Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer
Pittsburgh Personal Injury Attorneys
Like other cities across the country, Pittsburgh has its share of accidents that result in injuries.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that there were over 104,000 traffic crashes in Pennsylvania in 2020, resulting in 1,129 deaths and 61,248 injuries. That means that each day, there were 286 traffic crashes in the state.
Allegheny County reports that in 2020, there were 2,252 animal bites reported in that county alone. Most involved dogs (74.8 percent), with the majority of the bites to the upper extremities, followed by the face/head/neck.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2018, there were 23 fatal work injuries in Pittsburgh, with trips, falls, and slips accounting for over a quarter of them.
Accidents like these can turn your life upside down. You may face weeks to months of medical treatment, which could keep you out of work. You may lose income while facing increasing medical costs. You could even end up with disabilities that make it impossible for you to return to work.
Your family can suffer too, as they may rely on you for financial and/or personal support. You may have insurance, but find that the insurance company is uncooperative, or that other parties are denying their responsibilities in the accident.
At Chaffin Luhana, we understand how difficult and confusing it can be to try to navigate a personal injury on your own. We have experienced, compassionate attorneys that can help you recover the damages you are owed.
We can help guide you through submitting a claim, negotiating with your insurance company, and managing your medical bills. Our goal is always get you compensated as quickly as possible while balancing getting you the maximum compensation you deserve..
To learn more, schedule a free no-obligation consultation or call us now at 1-888-480-1123.
Our Pittsburgh office includes former state and federal prosecutors and clerks. Our team also includes court-appointed leaders in complex litigation, former large defense firm attorneys and a caring and compassionate social worker. No other injury law firm in Pittsburgh can boast of a team with such high-quality training and experience.
Our approach to injury cases sets us apart. We work on a contingency fee, meaning our clients pay nothing upfront and we do not get paid unless we win the case. We pride ourselves in providing high quality legal representation for our clients.
Convenient & Available 24/7
Our goal is to make the legal process as quick and easy as possible so our clients can focus on their families and recovery. Our Pittsburgh injury attorneys and staff are available 24/7 and able to meet clients in our offices, as well as at their home, the hospital or another convenient location. We can complete the initial paperwork by phone.
We start with a thorough investigation, followed by intensive and focused discovery of the defendants, a firm understanding of our clients’ injuries and painstaking work with focus groups to clearly explain the cases and injuries to our audiences.
Ready to Fight for You
Our firm, with its unique approach, has been known to take on injury cases that other attorneys have passed on and achieved extraordinary results. We have satisfied clients, for example, who came to us after they were told there was no case to pursue, and through our unique approach, we discovered facts and circumstances that resulted in a recovery of millions of dollars. This is the kind of value we endeavor to add to our clients’ cases.
despite our expertise and success, we remain true to our humble roots.
Pittsburgh Practice Areas
You’ve been hurt in an accident. What’s next?
That depends on what sort of accident caused your injury. We handle all of the following types of personal injury cases, and more.
Pittsburgh Car Accidents
In 2019, there were 23 fatal car accidents in Pittsburgh alone, causing 24 fatalities. These numbers were higher than those in 2018 when there were 15 fatal car accidents and 15 fatalities.
A car accident presents unique challenges when it comes to recovering damages. To have a valid auto accident claim, you must prove that someone else was liable for the accident. That may be the other driver, or there may be multiple at-fault parties, including the automobile manufacturer, a municipality responsible for the roads, or multiple drivers.
Your car accident attorney will thoroughly review police reports, state traffic laws, conditions at the site of the accident, information about the other driver (particularly if he or she was driving a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle), and more to help prove liability. In some cases, there may be multiple parties that share in liability.
Pittsburgh Truck Accidents
Because of their heavy weight, 18-wheelers can do extensive damage to passenger vehicles and pickup trucks.
The Pittsburgh truck accident attorneys at Chaffin Luhana LLP have the expertise you need on your side for these complex trucking cases. We understand that it’s not only the driver that needs to be investigated, but the company the driver was working for.
Was that company pushing the driver to work for too many hours? Or did the company properly examine that driver’s record before hiring them?
We will leave no part of the accident unexamined when fighting for your compensation.
