What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Losing a loved one is devastating, and the resulting grief may leave you feeling sad, angry, and confused. Moreover, if the death resulted from negligence, misconduct, or another unlawful action, you may wonder whether you and the other survivors are entitled to compensation for your suffering.

To put it simply, you probably are.

In this post, Erie Injury discusses everything you need to know about a wrongful death lawsuit and the most common kinds of cases.

Understanding Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a civil claim against a person or company for causing the death of another due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. Typically, the claim is brought by the deceased’s survivors, such as the person handling the estate, a family member, or a loved one.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one and another person or company is legally at fault, you could be entitled to compensation for your loss. The at-fault party’s insurance company might want  to settle the case quickly, usually under the impression that they want to help you “put the situation behind you.” However, it’s most often an attempt to settle the case for less than what you’re actually owed.

Contact a lawyer with experience in wrongful death lawsuits before dealing with any insurance companies. Your lawyer will handle all communication and help ensure you get what you’re entitled to for your pain and suffering. They’ll also help build your claim with the proof necessary to win your case so you can focus on healing with your loved ones.

What Must Be Proven?

For you and your legal team to prove wrongful death, you first must demonstrate:

  • A death has occurred
  • The death was a result of preventable circumstances, including but not limited to negligent or reckless driving, use of a defective product, or a slip-and-fall accident
  • The deceased survivors have experienced pain and suffering as a result of the death, including financial loss and personal bereavement
  • An appointed person is acting as the representative of the estate

It’s critical that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible following a wrongful death to ensure your damages are returned to you in full. 

Wrongful Death Damages

A wrongful death lawsuit can help you and your loved ones recover more costs than funeral expenses and medical bills. In fact, Pennsylvania law might also entitle you to the following:

  • Estate administration expenses
  • Lost earnings and wages from a personal bereavement period
  • Lost future earning potential of the deceased
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a familial relationship and companionship, also known as consortium
  • Punitive damages

As with most lawsuits, very few wrongful death cases are settled in a trial before a jury. Instead, the lawyers from both parties will often negotiate a settlement to avoid the massive expense brought on by trials. A lawyer will typically negotiate better terms of the deal than you can on your own, so be sure to contact a lawyer to ensure you’re fully compensated.

Common Wrongful Death Cases

There are many instances in which a wrongful death lawsuit is applicable. Often, wrongful death cases can be brought for the same reasons as a personal injury case. There are, however, some wrongful death lawsuits that most people commonly file, including:

Medical Malpractice

If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, provides inadequate care, or otherwise behaves negligently and causes the person to die, survivors may be able to file a wrongful death suit. These situations are often hard to prove, so you’ll need to work with a lawyer to properly build your case. 

Automobile Accidents

If a person dies in an automobile accident and the at-fault party was found to be driving negligently or recklessly, a wrongful death suit can be filed. Negligent driving may be proven if the driver is found to have been failing to exercise due care, intoxicated behind the wheel, disobeying traffic laws, texting while driving, or otherwise failing to act carefully.

*Pro-Tip: Wrongful death lawsuits aren’t typically brought for cases of a fatal workplace injury. Instead, they’re most commonly handled by the workers’ compensation system. If a loved one has recently died due to an accident in the workplace, be sure to hire a lawyer with experience in workers’ compensation cases in your state to discuss your case.

Let Someone You Trust Help See You Through

The grieving process is a long, arduous journey. To make the journey easier, you’ll want a trusted, compassionate lawyer to help you through your grief and ensure you’re well taken care of on the other side.

At Erie Injury, we’ll work through your situation with delicacy and care, ensuring you feel comfortable and supported the whole way through. If you’d like to learn more about what compensation you may be entitled to after a wrongful death, contact our office today for a free consultation.

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you should hire a lawyer to help you understand your case and what you may be entitled to. Especially if the incident caused you to seek medical treatment, miss work, or experience mental and emotional hardships, you could be owed compensation for your damages.

