Lehigh Valley: 610-435-7400

Philadelphia: 215-567-6616

Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Injury Claims

What You Need to Know When You Have Suffered a Personal Injury

When you have been hurt because of someone else's wrongful act, you may be at a loss as to whether you need to seek legal counsel, and what steps you need to take to protect your interests. At Metzger & Kleiner, we understand the stress and anxiety that come with uncertainty. We have been helping personal injury victims in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley for more than 40 years. We have provided this page to answer some of your most basic questions regarding personal injury claims. We also offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers, contact our office online or call us at 215-567-6616 in Philadelphia, or 610-435-7400 in the Lehigh Valley.
  • How do I know if I have a personal injury claim? Though you can always seek compensation when someone else intentionally hurts you or damages your property, most personal injury claims are based on allegations of negligence. In a claim based on negligence, you must show that the person who caused the harm failed to act as a reasonable person would have, and you must show that you suffered injury as a result of that failure. The injury does not need to be physical in nature. You can seek compensation for economic loss, as well as emotional distress. In some situations, where the activity engaged in is inherently dangerous, you may not need to show carelessness or negligence. This is commonly referred to as "strict liability" and is usually established by statute. For example, in many states, companies that manufacture explosives are often strictly liable for any injuries caused by their products.
  • Is there a difference between personal injury attorneys and other attorneys? In today's era of complexity, it is rare that an attorney will practice in more than a select few areas of law.   Some attorneys only represent people in bankruptcy cases or corporations in mergers and acquisitions.  The same is true in the field of personal injury law - - there are attorneys who only represent defendants and their insurance companies in personal injury cases.  If you are injured in an accident, it is best to consider whether you want to find an attorney who focuses on representing plaintiffs, only, in personal injury claims.
  • What steps should I take after a personal injury? In almost every instance, the first thing you should do is seek medical treatment. If you cannot move under your own power, or if you fear serious injury, you should allow yourself to be treated by emergency medical personnel and transported to a hospital if necessary. Though you will want to notify your insurance provider shortly after your accident, you will also want to retain a lawyer as soon as possible. Your insurance provider has a vested interest in paying as little as possible to settle your claim. Without adequate legal protection, you may forfeit some of your rights or accept less than you deserve. You will want to obtain copies of all medical reports and charges, and provide copies to your attorneys. If possible, you will also want to take pictures of the scene of the accident.
  • How soon must I take legal action? Every state has specific laws governing the time period in which you must file legal action to recover damages for a personal injury, known as the "statute of limitations." Your attorney should have a comprehensive understanding of the statute of limitations. This underscores why it is so important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you fail to file a claim within the required period (often two years), you will be prohibited by law from seeking compensation for your injuries.
  • What should I provide to my insurance company?  Your insurer may ask that you provide a written or recorded statement. You should never do this without representation from an attorney. Remember that your insurer is in business to make a profit. The less they pay on their claims, the more money they make. Don't provide any type of statement other than time and date of the accident. Your insurance provider may ask for a medical authorization. This will also likely be used in an effort to reduce or minimize your claim. Don't provide any type of medical authorization without consulting with your attorney. The insurance company may also send an adjuster to your home with a check, seeking to get you to accept a settlement. The immediate access to money can be tempting, but you will waive your right to any additional benefits.
  • I am injured and cannot work.  Am I entitled to Social Security disability benefits? When a worker becomes severely disabled for any reason, monthly benefits can be provided for the length of the disability.  Monthly benefits can be provided for the length of the disability.  Disability benefits are provided where someone has a severe condition that has kept him/her out-of-work for a 12-month period, and he/she lacked the capacity to perform work during this period.  If you are still working, but earning less than a $1,000 per month in gross wages, you may still be able to pursue a claim.  Some people with very grave medical conditions may meet Social Security's definition of disability based upon the medical evidence alone.  In most cases, however, Social Security disability benefits are awarded where the worker is incapable of performing any full-time work.  "Work" is defined as working eight hours per day, five days per week.
  • What is a contingent fee? Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis.  They only get paid if they win or settle your case.  In other words, the attorney's fee is contingent upon winning or settling the case.  This type of fee structure permits injured people to hire an attorney without having to pay a retainer or an attorney's fee in advance.  With a contingency fee, all people can afford a lawyer.