Pittsburgh Motorcycle Accidents
In 2020, there were 3,491 motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania, with 284 of those involving a drunk driver. Fatalities occurred in 215 of those crashes, and injuries in 2,960. In total, motorcycle crashes increased 14.1 percent from 2019 with motorcycle fatal injury crashes increasing by 22.9 percent.
According to a study by the National Transportation Safety Board, 64 percent of crashes involving motorcycles were caused by errors or failures on the part of the other driver. That means that your accident likely wasn’t your fault, and gaining the help of a motorcycle accident attorney could help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Pittsburgh Premises Liability
If you are hurt while on someone else’s property, the owner of that property may be liable for your injuries. In most cases, premise liability cases are based on negligence—the owner was negligent in some way. You have to prove that negligence, however, to win compensation.
It’s also important to be aware of the laws in your state. Sometimes, the court will decide upon the owner’s liability based upon the status of the injured person. In other states, the law will place greater emphasis on the condition of the property where the accident occurred.
The Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana are familiar with the laws in Pittsburgh, PA. We also know what to look for in your case, as the subtle elements of premises liability can be confusing. When you were on the property, for instance, were you an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser? If you’re not sure, we can help.
Pittsburgh Dog Bites
According to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACD), from 2013 to 2020, the annual number of reported dog bites increased by 27 percent, from 1,777 bites in 2013 to 2,252 bites in 2020. The ACD notes that animal bites can be a source of infection and that antibiotics are often recommended.
Dog bites can cause serious injuries, particularly if the dog is infected with rabies or the victim was bitten severely or in multiple locations.
Dog owners are responsible for keeping their dogs under control. If they fail to do that, you can hold them liable for your dog bite, as long as you have the evidence needed to prove your case. Make sure you always see a doctor after a dog bite so you have a record of your injury, then contact your personal injury attorney for guidance on how to file a claim.
Pittsburgh Sexual Assault and Abuse
Though it is difficult to determine how many victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse there are in Pennsylvania—because many of these crimes go unreported—the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported there were 3,415 reported forcible rapes in Pennsylvania in 2007, including 912 in Philadelphia County and 257 in Allegheny County.
In 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury reported that more than 1,000 children had been abused by more than 300 Catholic priests over a period of 70 years. Hundreds of former Boy Scout leaders in Pennsylvania also appeared in the so-called “perversion files” as having sexually abused young children in the organization.
Many laws in Pennsylvania protect victims of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. Knowing your rights is an important step to recovering from the trauma. A personal injury attorney can help you not only hold the perpetrators responsible but to gain the compensation you deserve to rebuild your life.
Pittsburgh Elder Abuse
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging reported that in the fiscal year 2017-18, there were 8,408 substantiated reports of elder abuse, a significant increase over prior years. Of these, 28.9 percent were characterized as caregiver neglect, while 28 percent were stated as involving financial exploitation.
Our team of dedicated Pennsylvania elder abuse lawyers has decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured seniors. Contact us today for more information.
Pittsburgh Construction Accidents
In 2019, the construction industry reported the second-highest number of workplace fatalities in Pennsylvania, following the transportation industry. Construction trades suffered 21 of the work-related deaths within that group, while installation, maintenance, and repair occupations had 11.
Common reasons for construction-related injuries include falls, being struck by an object (such as falling objects, equipment, or machines), electrocutions, and getting caught in or between something (like being backed over or pinned).
Construction companies are responsible for making sure that their work areas are safe. There is legal help for workers injured on the job and for families who lose loved ones in construction accidents. In addition to a worker’s compensation benefit, you may also be eligible for death benefits, scarring and disfigurement benefits, or loss-of-earnings capacity benefits.
Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice
According to the Pennsylvania Courts, there were 10 jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits in 2020 in the state, with 3 of those being over $1 million. A medical malpractice lawsuit is generally filed by a plaintiff who believes that they received negligent or unskilled treatment by a healthcare professional.
Medical malpractice claims can be brought against physicians and other licensed healthcare providers like nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and more. To prove a claim, you must show that a professional duty was owed, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the injury was the proximate result of that breach.
There is no “cap” on the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania. If someone was negligent in your care—or a family member’s care—our attorneys will do everything we can to be sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Pittsburgh Workplace Accidents
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that fatal work injuries totaled 154 in 2019 for the state of Pennsylvania.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that their workers are safe. If an accident occurs because of a preventable hazard such as a slippery substance on the floor, an object falling from a shelf, or a hazardous piece of machinery, the employer may be accountable for the damages.