However, hiring the right lawyer to help win your case can be challenging. With so many legal services and areas of practice available, it can be overwhelming to sift through the options to determine exactly what you need. But keep in mind, if you want to win your case, you need a lawyer.

At Erie Injury, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys can provide you with the representation you need to win a fair settlement. In this post, we’ll define a personal injury, the kinds of cases we cover, and how to find the best law team for your specific needs.

What is a Personal Injury?

A personal injury is any variety of harm done to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation. Personal injury law is governed under the umbrella of tort law, which protects those who have been injured by another person as a result of negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing.

Most personal injuries are based on “negligence,” which is the failure to act with a level of ordinary prudence that another person in a similar situation may have exercised.

In any of these instances, winning a case depends on proving harm or damages—whether physical or emotional—occurred due to the injurious action. Common examples of harm include:

  • Physical injury, such as trauma or broken bones
  • Lost Wages
  • Medical bills
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage

When harm is proved, the plaintiff is awarded a settlement relevant to the amount of damage caused. Compensable losses include medical bills, lost wages, mental and emotional distress, travel expenses, household assistance, and pain and suffering.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Though harm can result from any number of situations, personal injury claims typically fall under several distinct categories that ultimately dictate how your case will be handled. Erie Injury’s team of lawyers has experience handling cases related to:

  • ATV accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Product liability
  • Slip-and-fall accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Wrongful death

Because Erie Injury focuses on personal liability cases, we are well equipped to find the nuances in your case that other attorneys often miss. Diligence is critical when the other party has also hired legal representation, as they’ll be working hard to ensure their client isn’t responsible for your damages.

Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Case

It’s possible to settle a personal injury case on your own, but doing so is a disservice to yourself and those who love you. You may not know precisely what you and anyone who depends on you are entitled to by law, so you’ll want to connect with an attorney immediately following a personal injury. They’ll help you understand what kind of compensation you may be eligible for. When looking for a high-quality lawyer, you’ll want to follow a few best practices to ensure you’re getting quality legal representation.

Ask for Referrals and Read Reviews

Parsing through your injury and any resulting damages is a challenging, often emotional experience, so you’ll want to ensure you’re working with someone you trust explicitly. Ask friends and family for referrals to firms they’ve used in the past, and meet with lawyers that will offer you a free consultation before signing you on as a client.

Moreover, spend time reading reviews, paying particular attention to the types of cases a firm typically handles. You’ll want to select the firm with the most experience handling the case you’re facing. During your consultation, ask how many referrals the firm typically gets from other firms. Ideally, you’ll want to work with someone trusted enough in the field that other attorneys recommend their services.

Seek Someone with Experience

Law firms—and the lawyers who practice within them—tend to either generalize or focus in a particular area of law. While a general practitioner may help provide you with competent counsel, you’ll want to seek an attorney focusing on personal injuries to give yourself the best chance of winning your case.

Lawyers who focus are more likely to know the ins and outs of how the legal system applies to your specific situation. They can find the necessary nuances, details, and loopholes to win you the largest settlement or verdict possible. Don’t be shy about asking for a lawyer’s success rate.

Go with Your Gut

Personal injury cases can be long and arduous, so you’ll want to ensure you’re navigating the process with someone you trust. Choose a personal injury lawyer you feel comfortable with and who you genuinely believe has your best interest at heart. Avoid those who expect payments upfront, and instead, choose someone who won’t slap you with legal fees unless they win the coverage for you.

Consult with an Expert

Finding the right personal injury lawyer for your case can be difficult, but doing so is an essential step in winning your case. If you’re ready to consult with an experienced attorney, contact Erie Injury today. You can also visit our website to learn more about the cases we handle and what to expect throughout your claim process.

Understanding Your PA Workers’ Compensation Claim

On-the-job injuries and illnesses are common. In Pennsylvania in 2020, 147,918 reportable injuries occurred in the workplace. However, only 8,801 people filed workers’ compensation claims to get the settlements they deserve.

If you’ve been injured at work in Pennsylvania, you’re potentially entitled to monetary coverage for medical bills and lost wages paid by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. But you’ll need to hire a lawyer to ensure you’re treated fairly and in accordance with the law.

