivated to settle your dispute. When comedian Tracy Morgan was injured by a Walmart truck, Walmart actually reached a settlement with Morgan directly instead of having their insurers negotiate with him. Unsurprisingly, Walmart probably wanted to get a settlement out of the way so that they could get out of the news cycle and make the case disappear.

Conversely, some insurers might like to play hardball. If you hire an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney, then they can anticipate what tactics the other side will use. For example, you might need to wait out an insurer that plays hardball and not settle until your trial date begins to approach.

Were You Partially at Fault?

Sometimes, more than one person is partially to blame for the accident. For example, both cars might have run red lights and crashed into each other at the intersection. In this situation, it’s wrong to say that only one side is to blame for the accident when both drivers were careless. Furthermore, some drivers might only be partially at fault—but they aren’t 100% blameless.

In some states, if the victim is even a little bit to blame, they can’t receive any compensation for their injuries. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has taken a different approach. In Pennsylvania, the amount of money you receive will be reduced by your percent of liability.

For example, let’s say your injuries are worth $100,000. If you’re 50% to blame for the accident, you can only get $50,000. However, Pennsylvania also requires that you not be more to blame than the other side. This means that if you were 51% responsible for the accident, then you can’t recover anything.

Only a jury can assign blame, but during the negotiation process, each side will have a good idea of the circumstance surrounding the accident. For this reason, they can reasonably anticipate if you were partially responsible for your injuries. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a settlement—you very well might. Instead, it means you might get a smaller amount than you would if you were 100% blameless.

Settlement Is Voluntary

You should never be afraid to enter settlement negotiations with an insurer since you always have the power to walk away. A settlement is entirely voluntary, and if you aren’t pleased with an offer, you don’t have to accept it. Instead, you can go to court and try your chances in front of a jury.

Of course, if you try to negotiate without the help of a lawyer, then you might quickly accept a lowball offer, simply because you are feeling overwhelmed or in dire need of money. To get the compensation you deserve, you should never sign anything an insurance company gives you without running it by your lawyer at first. In fact, you should tell the insurer to only talk with your lawyer.

Call a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Lawyer Today

Traffic accidents often leave their victims in a state of fear, depression, and physical pain. You are not alone. At The Levin Firm, we help accident victims and their loved ones get the compensation they deserve. We’ve worked tirelessly to help victims begin to rebuild their lives by holding the parties at fault legally responsible. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183, or fill out our online contact form.

January 10, 2018

How Expert Witnesses Can Help Your Traffic Accident Lawsuit

How Expert Witnesses Can Help Your Traffic Accident Lawsuit

 

To hold someone accountable for your traffic accident, you need to present evidence. Quality evidence will include eyewitness testimony, including your own testimony, about what happened. Even though you don’t have to prove the other driver is at fault “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you do have to show that it is more likely than not that they are responsible. This is called “proof by a preponderance of evidence,” and sometimes you need expert witnesses to meet your burden.

What Are Expert Witnesses?

Most witnesses are only able to testify as to what they have personally experienced, such as what they saw or heard. For example, the passenger in your car can testify that he saw a car come tearing through the intersection and plow into your vehicle. However, if the witness goes further and offers an opinion about what happened, the judge should exclude the testimony.

Expert witnesses are different. An expert doesn’t need to personally see the car accident but can instead offer an opinion about who is responsible. Expert witnesses typically have information that the jury needs to render a verdict, and can explain complicated concepts that help the jury do its job of finding the truth. Depending on your circumstances, you might need any of the following expert witnesses to win your traffic accident lawsuit.

Accident Reconstructionists Bring the Accident Alive

Sometimes it’s pretty obvious what caused a crash. For example, all witnesses might agree that Car A hit Car B, and even the driver of Car B doesn’t dispute the fact. However, other accidents are not clear cut, and both drivers will deny any responsibility for causing the crash. In this situation, you might need to hire an accident reconstructionist.

Using their training in physics and math, accident reconstructionists will analyze the evidence to find out what actually happened. For example, a good reconstructionist will assess the following:

  • The final resting place of all vehicles involved in the crash
  • The damage to the vehicles
  • Other accident scene evidence, such as tire marks
  • Witness statements
  • Police reports

After analyzing the evidence, a reconstructionist will usually create a 3-D presentation to show the jury, typically using computer graphics or 3-D models. This recreation helps to bring the accident to life for the jury so that they can “see” what happened. Based on their analysis, an accident reconstructionist can offer expert testimony about:

  • The speed each vehicle was traveling
  • The angle of impact
  • The severity of impact
  • Whether the accident was avoidable
  • What actions each driver took right before impact

Medical Experts Explain Injuries

To get compensation, you’ll need to show that you are injured and that the other driver’s negligence caused the injury. Also, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries. Because of this, you’ll probably need to have a doctor testify as an expert witness. This person doesn’t necessarily need to be the doctor who treated you at the hospital. Instead, you can hire someone else who will review all of the medical records and test results and base their testimony on that information.

You can also expect the defendant in the lawsuit to have a doctor testify on their behalf as well. This doctor might try to claim that your injuries are not as serious as you claim, or that you have a good chance at recovery. If you don’t have a witness in your own corner, you’ll be at a disadvantage come trial.