Typically, if you are injured on the job, you will have a workers’ compensation claim. But you may also be eligible to file a lawsuit against the person(s) or company responsible for your injuries. You should speak with an attorney who can help you get the full amount of compensation you are entitled to, which will likely be more than what you will get from a workers’ compensation claim.
Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation
Pennsylvania law requires that employers have workers’ compensation coverage. That means that if you are injured on the job, your employer’s coverage should pay for your medical expenses.
The system in Pennsylvania is a no-fault system, which means it doesn’t matter who is responsible for the injury, you are still eligible for compensation benefits. If you have a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company will likely approach you at some point about a settlement.
This is typically a lump sum you take in exchange for avoiding the hassle of a workers’ compensation hearing. Sometimes this is beneficial for you, but other times it may not be. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help advise you so you don’t make a mistake in these negotiations.
Pittsburgh Wrongful Death
If you lost a loved one to a serious accident, it can be extremely difficult to then try to manage all the accompanying expenses and losses. If someone was responsible for that accident, you should contact a wrongful death attorney right away.
Wrongful death is any death that occurs because of someone else’s negligent, wrongful, or illegally violent actions. Some examples may include a person who dies because of a drunk-driving accident (where the other driver was drunk), or when a person dies because of a negligent medical mistake.
Pennsylvania law provides ways for families and other beneficiaries to seek compensation for a loved one’s unnecessary death. If you win your case, it can help to cover the unexpected expenses you are now facing.
Our Pittsburgh Attorneys and Staff Work Hard To Get You The Money You Deserve
Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter.
You Can Expect Compassion & Empathy
Our law firm’s mission is Doing Good by Doing Right.™ Every Day. In Everything We Do. Our firm is dedicated to helping seriously injured people and their families become whole again.
From your initial call to us and through your recovery and beyond, the Chaffin Luhana team will be there to answer your questions. You’ll be treated with compassion and respect as if you were a member of our family and not “just another client.”
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plantiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries. He has been appointed by federal and state courts to various leadership positions in national plaintiffs’ litigation, including the Denture Cream Product Liability Litigation in the Southern District of Florida that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Booth has a particular insight into how the insurance industry and large companies view and handle personal injury cases. Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row. The Super Lawyers research staff chooses only outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement to be named to their exclusive list, recognizing no more than five percent of attorneys in New York.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A personal injury is any injury that occurs as a result of someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness and may entitle you to financial compensation.
Personal injuries may include:
- Physical injuries
- Injuries leading to physical disabilities
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Wrongful death
Personal injuries may result from:
- Intentional acts
- Defective products
You do need to be able to prove that the other party was at fault to recover damages. That’s where a personal injury attorney can help.
There are five basic requirements for a personal injury claim:
1. The other party owed you a duty of care.
You must be able to prove that the other party owed you a “duty of care,” which means that they had a legal obligation requiring them to adhere to a standard of reasonable care.
In other words, if your friend is a doctor and you ask her about your symptoms, you have no claim against her if her suggestions or diagnosis turns out to be wrong and you end up very ill in the hospital.
If a medical doctor, however, misdiagnoses your condition to the point that it causes you serious harm, you may have a personal injury claim against the doctor or the medical center that they work for.
2. The other party breached that duty of care.
Once you’ve established that the other party owed you a duty of care, you must prove that they breached that duty of care.
The doctor failed to properly diagnose you because he was distracted and negligent. Or the other driver crashed into you because they were drunk. Or you slipped and fell at the grocery store because management failed to clean up the mess or warn you about its existence.
A breach of the duty of care means the other party failed to exercise a level of care that would be expected for their position, business, or location.
3. You were injured and incurred damages as a direct result of the other party’s negligence.
You must be able to show that you were a) injured and b) incurred damages as a direct result of that injury.
If you fell at the grocery store, for example, but were not hurt, you are unlikely to have a successful personal injury claim. That’s because you incurred no damages. You didn’t have to go to the doctor and you didn’t have to pay money to recover from the incident.
If you fell, however, broke your wrist, and had to undergo treatment for that, you incurred damages in the form of pain and suffering and medical expenses. You may have also lost wages if you were unable to work while you recovered.