Properly navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be challenging, but armed with the proper knowledge and a trusted lawyer, you can win your case and receive the payouts you’re entitled to. In this post, Erie Injury defines workers’ compensation and outlines the claim process so you can stay informed and win your case.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation

In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation, often referred to as workers’ comp, is a government-mandated program that benefits workers who have fallen ill or suffered injuries on the job. State laws demand that employees provide coverage for medical care, disability, rehabilitation services, and death benefits for those who have been injured or killed at work. Payouts are directly related to your injury’s affect on one’s ability to work and the worker’s wage rate at the time of the incident.

With most private-sector workplaces, a workers’ compensation claim can be settled, but only if you’ve hired a lawyer to help win your case. Your legal team can help ensure all medical bills are accounted for, lost wages are correctly calculated, and you aren’t strapped with any unforeseen expenses after an incident.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim Process

Though the severity of your injuries might determine how you move through the workers’ compensation claim process, there are a few best practices you should aim to follow. If you’ve been injured on the job, you’ll want to:

  1. File an Incident Report

In Pennsylvania, injured workers must report the incident to their employers within 120 days. Failing to do so can result in a dismissal of your case, and you won’t be compensated for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result. Be sure to report all injuries to a supervisor as soon as you can safely do so.

  1. Get Medical Treatment

Though it might be tempting to power through a harmful accident at work, you’re much better off seeking proper medical care to have your injuries assessed. Without medical records, it’s nearly impossible to prove you sustained any damage at all. Even if you filed an internal report with a supervisor, you’ll want a medical professional to corroborate your story with appropriate documentation. Doing so will build the evidence you need for full compensation.

  1. Know Your Rights

When you file an internal report documenting the accident and the resulting injuries, your employer will likely send you to a specific doctor in your area that’s covered under the company’s insurance. While this is standard in the first 90 days after an injury, you have the right to see any doctor you wish after the initial 90-day period.

There are certain circumstances under which you might be eligible to choose your own doctor from the beginning. As such, you’ll want to connect with a lawyer to ensure you’re receiving the best treatment available and that your employer will pay for all resulting bills.

  1. Talk with a Lawyer Before You Settle

Particularly if your employer believes your injury to be minor, they may try to settle your case internally, and fast. Don’t let a workers’ compensation claims adjuster talk you into settling before you speak with a lawyer. They’ll try to minimize your injuries to reduce the payout they’re responsible for, and, as a result, you could wind up paying your medical expenses out-of-pocket and losing wages.

Depending on your age and the severity of your injuries, you might be considering filing for additional benefits such as Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement. If this applies to you, contact a lawyer immediately. The timeline in which you file can seriously impact whether or not you receive compensation. A lawyer can ensure your case isn’t dismissed and your employer can’t claim a “voluntary withdraw” from the workforce.

Let a Lawyer Help You Settle

Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated, and if you don’t follow appropriate practices and maintain timely action, you could be risking serious financial loss. At Erie Injury, we’re well suited to help you navigate your claim and win your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation, or browse our library of resources to learn more about the legal process.

Types of Vehicle Accidents and How to Handle Them

Every day, Pennsylvania drivers report an average of 286 car crashes, roughly 12 occurring every hour. Of these, 44,957 accidents every year result in bodily injury, and a staggering 58,458 collisions cause some amount of property damage.

If you’ve recently been involved in an auto accident, know that you’re not alone. Though dealing with a crash can seem daunting, having a trusted lawyer by your side helps ensure your damages are covered, and you’re not saddled with undue liability.

In this post, Erie Injury, a go-to law firm in Erie, Pennsylvania, outlines everything you need to know to win your crash case.

What is a Vehicle Accident?

Vehicle accidents are instances in which a motorized vehicle collides with another car, a pedestrian, or a piece of property. In Pennsylvania, an accident is considered a crash if any injury or fatality occurs or if one or more vehicles require towing from the scene.