Engineers Show How Products are Defective

If you’re claiming to have been injured by a defective product (such as an air bag, car seat, or seat belt), then you will probably need an expert witness to testify. Jurors don’t know how these products should be designed or manufactured, so the expert witness will supply this necessary information.

For example, you might claim that a seat belt was designed improperly. An expert will rely on her experience and training to show what was wrong with the design and explain how the seatbelt should have been designed instead.

Sometimes a product design is sound but the product itself was manufactured in a defective way. An expert witness can help here, too, pointing out to the jury what was wrong with the specific product that was sold to you.

Vocational Experts Prove Lost Earning Capacity

Many accidents will cause you to miss work, but bad accidents could keep you out of work permanently. You might become disabled and not be able to return to your old occupation, or you might not be able to work at all in the future. You can receive compensation for your lost future wages, which is called your “lost earning capacity.”

Proving how much you’ll lose in wages is complicated, and vocational experts step in to help. They will analyze your current medical condition and see what jobs you can do in the future—and which ones you can’t do. They will also calculate how much you could have earned had you not been injured.

Finding Qualified Witnesses

If you’re going to use an expert witness, then you should find the best—someone who can speak to the jury in a way that is easy to understand. Also, every expert must be qualified as an expert with the judge, so you need someone with impeccable experience and education. Although you can certainly look for experts on your own, a traffic accident attorney is a big help.

At The Levin Firm, we regularly work with expert witnesses to help our clients get the compensation they need. We’re skilled at finding the right expert for your case and making sure they are available to testify on your behalf in court, if necessary.

Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today

It takes time and effort to build a strong lawsuit, and you shouldn’t just hire the first name you see in the phone book. At The Levin Firm, we’ll do everything we can to convince the jury that you deserve every penny you are asking for. Call us today for your free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.

January 9, 2018

Defective Car Seats Can Cause Serious Injuries

Car Accident Lawyers in PA

You buy a car seat so that your children will be safe. But sometimes a car seat is defective, and it fails to do the job you bought it for—during a traffic accident no less. When products like car seats don’t work the way you expected, then you’re probably frustrated and angry. Fortunately, you might be able to sue the manufacturer for the injuries your child has suffered. Contact a Philadelphia traffic accident attorney today for a free consultation.


Common Child Seat Defects

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents are a leading cause of death for children 13 and under. For this reason, Pennsylvania law requires that parents use a child safety seat for children under 4 and a booster seat for children ages 4-8, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.

But a defective child or booster seat will fail you and your child in an accident. Common defects include the following:

  • A defective plastic shell. A weakened shell will crack under pressure and not provide the expected support to your child. A shell can be weak because the manufacturer used inadequate materials or because it constructed the shell improperly.
  • Flammable materials. A manufacturer might use low-quality materials that will catch on fire during an accident.
  • Improperly labeled shoulder harness slots. You might not know to properly secure the car seat through the harness slots if there isn’t an adequate label.
  • Faulty adjusters. The straps need to be adjusted properly so your child is secured. When the adjusters are faulty, your child might be injured by the straps.
  • Defective buckles or latches. When buckles and latches fail, your child won’t be secured properly in a crash. They may be ejected from the seat or become trapped in the seat, suffering injuries.
  • Improperly located chest clip. If the chest clip is too low on the body, then your child can be ejected from the car seat during an accident.

Determining Who to Sue

If your child is injured through someone else’s fault, then they should certainly pay compensation. But you and your personal injury lawyer need to identify the correct parties to sue for the injury. Generally, you can sue the manufacturer as well as anyone else down the supply line who is responsible for the defect in the child seat. Obviously, this depends on the circumstances, but you can often sue the manufacturer, supplier, distributor, or retailer.

Each of these parties owes you, the consumer, different legal duties, and you can sue them when they fail to fulfill their duty. For example, you might be able to sue for the following:

  • Providing inadequate warnings explaining the risks associated with the child seat
  • Failure to discover defects in the seat
  • Failure to properly disclose to you the vulnerabilities in the car seat
  • Designing a defective child seat
  • Manufacturing a child seat with defects
  • Failing to properly test a product before placing it on the market
  • Failing to properly inspect the car seats that it manufactures or distributes

When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, they will need to interview you about the circumstances surrounding your purchase and use of the car seat. They will also probably need to inspect the car seat as well. Only an expert witness can testify as to whether a car seat was designed or manufactured improperly, and a good personal injury attorney should be able to find expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf.

What If I’m to Blame?

Many parents feel guilty whenever their child is injured, so what you are feeling is normal. However, it’s highly unlikely that you are to blame for the child seat being defective. Unless you’re a product engineer, you wouldn’t even know what to look for to determine if the car seat was manufactured properly or whether it had any hidden vulnerabilities.

Also, the law imposes duties on manufacturers and others to warn consumers of hazards. You are not legally responsible for anticipating that the child car seat is dangerous. It’s up to the manufacturer and others down the supply chain to provide this information to you, and when they fail they are legally responsible.

Of course, you might be responsible for the car accident that led to your child’s injury. For example, you might have rear-ended another car, and your child was injured as a result. These facts won’t necessarily prevent you from getting compensation, so you should still schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia traffic accident attorney as soon as possible.