Keep in mind that you need to show your injury was the direct result of the other party’s negligence. If you broke your wrist before you left home, for instance, you wouldn’t be able to hold the grocery store owner liable.
4. The incident occurred within your state’s statute of limitations.
Each state gives you a certain amount of time to file your claim after the injury occurs. This is called the statute of limitations. If you wait past that time, your claim will likely be dismissed.
5. You don’t make any mistakes to harm your case.
It’s important during the process of a personal injury claim not to make any mistakes that would result in your claim being dismissed. If you fail to follow through on medical treatment, post pictures online of you performing activities you should not be able to perform with your injury, or otherwise give the insurance company, judge, or jury a reason to doubt your claim, you may lose your case.
Though you must incur damages to make a personal injury claim, don’t be too quick to decide that you weren’t hurt. It’s common for some injuries to take time to show up.
After an accident, your body is typically flooded with stress hormones like adrenaline. These hormones can hide pain signals, making you feel like you’re fine when you’re really not.
Serious injuries that can show up later include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Soft tissue injuries (strains, sprains, dislocations, tendon injuries)
- Neck and back pain
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal damage (to the liver, kidney, intestines, lungs, and heart)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
This is why it’s best to always see a doctor after an accident even if you feel fine. It could be that you weren’t hurt, in which case you wouldn’t have a claim. But it could also be that you were injured and you just didn’t know it right away.
How long a personal injury lawsuit takes from filing to completion depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. On the shorter side, these cases are resolved within eight months, but it is not unusual for personal injury cases to take 2.5 years or more for resolution.
Factors affecting the timeline include:
How long it takes you to recover from your injuries.
It’s only when medical treatment has been completed that it becomes clear the damages incurred. Before that, there’s no way to tell how much treatment will cost, how long the plaintiff will be out of work, or whether they’ll be able to return to work. All of these elements factor into the damages owed.
For those who may not be able to return to their pre-injury state, the point of “maximum medical improvement” serves as the endpoint, when it’s unlikely the injured person will experience further recovery.
How negotiations go with the insurance company.
Once treatment is completed, you file a claim with the insurance company for compensation. How long the insurance company takes to get back to you and how fair they are in their offer will affect the timeline. If your attorney needs to do extensive negotiations with the company, that will take longer.
In some cases, an agreement cannot be reached with the insurance company. At that point, the injured person may decide to file a lawsuit. That will extend the timeline.
Each state has laws about how long you have to file a personal injury case. This is called the “statute of limitations.” In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.
There are some exceptions. If you were involved in an accident and didn’t discover the injury until later, the statute of limitations begins on the date of injury discovery.
If you have a claim against a government entity, the statute of limitations may be shorter than two years. Claims against a state, county, or local government, for instance, must generally be noticed within six months of the accident date.
Other exceptions include:
- Non-emancipated minors: The statute of limitations for an injury to a minor does not begin to expire until their 18th
- Out-of-state defendants: If the defendant moved away from Pennsylvania for four or more months during the statutory period, the statute may be tolled for the period they were gone.
- Fraud: If a defendant used a false identity after causing an injury, the statute is tolled for as long as their true identity was concealed.
- Discovery rule: If negligence is unknown but later discovered, the statute of limitations may be extended for a reasonable period of time.
In general, there are two areas of compensation in a personal injury case:
- Compensatory:These compensate the plaintiff for the harm suffered. They are designed to make the plaintiff “whole” again.
- Punitive:These punish the defendant(s) for certain types of despicable behavior, in the hopes of discouraging that behavior from happening again.
Compensatory damages generally make up the majority of personal injury damages and are further divided into three categories:
- Special compensatory damages:These compensate the plaintiff for monetary expenses incurred because of the injury. These may include medical expenses, lost wages, and property loss.
- General compensatory damages:These compensate the plaintiff for non-monetary damages incurred because of the injury. These may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium (loss of companionship or inability to maintain a sexual relationship).
- Wrongful death damages:These compensate the family and loved ones for damages incurred because of the death of a family member or loved one. Common expenses that qualify for compensation include funeral and burial expenses, cost of pre-death medical care, loss of inheritance, loss of services and support, loss of consortium, and loss of financial contribution/support.