From accidents involving uninsured drivers to collisions with tractor-trailers, a host of situation-specific occurrences will ultimately determine how a case is settled. With so many moving parts, you must hire a lawyer immediately following the accident to ensure you’re getting a fair settlement. At a minimum, you’ll want to contact a law office that offers a free consultation to better understand the specifics of your case.

Whether you were in a car, truck, or boating accident, it’s critical that you understand the basics of what to expect from your case.

Car Accidents

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, know that many variables can impact whether or not you have a potential case. However, you could be eligible for compensation if the resulting damages have caused you setbacks—lost wages, physical therapy, rental car fees, etc.

Car accidents happen in many ways, and the type of accident alone may be enough to determine who was at fault. Common types of car accidents that typically result in damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Rear-end collisions
  • Head-on collisions
  • Side-impact collisions
  • Sideswipe accidents
  • Single-vehicle accidents
  • Multi-vehicle accidents
  • Rollover accidents
  • Blindspot accidents
  • Low-speed accidents
  • Merging accidents

Car accidents are never simple. Even when a party admits fault, their insurance company is not likely to make things simple. Difficult insurance adjusters are even more prevalent when your case involves one of the following:

Drunk Driving

In Pennsylvania in 2020, drunk-driving was responsible for 6,565 crashes, 293 of which resulted in death. As entirely preventable and largely disastrous accidents, drunk driving crashes don’t follow typical insurance and legal policies when finding fault and settling cases.

Whether you have a full or limited tort auto insurance plan—the policy that determines whether all damages or only some are covered in an accident—all harm that comes from a drunk driving accident is potentially eligible for compensation.

Keep in mind: the at-fault driver’s insurance company will fight hard not to pay the full amount you’re eligible for. Therefore, you’ll want to hire a lawyer to ensure your settlement is fair.

Hit-and-Run or Uninsured Drivers

A hit-and-run accident or a collision with an uninsured driver might feel like a lost cause. However, if you immediately hire a lawyer and file a police report, you could be eligible for compensation from your own insurance company. A lawyer can help you dissect your insurance policy to determine if you have uninsured motorist benefits. If you do, they’ll ensure you can cash in at the fullest amount possible.

Underinsured Drivers

If you’re in an accident with an insured driver, but their policy doesn’t cover the extent of your damages, there could be more compensation available to you. Contact a lawyer right away so they can perform asset and other insurance checks on the at-fault driver. Additionally, you could be eligible for payouts from your own insurance company if you have underinsured motorist coverage. 

Pedestrians and Bicycles

As a pedestrian or cyclist, you’re eligible for compensation if you’re hit by a car. Regardless of what kind of insurance you carry, you aren’t bound by a limited tort policy. And because the payouts from these cases can be substantial, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will work hard to lessen the payout. Contact a lawyer immediately following an accident to ensure you get your full settlement.

Truck Accidents

Due to their massive size, accidents involving tractor-trailers are devasting, often even fatal. The long driving hours, varying road conditions, and immensely heavy loads can seriously impact how the case is settled.

Often, truck accidents rely heavily on witness accounts and circumstantial evidence. Contact a lawyer immediately to ensure your side of the story is told accurately. 

Boat Accidents

Boating accidents are often serious, so hiring a lawyer will be crucial in ensuring you and your loved ones are protected from further harm. Moreover, open water is still subject to rules and regulations, so a lawyer can help you understand precisely when the fault occurred.

Because boat accidents often leave little evidence, witnesses are crucial to a fair settlement. Your lawyer can help you obtain critical information from those at the scene to ensure your case is settled fairly.

Let a Lawyer Win Your Case

No matter what type of vehicle accident you’re in, having a lawyer will help you win your case. You can rest easy knowing your case is being handled so you can focus on healing yourself and your loved ones.

If you have questions about a recent accident, contact our office today for a free consultation. You can also visit our blog for more information about car accident and personal injury cases.

Everything You Need to Know About Product Liability

From cancer-causing tobacco products to vehicular gas tank explosions, faulty products have the potential to cause severe damage. In fact, in 2019, the median settlement amount for product liability cases was nearly $7.5 million.