What Compensation Can I Get?

The purpose of the civil legal system is to allow accident victims to be put in the position they would be in had the accident had never happened. This means you can receive financial compensation for economic and non-economic harms, such as the following:

  • Reimbursing you for medical treatment, such as doctor or hospital visits, as well as prescription drugs
  • Paying for any physical therapy your child will need as a result of the injury
  • Compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the accident

Determining how much compensation you are entitled to is an individualized process, which a qualified attorney can only make after meeting with you and analyzing your situation. If necessary, your lawyer might recommend that you take your child to a doctor or other medical specialist to assess the full extent of their injuries. Injuries to the head, for example, might take years to fully develop, so you want to know the severity of any injury before considering how much to sue for.

Call a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Attorney Today

Parents should feel confident that the car and booster seats they purchase will work as expected. When children are injured unnecessarily because of defective products, you might be entitled to compensation. At The Levin Firm, we help traffic accident victims hold parties at fault accountable for manufacturing and selling defective car and booster seats. Call us today at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form. Consultations are free.

January 8, 2018

Can I Sue the Government When One of Its Vehicles Causes My Accident?

Vehicle Accident Lawyer in PA

 

Suing a driver for causing a traffic accident is usually straightforward in Pennsylvania. You find out where the defendant lives, file a complaint in court, and serve a summons and copy of the complaint on the other driver, usually at the driver’s home. But what happens if you’ve been injured by someone driving a government vehicle? With so many government vehicles on the road, this isn’t a remote possibility; government employees are as capable of causing a wreck as any other citizen. Read on to find out when and how you can sue a driver of a government vehicle to recover compensation for damages.

Government Vehicles on the Road

There are many state and local agencies that have employees out on the road as part of their daily jobs. Consider some of the following vehicles you’re likely to see every day:

  • School buses
  • Police cars
  • Ambulances
  • Fire trucks
  • Department of Transportation vehicles
  • City vehicles

The drivers of all of these vehicles owe the other drivers on the road a duty of driving with reasonable care. Unfortunately, government employees sometimes make mistakes, just like other drivers on the road. They may become distracted or careless and cause an accident.

Injuries Caused by Government Drivers

Negligent government employees can cause catastrophic injuries to unsuspecting drivers on the road. If you’re hit by a government vehicle, you might suffer from any of the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Eye injuries
  • Spinal injuries, such as a herniated disk or fractured vertebrae
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • Thermal or chemical burns

Recovery time can be extensive, with many victims suffering from intense pain that keeps them out of work. All the while, medical and other bills continue to pile up, putting further emotional strain on victims and their families. Depending on the severity of the injury, victims sometimes suffer a loss of companionship with their spouse and withdraw from family and friends. They may sink into a deep depression that requires therapy and psychiatric drugs.

Immunity Law in Pennsylvania

This might surprise you, but state and local governments are generally immune from lawsuits brought by their citizens. For example, the state’s Sovereign Immunity Act, 42 Pa. C.S. Section 8521, limits the state’s legal liability for any injuries that government agencies and their employees cause. Likewise, the state’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa. C.S. Section 8541, limits legal liability for local agencies like the city. This means the government can hurt you through no fault of your own and escape all legal responsibility for your injuries.

Fortunately, each law contains an exception for automobile accidents caused by government employees. The state law allows you to sue for the operation “of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of a Commonwealth party.” And the political subdivision law permits you to sue for the operation “of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of the local agency,” provided you aren’t suing because you are a criminal who was injured when fleeing arrest.

According to each law, you must show that the vehicle was in the “possession and control” of the state or local government. Essentially, this means you can’t sue the government if someone steals the vehicle and then injures you with it. But, if a government employee is driving the vehicle as part of her normal job duties, then you should be able to sue.

What You Must Prove

As in most other traffic accidents, you’ll only get compensated for your injuries if you can show that the government driver was sufficiently careless (negligent). Moreover, the driver’s negligence must have caused your injuries. Common examples of negligence include the following:

  • Not looking before changing lanes
  • Not looking ahead
  • Blowing through an intersection
  • Speeding
  • Swerving
  • Ignoring traffic signs
  • Failing to yield
  • Texting or talking on the phone while driving
  • Not maintaining the vehicle properly, such as not repairing worn out brakes

Furthermore, you must show that you have a recognizable legal injury. For example, a city vehicle might have raced through an intersection and almost hit you. Although you’re probably very scared, you haven’t suffered an injury that the government needs to compensate you for. Instead, you’ll most likely only get compensation if you can show that you suffered a serious bodily injury. In those situations, you can recover the costs of medical treatment and pain and suffering.

Providing Mandatory Notice

Lawsuits against the government are a little different from other lawsuits in one important respect: you must provide the government written notice that you intend to sue it. In particular, you must provide notice to the government agency that controls the vehicle, and you need to provide notice to the state’s Attorney General.

Furthermore, you are only permitted six months from the date of your injury to provide this notice, so you can’t delay. The notice gives the government time to investigate so that it can decide whether to settle with you or to fight in court.