Before you were involved in an accident, you may have had a pre-existing condition. This means that you were already suffering from some sort of injury or illness before the accident occurred. This can restrict the amount of money an insurance company will pay out in a personal injury claim, or that a judge or jury may award in a lawsuit.
Examples of pre-existing conditions include injuries from an unrelated accident, injuries you suffered before that didn’t heal properly, congenital abnormalities, or existing illnesses or conditions like diabetes or sleep apnea.
It’s important to be upfront with your personal injury attorney about any preexisting conditions. If you fail to disclose these and they are discovered later, that can ruin your chances of winning your case.
You shouldn’t let a pre-existing condition discourage you from pursuing compensation for your injuries, however. It could be that the accident made your pre-existing condition worse, in which case you would be owed for damages.
Keep in mind that an insurance company or negligent party may try to use your pre-existing condition as an excuse not to pay you. This is where it helps to have a personal injury attorney on your side representing your case.
In Pennsylvania, the law says that if both parties are found to share blame for an accident, the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault.
Imagine you were partly at fault for a car accident in which you were seriously hurt. In your personal injury lawsuit, the jury decides that your total damages should total $100,000. But they also decide that you were 40 percent responsible for the accident. Under Pennsylvania law, your award would be 60 percent of the total, or $60,000.
If your case doesn’t go to trial and is settled with the insurance company, the company would follow the same process in determining your settlement award.
If, however, you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you will be unable to recover damages from another at-fault party.
The insurance company must wait until your treatment is completed to examine your claim and determine your damages.
Meanwhile, your medical bills are piling up. How do you pay them while you’re waiting for your claim to go through?
You have a few options:
- Your health insurance: This is usually the first option for paying any medical expenses you may have. When your settlement goes through, the insurance company will reimburse your health insurance company.
- Medicare or Medicaid: If you qualify for these programs, you may be able to use them to pay your medical bills while you’re waiting.
- Other types of coverage: If you carry certain types of insurance on your car insurance policy, these may help cover your costs. These include Personal Injury Protection (PIP), medical payments coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage.
- Negotiate with the hospital: In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with the hospital for a reduced rate or get on a payment plan while you wait for your case to be completed.
- Authorization and assignment: This is a legal agreement you make with your medical provider that says you will pay your medical expenses out of your settlement or award when you receive it.
- Pre-settlement loan: Pre-settlement loan providers offer funding for those they believe will have a successful resolution to their claim. These can help you manage your expenses in the meantime.
If you are unable to work after an accident, it may not take long for you to get behind on your finances. This can put you and your family in a difficult position.
While you wait for your settlement or lawsuit to finalize, your options include:
- Use money from your savings.
- Tap into other insurance coverage you may have, such as disability insurance or personal injury protection insurance.
- Seek a pre-settlement loan, offered by some providers to help you stay afloat until your claim is resolved.
If the accident occurred while you were at work, your damages will likely be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Employers in every state are required to provide a reasonably safe and healthy work environment. Workers’ compensation coverage is also mandatory for most employers under Pennsylvania law.
If you are injured on the job, report your injury to your employer right away, get medical treatment, and as soon as you can, file a claim. You may also want to contact a personal injury attorney to help you through the process to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
When deciding whether to hire a personal injury attorney, consider the following:
- Injured parties that hire accident attorneys often recover greater damages than unrepresented parties.
- Retaining an accident attorney will cost nothing upfront.
- Insurance companies hire teams of lawyers. An experienced accident attorney can place an injured party’s case on a level playing field.
- Insurance companies use formulas that reduce an injured party’s case to a handful of impersonal factors. A skilled and knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help overcome the objections that insurance companies use to argue for reduced settlement offers.
- A negligent party and his or her insurance company might argue that an injured party was more than 50% responsible for an accident. An accident attorney will counter this argument and place the blame for the accident squarely with the negligent party.
- Your damages and losses may be larger than you realize. An accident attorney will fight to recover compensation for the full amount of your losses and injuries.
- Your accident attorney will provide you with objective advice and guidance.
If you were in an accident with no or very minor injuries, you may be able to handle your claim just fine on your own. It never hurts to contact one of our attorneys for a free legal evaluation to be certain of when it makes sense to hire our firm.