  • What is a statute of limitations? A statute of limitations is a law that limits the time in which you may file your lawsuit. In most personal injury cases involving bodily injury in Pennsylvania, suit must be filed within two years of the date of the incident. The statute of limitations is important, because if you file your case too late, it will be dismissed - - that is, thrown out of court.
  • What if the other driver's insurance company wants to take a recorded statement? Do not give such a statement until you have spoken with an attorney.  The insurance carrier will  most likely use a tape-recorded statement against you at a later date. When we accept a case, one of the first things we do is write a letter to the other driver's insurance company.  Once they receive our "letter of representation", they will not contact our client for any purpose.
  • How do I pay for my medical bills after my car accident? If your car was insured at the time of the accident, you will have some form of "no fault" insurance.  "No fault" insurance pays your medical bills; it doesn't matter whose fault the accident was.   Hence, the name "no fault." To make a claim for these benefits, contact us so that we may obtain the appropriate paperwork and sit down with you to fill out the documents.  Once these documents have been filled out, we will return them to your insurance carrier to ensure the prompt payment of your medical bills.  We will obtain a claim number for you which you will, in turn, provide to your doctor, physical therapist or other medical treatment providers.  The medical providers will bill the insurance carrier directly; they will not bill you.
  • What is a letter of protection?  What is a doctor's lien? If you have health insurance or car insurance to pay for your medical bills, your medical provider may still provide treatment even though he or she is not being paid immediately.  To ensure that the doctor is paid, the doctor's office may accept a "letter of protection" instead of immediate payment.  A letter of protection is a letter from your attorney and you to the doctor.  It confirms that we will pay the doctor's outstanding medical bills when you receive a settlement from your accident claim.Some doctor's offices will ask you to sign their version of a letter of protection that will give the doctor an absolute "lien" or right to payment against your case.  If you are presented with such a document, you should contact your attorney before you sign anything.  Your attorney may have his own letter of protection that he will want to use.  It is always best to consult an attorney before signing any letters of protection or any doctor's lien agreements.
  • The other driver's insurance company offered to give me a check if I sign a waiver.  Should I sign it? Before you sign anything, you should have an attorney review it.  By signing a waiver, you may be agreeing to forego future legal action.  One has to wonder why an insurance company would offer an injured person a small settlement in exchange for a "signing on the dotted line." Insurance companies are in business to make money - - not spend it.  If the insurance company offers you a quick, low-ball settlement, it may not be in your best interest to accept it.  Most likely it is in their best interest.  By accepting a small settlement, you may be signing away your rights to sue later for a reasonable award of damages.  Remember, an insurance company's loyalty is to its investors, not you.  That's why insurance companies employ teams of lawyers who work to deny injured people recoveries that are, often times, so badly needed.
  • I am planning to purchase new automobile insurance.  What's the difference between the Limited Tort option and the Full Tort option? Those who select the Limited Tort option may not bring an action for non-economic damages or "pain and suffering" unless they suffer a "serious injury".  A serious injury is defined by law as a personal injury resulting in death, permanent and serious disfigurement or serious impairment of a bodily function.  Those who select the Full Tort option may bring an action for pain and suffering with regard to all types of injuries.  Comparing the cost of these two options, you will find that the savings for Limited Tort are extremely minimal.  Don't give up your right to collect money for pain and suffering!  Select the Full Tort option.
  • What injuries are covered by workers' compensation? All injuries that arise in the course of employment and are related to that work are covered regardless of the workers' previous physical condition.  An employee's negligence will not preclude him/her from recovering compensation for the injury.  However, compensation will not be paid for injury or death which was intentionally self-inflicted or the result of an employee's violation of law.  In general, injuries caused by a third person are covered as long as they incur in the course of employment.  In fact, you my have a claim against the third party for your pain and suffering.  If you suffer an injury on the job, we will protect your rights and obtain all monetary and medical benefits to which you are legally entitled.

Contact Us

At Metzger & Kleiner, we provide a free initial consultation. For an appointment with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 215-567-6616 in Philadelphia, or 610-435-7400 in the Lehigh Valley. We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. We won't charge attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.  Se habla Español.

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