Your notice must contain specific information to be effective, so it’s a good idea to employ an experienced personal injury attorney before sending it. At a minimum, your notice must contain the following:

  • The victim’s name and residence
  • The name and residence of the person who is bringing the lawsuit (if different from the victim)
  • When the accident occurred (date and hour)
  • The location of the accident
  • The name and office address of your attending physician

If you fail to provide this written notice to the appropriate government offices, then your lawsuit will be dismissed. This means no money for your injuries, no ability to hold the government agency responsible for its actions, and no lawsuit.

Call a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Today

Accident victims deserve compensation, whether they are injured by a private citizen or a government employee. At The Levin Firm, we help accident victims and their families get the compensation they need to start rebuilding their lives. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.

January 5, 2018

Can I Get Compensation if I’m Partly to Blame for a Traffic Accident?

Can I Get Compensation if I’m Partly to Blame for a Traffic Accident

The short answer to this question is “yes.” The longer and more accurate answer is “sometimes.” When it comes to receiving compensation for a traffic accident, everything will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case, which your personal injury lawyer can analyze for you. If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, don’t put off calling a personal injury lawyer because you know you are partially responsible for the accident. You can still work to get the compensation you and your family need.

History of Negligence Actions

When someone injures you in a traffic accident, you will probably sue for “negligence.” Basically, this is when you allege that the driver owed you a duty to drive with reasonable care and he fell short of that duty by speeding, swerving, or committing some other traffic violation. If the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, you can typically recover compensation.

Pennsylvania law used to be fairly unforgiving if the injured driver was in any way negligent herself. In that situation, a person couldn’t sue at all—even if the other driver’s negligence caused catastrophic damage. This type of pure contributory negligence system prohibited plaintiffs from suing for negligence if their own negligence was even 1% responsible for the accident.

Comparative Fault Today

Fortunately, Pennsylvania has followed the lead of other states and realized the unfairness of a pure contributory negligence system. Now, you can recover compensation even if you are negligent—so long as you are not more negligent than the other party.

For example, a mother might sue a driver who rear-ends her, causing injuries to her child. However, it is discovered that the mother had failed to properly secure her child’s safety seat, so the child was thrown free and fell on the car floor. A jury finds that the mother is 50% responsible for her child’s injuries, and that the driver who rear-ended her is also 50% responsible. In this situation, the mother can receive compensation because she isn’t more responsible than the other driver.

Conversely, imagine if the mother had stepped on the brakes to make a left-hand turn without ever using her turn signal. After a driver rear-ends her, her child is thrown from the child seat that she had failed to properly secure. In this example, a jury might find that the mother is 75% responsible for her child’s injuries and the other driver is only 25% responsible. Because she is more responsible than the other driver, she cannot receive any compensation for her child’s injuries.

In short, Pennsylvania’s comparative fault system allows you to receive compensation if you were less than 51% responsible for the accident. Any percentage of fault over that amount will prohibit you from suing.

Evidence to Show Your Lawyer

It isn’t always easy to determine who is responsible for a traffic accident. Both sides will probably deny any responsibility, so the issue will be disputed if you go to trial. Your lawyer will need to fully assess the facts of your situation, including the following:

  • The police report. The police report should apportion responsibility for the accident. Of course, the police officer’s opinion isn’t a fact that the jury must accept, but it is important evidence to know.
  • Photographs of the scene of the accident. These can show where the vehicles ended up and if any obstructions (such as tree branches in front of stop signs) contributed to the accident.
  • Photographs of the vehicles involved. Use your smartphone or ask someone else to take pictures.
  • Witness testimony. Try to identify witnesses to the accident. The police report should name some, but you should also get names and contact information as well.
  • Your own testimony about what you remember happening. Sit down as soon as possible after the accident and write down what you remember, if anything.
  • Any surveillance or camera footage in the area. If the accident happened in a parking lot, then there should be surveillance footage.
  • Cell phone records, which might show which drivers were texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident.
  • Medical records, which show your injury. Your injuries can sometimes reveal the angle of impact.

It is important to collect as much of this evidence as you can to show your personal injury lawyer at your initial consultation. If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will also be able to help you find some of this information. For example, your attorney may subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records and visit the scene of the accident.

Estimating the Compensation You Can Receive

If you were less than 51% at fault, the good news is that you can still receive compensation for your injuries, which means money to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering. The bad news is that the amount you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Return to the example above. If a mother is 50% at fault for her child’s injury and a jury determines her losses to be worth $40,000, then she will only be able to get half of that amount, or $20,000. Her amount is reduced by her proportion of fault. By contrast, if the jury found she was 20% responsible for the injury, then she would get 80% of the verdict amount, or $32,000.

If you hope to settle your lawsuit, you should expect to settle for less if the evidence shows you were at least partially responsible for the crash. Any insurance adjuster will reduce the amount they offer you; however, you can still receive a meaningful settlement to help pay for your injuries and pain and suffering.

Talk to a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today

Being partially at fault for an accident doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve. At The Levin Firm, we have helped countless victims hold drivers responsible for their actions, even if our clients made some mistakes as well. Call us today for a free consultation and case evaluation at 215-825-5183, or fill out our contact form.