If you’ve recently suffered an injury due to a defective product, you’re probably wondering what kind of compensation you may be entitled to. Your first step should be to ensure your physical health is taken care of, so be sure to see a medical professional to properly assess, care for, and document your injuries. You’ll then want to contact a product liability lawyer to be sure your case is settled fairly.

Erie Injury has a team of lawyers ready to help you take on your product liability case. In this post, we’ll define product liability, look at the various kinds of claims, and highlight what you can expect throughout the process.

What is Product Liability?

Product liability is the legal liability a manufacturer, distributor, or anyone else in the product supply chain incurs for producing and/or selling a faulty product. Possible actors include designers, suppliers and manufacturers of parts, individuals and businesses involved in product assembly, wholesalers, and retail owners.

The consequences of delivering unsafe products can be severe, putting consumers at risk of undue harm. Though damages vary on a case-by-case basis, there are a few common injuries that are often the result of a defective product, including:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Electrocution
  • Burns
  • Poisoning
  • Lacerations

If you’ve suffered any of these or other injuries and believe it resulted from a damaged or unsafe product, contact a product liability lawyer immediately. You may have been using a product that was designed, manufactured, or labeled incorrectly and could be eligible for compensation.

Design Defect Claim

A design defect claim alleges that a product was designed in a way that made it unsafe for use or otherwise ineffective. Typically, a design defect means that the product is considered dangerous when it cannot be used as intended without causing harm.

Common examples of design defects include:

  • Toys made for children with small parts that could easily be detached and swallowed
  • Vehicles with faulty airbags, brakes, or gas tanks
  • Electrical products that electrocute the user

Of course, not all faulty products are subject to product liability laws. User errors can occur, which is why product liability law demands the plaintiff—the party filing the lawsuit—prove the product malfunctioned as a result of a design flaw. For this reason, you’ll want to work with a lawyer to be sure your case is handled appropriately. 

Manufacturing Defect Claim

Unlike design defects, manufacturing defect claims assert that improper manufacturing of a product caused harm. These types of lawsuits usually happen when there are errors in production or quality control.

Manufacturing defects may occur when:

  • The wrong material was used during the product construction phase
  • Broken pieces and parts were built into the product
  • Components and parts were unintentionally left out of the manufacturing process

A manufacturing defect claim is typically a straightforward case. Reason being, the cause of the harm can generally be traced or seen. However, if the product comes to further damage due to the initial flaw, it may be harder to prove. Contact a lawyer to help you properly document the issue and resulting damages.

Warning or Labeling Defect Claim

Products that are designed and manufactured correctly but do not adequately warn users about the potential dangers of use could be subject to labeling defect claims. In fact, in 2002, a major tobacco company was sued for $28 billion after a woman who used their products was diagnosed with lung cancer. Because the company didn’t label its products with a carcinogens warning, the suit was settled in favor of the claimant.

Keep in mind, manufacturers should be doing the necessary research to ensure their products are not unsafe for consumers to use. That said, they cannot claim that they “didn’t know” their product might cause harm and therefore didn’t label it as such. Before reporting a labeling defect, be sure to contact a lawyer so the manufacturer can’t talk you out of your claim.

File a Defective Product Report

When you contact a manufacturer or seller about a defective product, they’ll likely ask you to immediately return the product to them so they may further investigate. Though it sounds like a reasonable ask, it’s probably a tactic to get the evidence out of your hands and into theirs.

If you’ve suffered an injury or other damages due to a defective product, contact a lawyer immediately. They’ll liaise between you and the manufacturer or retailer to settle your case fairly.

Ensure Your Product Liability Case is Settled with You in Mind

Product liability cases can be challenging to navigate. Depending on the type of product and claim, you might be responsible for showing evidence of the defect. Contact a product liability lawyer today to ensure your case is handled correctly, and your damages are covered in full.

What is Full and Limited Tort?