But if any of the following apply, you’d be better off contacting a lawyer as soon as possible:
- Your injuries are serious
- You will need further medical care or surgery in the future
- You suffered from disabling or permanent injuries
- Your damages exceed policy limits
- You have pain and suffering damages
- Someone else is blaming you for the accident when it wasn’t your fault
- You want to recover the maximum amount of damages you can
- The insurance company denies your claim, offers you a low settlement, takes an unreasonably long time, or refuses to negotiate
- You lack the training and experience needed to negotiate with an insurance carrier
- The claim process is more complicated than you thought it would be
- You don’t have the time or energy to prepare medical records and police reports, speak with witnesses, negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and perform all the other tasks necessary for a successful claim
- Someone died because of this accident (wrongful death)
In most cases, it’s best to contact your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident occurs.
A personal injury attorney can help protect you against costly mistakes that may be made early on in the claim process. Many accident victims hurt their cases when they fail to document their injuries, sign papers before they should, or reveal too much information to claims adjusters or even on social media. Your attorney can help guide you through each step to give you the best odds of recovering the compensation you deserve.
The sooner you contact an attorney, the faster they can begin filing your claim, which can also help you get your compensation as soon as possible. They can also gather the evidence needed to strengthen your case.
Of course, you can contact a personal injury attorney at any time. But as it doesn’t cost you anything to consult with one, it’s wise to do that right away before you take any other steps.
In most personal injury cases, legal services are offered on a "contingency fee" basis. This means that the lawyer will charge you nothing upfront and will recover fees only when your settlement comes through or you win your case. If you lose your case, you owe the lawyer nothing.
Most contingency fee agreements give the lawyer a percentage of the settlement or award..
The contingency fees may cover both the lawyer’s fees and the “costs” of the case. Costs may include the following:
- Copying and mailing fees
- Filing fees
- Cost of obtaining reports and records
- Hiring investigators or experts
- Deposition transcription fees
- Case-related travel expenses
- Trial exhibits
You may also agree to pay these costs upfront rather than have them come out of your settlement or award.
When it comes to the law, a contingent fee is a fee charged for a lawyer's services that is payable only if the lawsuit is successful or results in a favorable result. The fee is "contingent upon" or dependent upon the favorable outcome of the case.
At Chaffin Luhana, we work on a contingency fee basis in almost all of our cases. Thus, in most instances, we only recover our fees and costs, if we’re able to recover for you. If we are not successful, you will owe us nothing.
If we are successful, we recover our attorneys’ fees. We also advance all of the costs on your case, which we try to keep at a minimum. Those costs are then recovered from your settlement.
If you were injured in an accident, follow these steps:
- Get medical attention right away.
- Call the police if it was a traffic accident or premises liability accident.
- Gather evidence and documentation. Take pictures of the accident if you can, and gather the contact information of any witnesses.
- Write down what happened as early as you can, while the accident is still fresh in your memory.
- Contact a personal injury attorney.
- Keep quiet about the accident. Share it only with your doctor and attorney, and your employer if the accident happened on the job.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
- Keep track of all your expenses related to the accident. Keep receipts and record your expenses.
A personal injury case usually includes the following steps:
- An initial meeting with the personal injury attorney. During this meeting, you'll go over the facts of your case and decide how to proceed.
- Case investigation. You and your attorney will work together to thoroughly investigate your case. This will include reviewing all related documents, photographs, witness interviews, video review, medical records, the other party’s involvement, and more.
- Medical treatment. You will continue with your medical treatment until you are fully recovered or have reached maximum medical improvement.
- Filing the claim. Your attorney will file the claim with the insurance company and negotiate with them to create an agreement that is fair for you.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you and your attorney can’t reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, or your damages exceed the policy limits, you may decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- The discovery phase. Each party investigates what the other side’s legal claims and defenses are. Both sides may request documents, interview experts and witnesses, and review all evidence available.
- Mediation and negotiation: The parties will meet to try to negotiate a settlement before trial. If they succeed, the case is settled and a check is sent to your attorney.
- If the parties can’t reach a settlement, the case will go to trial where a jury will determine the outcome.
The process is similar to the one outlined above. It begins with a consultation with your personal injury attorney. That attorney then files your personal injury claim.
Then both sides enter discovery, where they share evidence and examine all sides of the case. Attorneys for either side may file pretrial motions to compel the other side to provide evidence or to dismiss the case early if they feel it shouldn't move forward.