December 28, 2017

Why Are Some Car Accident Cases Contested?

car accident lawyer in pa

Car accidents happen—in fact, quite often. Pennsylvania saw nearly 120,817 car accidents throughout the state in 2016.

Car accident cases resolve without issue when one driver admits fault—but not so easily when the parties debate who caused a collision and who should bear liability.

Why Is Determining Fault Important?

Determining fault assigns liability to one or more drivers involved in an accident. Accidents are, of course, accidental. Still, many times they result from the negligence of one or more drivers.

Negligence is a legal term that is perhaps best understood by first evaluating one’s duty of care. The law expects every driver to maintain a duty of care toward the other drivers on our highways and city roads. The driver must drive in a safe manner and avoid causing harm to others. A negligent driver breaches that duty of care to other drivers.

What Causes Accidents?

Common causes of car accidents include:

  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving—when a driver diverts attention from the road by looking at a phone, eating, changing the music, or paying attention to anything other than driving—is a leading cause of today’s car accidents. (Nationwide, distracted driving killed almost 3,500 persons in 2015.)
  • Speeding. Drivers who speed, traveling well over the posted speed limit, tend to give themselves less time and space to react—which can make the difference between avoiding an accident or causing one.
  • Reckless driving. Drivers can cause accidents by driving recklessly—including by driving while under the influence, failing to observe traffic signs, making improper turns, or failing to account for weather conditions.

How Is Fault Determined?

To determine which driver acted negligently, insurance agencies and their attorneys will look at various documents, including:

  • Police reports. Police are required to prepare accident reports whenever they are called to accident scenes. A report will often include accounts of the accident as given by drivers, passengers, and other witnesses. It will also include a report as to what the police officer observed at the scene of the accident.
  • Photos of the accident scene.Drivers should take pictures of the accident, both cars, and the surrounding area. Pictures can prove important in determining fault.
  • Vehicle damage. Reports and photos help paint a picture of the accident. Looking at a damaged vehicle does provide a better opportunity for insurance companies and experts to determine fault. Assessing vehicle damage can either corroborate or counter accident accounts.
  • Witness testimony. Witness testimony can play a pivotal role in determining fault. Witnesses, especially uninterested observers, can provide an unbiased account of the events that caused the accident. Witness can help determine whether a driver acted in a manner that caused the crash—for example, by speeding or weaving through traffic.
  • Surveillance or camera footage. Sometimes, the best sources of information for determining fault can come from video recordings. Buildings with surveillance cameras may capture events that caused the accident, thus providing unbiased perspectives.

Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law provides another reason for parties to contest Philadelphia automobile accident cases. Pennsylvania law recognizes comparative negligence, a legal defense in which a plaintiff who drove negligently at the time of the accident can still recover compensation. However, comparative negligence is not a total defense. Under Pennsylvania law, negligent plaintiffs can recover damages only if they were less negligent than the defendants.

Insurance companies will want to contest liability to avoid having to pay compensation unless required. They will conduct careful and detailed reviews of the facts about the accident. If an insurance company concludes that a client was less negligent than the other driver, the insurance company may not feel obligated to pay damages. Thus, comparative negligence provides insurance companies with lifelines as they contest automobile cases.

Available Compensation in Automobile Accident Cases

Medical expense damages help a victim recover the costs of current and future medical expenses for accident-related injuries. This can also include the costs of rehabilitation.

Pain and suffering damages compensate a victim for non-monetary losses. Specifically, these damages provide compensation for both the physical and emotional pain that a victim may suffer as a result of an accident.

An accident may render a victim unable to return to work, whether temporarily or permanently. The victim may recover damages for lost wages based on earning capacity

Contact A Philadelphia Automobile Accident Attorney Today

If an automobile accident injured you or a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is a contested case. Rather, you deserve to recover from your injuries without further headaches. You deserve the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you.

After you recover from your injuries, seek experienced legal counsel to help recover compensation. The skilled automobile accident attorneys at The Levin Firm have experience handling these cases. We will review your case and help create and implement a legal strategy designed to help you obtain the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or visit our website.

December 18, 2017

Car Accidents are a Major Cause of Back Injuries

Car Accident Lawyer in PA

Traffic accidents cause thousands of injuries each year and are the leading annual cause of spinal injuries. The possible need for long-term care, among other things, can complicate the determination of damages for injuries. Effectively dealing with spinal injury issues can require professional assistance.

If you suffered a spinal injury in a Philadelphia area traffic accident, seek an attorney to protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Take advantage of a free consultation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

Car Accidents Cause Many Back Injuries

Car crashes are the leading cause of spinal injuries, ahead of falls, gunshot wounds and other acts of violence, and sports accidents. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, traffic accidents cause 38 percent of all spinal injuries based on data collected from 2010 to 2015. The UAB researchers estimated that as of 2015, 125,000 spinal cord injuries take place each year, and between 240,000 and 337,000 persons currently live with spinal cord injuries in the United States.

An Asian Journal of Neurosurgery study found a high probability of automobile accidents causing serious spinal injuries. The researchers did not determine whether this was due to car manufacturing standards, inadequate safety measures in cars, poorly designed roads, or poor driving, among other possible causes. The study also shows that, while spinal injuries constitute a small fraction of automobile accident injuries overall, spinal cord injuries are in general more severe than many other types of injuries, with the potential to disable people permanently, damaging their financial situations and the quality of their lives.