When you’re shopping around for a car insurance policy that fits your lifestyle and your budget, there are a lot of different coverage options that can impact your decision-making. Though many of the available options may seem like unnecessary costs upfront, your choices can have serious consequences if you get into an auto accident down the line.

Tort policies can seem complex initially, but understanding how they’re used and what they cover is essential for ensuring you’re appropriately compensated in the event of a car accident. In this post, Erie Injury lays out everything you need to know about full and limited tort policies.

Understanding Tort Law and Coverages

Before you can decide what type of car insurance policy is best for you, it’s critical to understand the basics of tort law. Tort law is the legislation that protects and compensates people who have been injured by an act of negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. It also covers those who have been harmed by unsafe or defective products.

A tort, then, is an act or omission that causes injury or harm to another person or persons in a way that suggests some amount of liability. Typically, torts are separated into three distinct categories:

  1. Intentional torts: suggests purposeful wrongdoing that causes harm or injury to a person or their property
  2. Negligent torts: harm caused by a failure to follow rules and procedures that have been put in place to prevent or reduce instances of injury
  3. Strict liability torts: direct harm caused by the use of a defective or malfunctioning product

Tort insurance is a popular system of auto coverage and spans 38 states, including Pennsylvania. Within this system, at-fault drivers are responsible for paying damages and medical costs for the other party via their liability coverage. Depending on the policy, damages covered under tort law can include:

  • Vehicle damage
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Potential future costs

Tort policies run counter to the no-fault system, which requires drivers to purchase insurance for themselves and any passengers in the car. Additionally, drivers who carry no-fault policies must hold liability coverage for any damages done to other drivers, their passengers, or vehicles.

What is Full Tort Coverage?

In Pennsylvania, full tort coverage means that, if injured in an accident, you can sue the at-fault driver for all damages, including non-monetary ones. Typically, full tort comes with the additional option to sue for pain and suffering.

Of course, extended coverage means a slightly higher monthly premium, but not by much. With a six-month policy, full tort ranges from an additional $80 – $115 spread over the course of that period. That said, the monthly difference in cost is actually just a few dollars.

Though it can seem enticing to forgo full tort coverage in favor of a lower monthly premium, you could be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars in the case of a serious car accident.

How is ‘Pain and Suffering’ Calculated?

Pain and suffering—the legal term for physical and emotional stress caused by an injury—is calculated by a lawyer after an accident to ensure fair compensation. There are two main ways to calculate pain and suffering; the multiple method and the per diem method.

  • Multiple method: After all medical bills are finalized, the total dollar amount is multiplied by a factor of 1.5-5. This range leaves space to account for the nuances of the accident, including the degree to which the other party was at fault, severity of injuries, and more.
  • Per diem method: This kind of calculation assigns a dollar amount to each day a person is injured and multiples that amount by the number of days the injuries persist.

In these instances, having a lawyer work through your case is essential for ensuring fair coverage. Insurance companies will work hard to deny pain and suffering compensation, so having a seasoned professional by your side can help make sure you don’t fall victim to an unfair payout.

What is Limited Tort Coverage?

Limited tort coverage generally does not allow an injured person to sue for pain and suffering. Instead, drivers can only sue for pain and suffering if the sustained injuries or harm were severe. Some examples of when limited tort would likely cover pain and suffering include:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Serious impairment of bodily function(s)

Essentially, limited tort only covers money lost as a direct result of the accident. In this situation, both parties’ legal teams and insurance companies diligently track funds to come up with the exact repayment plan. Settlements typically result in an exchange of exact dollar amounts relative to any medical bills or vehicle damages.

Which Option is Best for Me?

Though it may be tempting to opt for limited tort coverage and save yourself a few dollars on your monthly auto insurance premium, you could be losing out on tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) in the long run.

Full tort coverage is the only way to ensure you are compensated at the highest possible amount in the event of a car accident. Particularly, if you care for any dependents, are the primary source of income in your household, or undergo serious emotional damages as a result of an accident, full tort coverage can ensure that you are adequately paid to relieve some of the undue burdens.