Finally, the parties enter settlement negotiations. If they reach an agreement, it usually means the defendant will pay compensation in return for the plaintiff releasing the defendant from liability. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, the case will go to trial.
Typically the trial involves two stages:
- The jury decides if the defendant is liable.
- If so, the jury determines the amount of damages.
Whether through a settlement or verdict, your personal injury attorney will collect and distribute the funds, including those owed to you.
A personal injury claim is a formal process in which the injured party seeks financial compensation from another party they feel is liable for their injuries.
This is the same as the personal injury process outlined above. First, you consult with an attorney. Then you complete your medical treatment.
Next, your attorney files a demand letter (or claim) with the at-fault party or their insurance company. This documentation lays out the injured person's argument as to why they deserve damages and details how much money they should be paid. The documentation is extensive and typically includes medical records, police reports, witness statements, a summary of the injuries sustained, the income lost because of time off work, other damages suffered like pain and suffering, and any other information needed to prove the injured person's case.
If the insurance company refuses to pay or reach a compromise, the case will proceed to the lawsuit stage.
As mentioned above, how long a personal injury lawsuit takes from filing to completion depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. On the shorter side, these cases are resolved within eight months, but it is not unusual for personal injury cases to take 2.5 years or more for resolution.
Factors affecting the timeline include how long it takes you to recover from your injuries, and how negotiations go with the insurance company or at-fault party.
When you reach a settlement agreement in your personal injury case, it usually involves a “release.” This means that the injured party releases the other party from liability in exchange for the settlement payment.
In other words, the injured party gives up their rights to pursue further legal action against the other party after accepting the settlement. The claim is closed. The release form will also probably contain language stating that the insurance agency or its client does not admit having any fault in the accident or your injuries.
It's important to talk to your attorney about this part of the process and make sure you feel comfortable with it before signing the release. You want to be sure that the settlement will cover not only your current damages but any future damages you may incur (from ongoing medical treatment or loss of earning capacity, for instance). Once you sign the release, you will not be able to seek additional damages from the other party for this same injury.
You should receive your money within 4-6 weeks. The following factors may create delays in that timeline:
- Processing the release. After you sign the release form, the insurance company will need to process it before issuing a settlement check.
- Processing the funds. Once your lawyer receives the check, they will need to deposit it into a special trust or escrow account. When the check clears, the attorney will distribute the funds toward unpaid debts, legal fees, and costs. Once these deductions are made, you will receive your settlement money.
Most personal injury cases are settled rather than going on to trial. This is better for all parties involved as it takes less time and resources to reach a settlement agreement than to go to court.
Only rarely does a case proceed to trial. This is more likely if:
- the insurance company refuses to agree to a payment that is fair for you
- the other party believes they are not at fault
- your injuries were extensive and you require a high settlement amount
- you suffered from someone else’s egregious contact and wish to seek justice against that party
Every case is different, and the best way to estimate what yours is worth is to meet with a personal injury attorney.
When estimating what your case may be worth, insurance companies typically add up your medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, future lost income, and estimated future medical expenses. Then that total is multiplied by a factor of one to five to determine general damages, such as the amount for pain and suffering. The more serious the injuries, the higher the multiplier.
There is no “average” personal injury payout since every accident, and every case is unique. The best thing to do is to talk to a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney as soon as possible. That way, you’ll have the information you need to make sound decisions about your future.
Legally, “pain and suffering” are non-economic losses related to personal injury. In liability-based states like Pennsylvania, if you are injured, you can sue for pain and suffering, which might include:
- Past and future physical and emotional suffering– Not only the physical pain and mental suffering that you have already endured, but also any directly related stress, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, and physical discomfort you are likely to experience in the future, whether short-term or permanently.
- Disfigurement– Scars and other permanent signs of damage caused by the accident or resulting surgery.
- Impairment of life activities – Inability to enjoy the same things as before the accident– from hobbies to companionship and family relationships.
Insurance companies and juries usually calculate damages for pain and suffering as follows:
- Multiply the actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a certain number between one and five depending on the severity of the injury. The resulting figure is the amount awarded for pain and suffering.
- Assign a certain amount—perhaps $100—to every day from the day of the accident until the day the plaintiff reached maximum recovery. The total is the pain and suffering award.