Car Accidents Often Cause Serious Neck and Back Injuries

Upper spine or neck injuries are frequently result from automobile accidentsespecially rear-end collisions. Because the central and lower spine are better protected by the seat and seat-belts, the upper spine is more vulnerable. Symptoms in the upper part of your body, such as your shoulders, arms, and hands, potentially signal a cervical injury, including a disc herniation. However, the most common herniated discs take place in the lumbar spine, or lower back, and generally damages the control and comfort of your lower body, including your legs.

Though traumatic events, such as falls or blows to the back, can cause herniated discs, they generally result from gradual deterioration due to repetitive spine stress. Automobile accidents cause fewer cases of herniated discs, but a traffic accident can herniate an already degenerating disc.

The three types of spinal injuries, defined by the location on the spine of the injury, include:

  • Cervical. This portion of your spine involves the first seven vertebrae at the top of your spine near and including your neck.
  • Thoracic. Below the cervical spine is the thoracic spine, which includes the next 12 vertebrae.
  • Lumbar. At the bottom of your back is the lumbar spine, consisting of the final five vertebrae.

The human spine is a complicated structure consisting of bones, nerves, and muscles. Virtually all human movement is linked to the spine, and a back injury can result in long-term and potentially devastating consequences for essentially all daily life activities. As statistics show, spinal injuries are most commonly caused by automobile accidents.

Many Spinal Injuries Can Arise from Traffic Accidents

Discs are the soft cushions between vertebrae in the spine. They prevent bone-on-bone friction and make the spine flexible. A herniated disc can’t perform these functions properly, frequently resulting in back pain, numbness, and tingling in extremities. These symptoms can worsen with time.

Injuries higher on the spine control a greater portion of the body. Middle and lower spine injuries, at their worst, usually damage the control or comfort of the legs, possibly resulting in paraplegia, or lower body paralysis. An injury higher in the spine, such as the upper back of neck, is more likely to also paralyze the arms as well, resulting in quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs.

Car accidents may also cause compression fractures—small cracks in the spine’s vertebrae. With time, these cracks can cause the vertebrae to collapse, resulting in pain, changes in posture, and even breathing difficulties. They are more common in older people because of their weaker bones. Doctors may misdiagnose compression fractures as simply signs of aging—an estimated two-thirds of compression fractures go undiagnosed.

Even low-speed accidents can result in whiplash, which can lead to significant long-term injuries. While manufacturers design cars to suffer little or no damage at impacts of less than 10 miles per hour, the back and forth jerking from such impacts can still damage the human spine. Soft tissues in the neck and back are particularly susceptible to such violent jerking motions. Such impacts can strain, stretch, and even tear muscles, nerves, and connecting tissues. While most recover within weeks or months, some suffer longer-term and even permanent injuries.

All of these injuries can inflict significant long-term medical costs. Ensuring full compensation for such costs requires professional advice and assistance.

If You Suffered a Spinal Injury in a Philadelphia Area Traffic Accident, Contact The Levin Firm

If a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area caused your spinal injury, protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

December 12, 2017

Possible Auto Crash Outcomes

Car Accident Lawyers in pa

Traffic accidents cause thousands of injuries each year. Complex issues involving traffic accidents can include questions of fault, damages, and compensation. Not all of the many possible outcomes for an injury claim arising from a traffic accident are favorable to you. The following will help you learn those possible outcomes and how they might affect your ability to recover compensation.

If you have suffered a personal injury in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area, consult an attorney to protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help you after a traffic accident. Take advantage of a free consultation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

Possible Outcomes of a Traffic Accident Injury Claim Case

Unfortunately not every outcome favors people injured in traffic accidents. Sometimes, particularly when you are the one at fault for an accident, you have to accept the settlement offer you negotiate with your insurance company. Under these circumstances, the other driver won’t have to pay you compensation. In fact, the other driver will seek compensation from you and your insurance company. In such a case, what you receive from your insurance company might not even cover all of your damages, property or medical.

A traffic accident case can turn out many other ways. If you suffered a personal injury in a traffic accident that the other driver caused, your case can take several different paths—depending on the circumstances of the accident and the injury, as well as the decisions you, the injured party, make.

At its most basic, a personal injury claim is an attempt by an injured person to recover compensation from the negligent person who caused the injury. The injury can result from any negligent act, including a traffic accident. The injured party may seek to recover compensation through the negligent party’s insurance company or through litigation. If the matter goes to litigation, the injured party is known as the plaintiff, and the negligent party is called the defendant. Sometimes decisions made by the plaintiff or defendant influence the outcome of the case, and sometimes the legal process drives the outcome.

First, a plaintiff may decide to drop the case for any number of reasons. In cases where fault is at question, plaintiffs may decide to just take what they can get from their own insurance companies, having decided that litigation isn’t worth the effort or risk.