Consult a Tort Lawyer Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact a lawyer immediately to better understand your policy coverage and what options are available to you. Hiring a trusted professional will not only give you the peace of mind that the compensation you’ll receive is fair, but it will give you the freedom to focus on healing while we handle your case.

I Slipped and Fell at a Store. What’s My Next Step?

If you slipped and fell at a store, you may be eligible for monetary compensation. However, in order to get it, you’ll need to prove that the business’s conditions caused your injuries. This process is challenging, and if you don’t navigate it optimally, you could be putting your emotional, financial, and physical well-being at risk.

To ensure you get compensated for your injuries, it’s essential that you hire an attorney who has extensive experience with slip and fall cases. If you’re in need of guidance after an accident, Erie Injury is here to outline the next steps in the process.

What is a Slip and Fall Accident?

A slip and fall accident is a type of personal injury that occurs on another person or entity’s property. In this situation, a victim, through no fault of their own, slips or trips and, as a result, falls.

These kinds of accidents account for over one million emergency room visits each year in the US. Additionally, slip and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and occupational injury for those aged 55 and over.

When seeking compensation, slip and fall cases are some of the most challenging types of personal injury cases to win. Liability is not automatic, and for a person or a business to be found liable for your injuries, a judge or jury needs to find them negligent. The right lawyer will work expeditiously to speak to witnesses, preserve evidence, and obtain security camera footage to build a strong case.

Seek Medical Care Immediately

Whether you can clearly see your injuries or they’re more internal, it’s critical that you seek medical care immediately. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve been hurt, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. During a traumatic accident, your body releases adrenaline/epinephrine that could temporarily mask your pain. Furthermore, documentation from a doctor will be helpful in later steps.

Be diligent about keeping track of your doctor’s bills or other accident-related expenses, including any absences from work. An attorney will use these receipts and work documentation when determining a proper settlement amount.

Survey the Scene

If you or someone you’re with is safely able to examine your surroundings and identify what caused you to fall, do it and document it with a photo while you’re still at the scene. Be on the lookout for:

  • Broken stairs or handrails
  • Bunched up carpeting
  • Icy parking lots and sidewalks
  • Spills on the floor
  • Uneven flooring or pavement
  • Wet floors

Depending on the severity of your injuries, documenting the issue may not be an option. If you were unable to photograph what happened, write down as much as you can as soon as you’re safe and able—the more detailed, the better.

Contact an Attorney

After a slip and fall accident, the property owner’s insurance company will attempt to contact you. We strongly encourage you to not talk to the insurance adjuster without an attorney. Insurance companies will try to use your statement to deny liability for your fall.

Ultimately, the sooner your hire an attorney, the faster you can win your case. Be sure to find one who has ample experience handling slip and fall cases.

Request Security Camera Footage

It might amaze you how easily you can acquire security footage from a scene. And, the number of security cameras is only increasing. In fact, from 2015 to 2018, the number of installed surveillance cameras grew nearly 50 percent, from 47 to 70 million, in the United States.

Video can provide supporting evidence that there were dangerous conditions that the store owner should have known about. Moral of the story: Even if you don’t think the store has security cameras, ask anyways. If there’s footage available, having it could be the difference between winning and losing your case.

Find Witnesses

If you fell in the store, it’s likely that somebody saw the incident. If there were people around, get their contact information. If they allow it, you might also want to get a quick statement at the scene rather than trying to track them down again later as witness accounts can be vital to the process of verifying the incident. If you’ve hired an attorney, they’ll likely want to get a recorded or written statement from each person who saw the accident.

File an Official Incident Report

A paper trail is always helpful when it comes to a slip and fall accident. If the store has a system to do so, file a complaint or send a letter with the help of an attorney. In this communication, you should provide proof of negligence on the store’s part. You may want to include photos of the environment where you slipped and fell.

A claims adjuster will call you shortly after you file this claim. When they do, do not provide a statement upon request. Instead, contact your lawyer immediately, and they’ll contact the insurance company on your behalf.