You can recover damages for loss of earnings if your injury prevented you from returning to work. As long as you can prove that your injuries prevented you from working, you will be able to recover lost earnings until your date of recovery.
If you lose your job due to the accident, you can also file a claim for lost wages as long as you can prove that your injuries led to the job loss.
If the accident caused injuries that interfere with your ability to work in the future, then yes, you can include future loss of earnings in your claim.
You may also be eligible for "loss of earning capacity" compensation if you can return to work, but cannot earn the same income as before the accident. You may have to reduce the number of hours you work, or you may utilize more sick days.
If you cannot perform the basic duties of your current job, you may have to change position or employer, resulting in a pay downgrade. All these types of losses could be included in your claim.
To prove future lost income as part of your case, you’ll need to show:
- Proof of taxable income before the accident.
- Proof of work-inhibiting injury.
Your personal injury attorney can help you gather the evidence you’ll need to prove your claim.
Sometimes an accident will result in injuries that are disfiguring. This means that the injuries alter your appearance deeply and persistently. Examples of disfigurement include:
- Burns and visible scarring
- Road rashes
- Facial fractures
Disfigurement can have a dramatic impact on your ability to work, perform the tasks of daily living, and enjoy life. To recover damages for disfigurement, you and your attorney will need to show that the other party caused the injuries resulting in your disfigurement.
In a successful personal injury claim, you can receive compensation for disfigurement to pay for your medical bills, make up for lost wages, and address pain and suffering.
If the accident was someone else’s fault, you are entitled to payment for damages done to your vehicle or personal property. Examples of personal property may include electronic devices, eyewear, sports equipment, or other items that you had on your person or in the car at the time of the accident.
Gross negligence is a claim an injured person may make against another party if that party acted with deliberate and reckless disregard for the safe and reasonable treatment of others.
Ordinary negligence may include running a stop sign resulting in a crash or failing to place a sign indicating a wet floor after mopping. Examples of gross negligence may include:
- Car accidents involving other drivers that are drunk or driving at excessively high speeds.
- Medical negligence cases in which healthcare providers give patients medications they're allergic to, amputate the wrong limb or neglect them for days, such as in a nursing home.
- A trucking company intentionally overloading a fleet of trucks to deliver an order on time.
Talk to your personal injury attorney to determine whether your case may involve gross negligence.
When you see your doctor for the first time after your accident, it’s important to be very honest about your health history. If you provide incorrect or incomplete information, it could hurt your case down the road.
Next, be sure to tell the doctor about all of your symptoms. Some may seem minor to you at the time, but they may develop into more serious injuries later on, so you’ll want to be sure your doctor knows about them and that they appear on your medical records.
Carefully follow all of your doctor's instructions and go to every appointment as you're treating your injuries. You don't want to give the other party or the insurance company a reason to suspect that you may not be as severely injured as you claim.
Finally, try not to talk to your doctor about your legal claim. Most doctors prefer not to get involved and want to focus purely on helping you to get better. Allow your personal injury attorney to handle any legal questions you may have.
Yes, it’s extremely important to document all of your expenses related to your accident. Have a place where you keep all your receipts, such as a file or other container, and be sure to record everything that you do that may have an impact on your case.
This way, if the insurance company has questions about a particular expense, you’ll easily be able to prove it with your documentation.
The simple answer is, “yes.”
As long as they don’t enter your home or business, insurance companies are allowed to conduct surveillance on you when investigating your claim. That doesn’t mean every insurance company will do this, but it’s best if you assume that they will and behave accordingly.
Keep in mind that insurance company surveillance may include the following activities:
- Videotaping you when you are outside of your home.
- Reviewing all of your social media accounts.
- Watching you from a parked car or on the street.
- Conducting interviews with coworkers and neighbors.
You can’t stop this surveillance, but you can take steps to protect yourself and ensure the success of your case:
- Act normally—don’t exaggerate your injuries, but don’t hide them either.
- Limit or entirely avoid social media. (Don't erase past posts, however.)
- Ask friends and family not to engage with you on social media.
- Decline requests for interviews, and ask coworkers and neighbors to do the same.
- Don’t engage with any insurance investigators. Refer them to your personal injury attorney.
- Detail descriptions of people and vehicles that you believe are following you, and inform your attorney.