The case could settle. The vast majority of cases end in this fashion. Most never reach trial, especially when fault is clear-cut. A settlement is, essentially, an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant that the defendant will pay an agreed-upon sum of money if the plaintiff drops the lawsuit. Usually, a defendant does not admit fault under a settlement, and the plaintiff agrees not to pursue any other claims related to the same accident. The parties often submit settlement agreements to a judge for approval, making them legally binding. All settlements are different, but in general, they will compensate the plaintiff for medical damages, both present and future, lost income, property damage, and in some cases compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress.

If large sums of money are at stake or fault is murky, a defendant’s insurance company may decide to fight that case at trial. If the matter goes to trial, two possible outcomes could result. If the plaintiff wins, the plaintiff will receive compensation, with the amount generally determined by the jury, based on evidence of damages—which typically includes medical treatment costs, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Another possible outcome of a trial, of course, is that the defendant wins. In that case, the plaintiff receives nothing—and depending upon the jurisdiction, might have to pay some of the defendant’s costs of going to trial. These could include court filing fees, any fees charged for process servers, witness fees, and attorney fees to the extent allowed by statute.

No matter who wins at trial, the losing party might decide to appeal the verdict. The reasons for appeal can be procedural (meaning the appealing party believes the trial judge took an action or issued a ruling that contributed to an improper outcome) or substantive (meaning that the decision of the trial court—whether by judge or jury, depending upon the type of trial—was simply so wrong, flying in the face of plain evidence, that appellate court cannot allow the verdict to stand). Because appellate courts generally presume the trial court’s decision is correct, the latter appeals rarely succeed. Even a procedural appeal must show that the court’s ruling on some issue was egregiously wrong and by itself changed the outcome of the trial. That is a difficult standard to overcome.

If You Were Injured in a Traffic Accident in the Philadelphia Area, Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers of The Levin Firm

If you were in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area and suffered an injury, explore your compensation options with The Levin Firm. Your personal injury claim could reach many different possible outcomes, but The Levin Firm can help you navigate it through the legal system to your just compensation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

December 8, 2017

Insurers Often Give Low-Ball Settlement Offers

Insurers Often Give Low-Ball Settlement Offers

After a traffic accident, your first point of contact is frequently either your insurance company or, if the other driver is clearly at fault, the other driver’s insurance agency. Whether you simply claim damage to your vehicle or injuries as well as property damage, insurance companies frequently offer less in damage payments than seems fair. What should you do when faced with a low-ball settlement offer?

If you suffered an injury in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area, consult an attorney to protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Take advantage of a free consultation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

What Should You Do When an Insurance Company Makes You a Low Offer?

Whether the insurance company is yours or the other driver’s, expect a low first offer. Insurance payouts, after all, are losses for insurance companies, and they try to minimize those. Insurance adjusters, for your company or the other driver’s company, are given a range within which they can make a settlement offer, and they will always pick the low end of the range to give themselves room to negotiate. Naturally, that means you should never accept the first offer, regardless of how much money it is, because the insurance adjuster typically has the authorization to offer more. The adjuster’s goal is to settle for as little as possible.

Don’t let them. Review the offer, and if the offer does not seem sufficient to pay for your damages and injuries, reject it. The insurance company is hoping you will accept it. Disappoint them, because you and they both know the offer is too low.

In general, if fault is clear you won’t get a letter or a phone call from your insurance company—or the other driver’s insurance company—with a settlement offer. You probably will receive a check in the mail. If you cash the check, you accept the offer.

Don’t cash the check, especially if the offer leaves you with uncovered damages from the accident. Once again, remember that the insurance adjuster will low-ball you simply because that’s the adjuster’s job—the insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible, strictly for business reasons.

Knowing whether the insurance company offered you a sufficient settlement, though, requires you to calculate the full cost of your damages. You need to counter with hard facts that demonstrate that the insurance adjuster’s first offer is too low and will not properly compensate you for your damages and injuries. The best way to show that this is to demonstrate the extent of your true damages and injuries. To do this requires that you:

  • Know what your car insurance policy covers. Do you have medical coverage, and what are the limits? Do you have comprehensive coverage that will cover damage to your vehicle? To claim damages, your insurance policy must cover those damages.
  • Document all of your medical bills, property damage, and any other expenses that the accident cause. This includes lost time from work, prescriptions issued because of the accident, mileage for trips to the doctor, and any other expenses related to the accident. All of these constitute your damages, and the adjuster might not include them in the settlement offer or even know about them.
  • Take into account the amount required to restore your vehicle to the state it was in before your accident. Get estimates and include those estimates in your calculation of damages.
  • Beyond dollars and cents, consider any treatments or physical therapy that your accident-related injuries required. Don’t forget to include missed work time, and whether your injuries interfered with your ability to perform your usual tasks at home or at work.
  • Try to determine if you will incur future costs, such as the likelihood of further missed work time, further necessary medical treatments or therapies, or even the possibility of permanent injury.

If you receive a low settlement offer, whether in the form of a letter, an oral offer, or a check, respond to the offer accordingly:

  • If the insurance company makes its offer via a check, return it with a letter stating the amount you want
  • State the reasons supporting the amount you want
  • Provide documentation of your accident-related expenses

Hire a Lawyer to Help With a Low-Ball Insurance Settlement

Even if you do everything right, the insurance company may not come forward with a fair offer. If an insurance company continues to resist a fair settlement, even in the face of documentation of your damages, experts say that the insurance company hopes to least partially blame the accident on you. At that point, this is no longer a negotiation, it is litigation, and the time has come to hire a lawyer—if you haven’t already. Even when dealing with your own insurance company, you are negotiating with someone whose interests are adverse to your own. This is particularly true if you have suffered serious injuries and huge expenses. The insurance company will try to limit its exposure to payouts for your damages.

If You Received a Low Settlement Offer in the Philadelphia Area, Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers of The Levin Firm

If an insurance company has given you a low-ball settlement offer after a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area, protect your rights. Your other compensation options could exceed the insurance company’s settlement offer. The Levin Firm can help. You can contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

November 30, 2017

Car Accidents Can Cause Serious Eye Injuries

Personal Injury Lawyer in PA

The number of Philadelphia car accidents—as well as car accidents statewide—has been increasing. In fact, as recently as 2015, Philadelphia County reported the largest number of personal injury car crashes and the largest number of fatal car crashes. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), which releases an annual statewide report about the number of car accidents, deaths, and injuries in the Commonwealth, car accident cases have steadily increased each year.

In large part, these car accidents are the result of reckless and careless driving on many of the multi-lane, high-speed highways and other roadways in the greater Philadelphia area. When car accidents occur at high rates of speed, serious and sometimes catastrophic injuries and damages can result. In some cases, these serious injuries may include permanent eye injuries.

If you sustained eye injuries in a car accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, the experienced Philadelphia car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm are ready to assist with your case. Our experienced car accident attorneys can meet to discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, negotiate a settlement offer with the insurance company, and represent you in court, if necessary.

Common Causes of Serious Philadelphia Car Accidents

Philadelphia car accidents can lead to serious and sometimes catastrophic injuries—including permanent eye injuries—in many ways. The most statistically common causes of serious car accidents in the Philadelphia area include:

  • Disobeying or disregarding traffic laws, signs, signals, and traffic control devices
  • Failing to appreciate and account for hazardous road conditions
  • Reckless, careless, and negligent driving
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

When drivers drive in careless or reckless ways, serious injuries can result, including to the eyes. Most eye injuries that result from serious car accidents come about as a result of trauma, including direct contact with a vehicle’s steering wheel, airbag, or broken glass. Common trauma-related eye injuries sustained in Philadelphia car accidents include:

  • Corneal abrasions – These injuries involve damage to the eyes’ surfaces, can result in significant amounts of pain, and can seriously harm a person’s long-term vision.
  • Lacerations – Lacerations usually take the form of small cuts on the eye or on the eyelid and can cause serious eye damage.
  • Orbital fractures – Orbital fractures occur when the bone around a person’s eye breaks.
  • Chemical burns – In some car accidents, an accident victim’s exposure to the powder used in airbags causes chemical burns to the eyes. These burns can be extremely painful and have the potential to inflict permanent eye damage.

If you suspect that you sustained an eye injury in a Philadelphia motor vehicle accident, seek prompt medical attention as soon as possible after your accident.

Proving Liability and Medical Damages

For an injured car accident victim to recover compensation for serious injuries and damages—including to the eyes—ordinarily, the injured plaintiff must prove negligence on the part of the at-fault driver.

Specifically, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that the at-fault driver had a duty to act as a reasonably prudent and careful driver under the circumstances; that the at-fault driver breached this duty of care, such as by speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way, or otherwise driving in a careless or reckless manner, and that this breach resulted in the accident victim’s injuries and damages.

The accident victim has the burden of proving the existence and severity of eye injuries, and insurance adjusters can be extremely difficult to work with. Whenever an accident victim seeks compensation for a catastrophic eye injury, the insurance company will likely downplay the seriousness and extent of the injury or injuries and will look for other possible causes of the injury or impairment, such as:

  • Prior eye surgeries
  • Degenerative findings on imaging studies
  • Preexisting medical conditions
  • Prior injuries
  • Diagnosed degenerative eye conditions
  • Prior motor vehicle or motorcycle accidents

Since the eye has many delicate nerves and bones, an eye doctor oftentimes must offer expert medical testimony at a deposition or trial to prove the existence and extent of an eye injury. An expert medical provider may testify about the accident victim’s medical treatment, the permanent nature of the injury or injuries sustained, and objective findings garnered from observations and permanency evaluations. All of this expert medical testimony can potentially increase the amount of compensation available to a car accident victim.

In a car accident case, the injured accident victim also has the burden of connecting injuries and damages to the car accident. In other words, the injured plaintiff must show that the injuries and damages sustained would not have occurred but for the accident. An expert medical provider, such as an eye doctor, must connect the eye injury to the subject motor vehicle accident.

Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation

If you have sustained an eye injury in a car accident that directly resulted from someone else’s negligence, the experienced Philadelphia car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm are ready and willing to assist with your case.

Remember that insurance companies are not on your side and want to pay out as little money as possible to settle your personal injury claim. Our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers have what it takes to hold insurance companies accountable and negotiate a fair settlement of your car accident case. If insurance companies fail to offer fair settlements, our experienced attorneys welcome the opportunity to litigate your case or take it directly to trial if necessary.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia car accident lawyer, please call us at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.

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