Get Back on Your Feet

Slip and fall accidents can be scary, and it’s hard to know what to do when one occurs. After seeking medical attention, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience working on slip and falls to help ensure your injuries are covered. Contact an attorney at Erie Injury today if you’ve recently had a slip and fall accident and need help getting compensated for your injuries.

What Types of Personal Injuries Does Your Firm Handle?

Law firms come in all sizes, practice types, and legal focuses. To ensure more effective representation, the attorneys at Bernard Stuczynski Barnett & Larger (Erie Injury) focus on personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability cases.

From car accidents to product liability claims, we’re your go-to source when someone or something hurt you and you need representation. If you or a family member has suffered a personal injury, read on to learn more about Erie Injury’s services, the benefits of working with focused firm, and our core values.

About Bernard Stuczynski Barnett & Larger (ErieInjury.com)

Since 1985, we’ve been helping victims in Northwestern Pennsylvania seek compensation for their injuries. Our dedication to our clients has allowed our firm to solidify its place as a regional leader.

To ensure the best service and highest probability of recovery for our clients, we focus on only three case types: personal injuries, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability. The reason we chose these three areas is because injuries often overlap more than one of those case types. Rather than send clients to multiple attorneys, Erie Injury can handle it all in-house. While there are so many ways injuries may occur, here are some of the most frequent types of cases we work on:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

If it transports people or goods and hurts you or a loved one in the process, chances are good this case will fall under a motor vehicle/auto accident. At Erie Injury, we find compensation for people recovering from injuries caused by vehicles:

2.2 million people a year suffer from injuries related to car accidents. In Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 100,000 crashes a year. If you suspect another driver’s negligence caused your injuries, we strongly urge you to speak with a lawyer before speaking with a claims adjuster. Beyond typical vehicle collisions, Erie Injury frequently works on:

  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Hit-and-runs
  • Uninsured & underinsured driver cases
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents

Wrongful Death

There are few, if any, events in life more difficult than losing a loved one. When a family member dies because of a person or company’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, this situation is called a wrongful death. In the case of wrongful death, our attorneys will help your family get the compensation to which you are entitled under Pennsylvania law, which may include:

– Estate administration expenses
– Funeral expenses
– Loss of the family relationship
– Lost earnings and wages
– Lost future earning capacity
– Medical bills
– Pain and suffering
– Punitive damages

Please know that Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations typically requires you to file a wrongful death suit within two years of a family member’s death. Therefore, it’s essential to act quickly and hire an attorney who focuses on wrongful death cases.

Work-Related Accidents

If you’re injured at work in Pennsylvania, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier should pay for your medical bills and lost wages. Unfortunately, hiring a lawyer is often necessary to make sure you are compensated fairly. While it’s challenging to think about what to do after you’ve been injured, it’s vital that you:

  • Report your work injury to your supervisor
  • File an incident report within 120 days
  • Receive medical treatment
  • Document everything
  • Find out how much your weekly benefits will be
  • Find an attorney

Even if you’re currently receiving workman’s comp, it’s possible you’re being underpaid. If you’ve been injured on the job and you can’t go back, make sure you find representation.

Product Liability

Every year, millions of people are injured by dangerous and defective products. Whether these injuries occur at home or work, it’s critical to contact an experienced injury attorney. For more than 30 years, the experts at Erie Injury have been handling defective product litigation cases. From crushed limbs to severe burns, we’ve dealt with a wide range of cases.

Product liability cases can be highly complex. Moreover, manufacturers often spend exorbitant amounts of money paying their lawyers to prevent being held liable for any damages. For these reasons, it’s critical to find a seasoned attorney who fights for you.

Slip and Falls

Whether ice and snow or slippery floors caused you harm, Erie Injury is well-equipped to handle slip-and-fall accidents. Much like in an auto accident, it’s critical that you contact a lawyer before you speak to an insurance adjuster. Insurance companies will try to minimize payouts as much as possible and could use your statements against you.

In conjunction with slip-and-falls, we also handle trip-and-falls. These cases typically occur when someone trips and falls because of uneven sidewalks, broken pavement, or dangerous stairs.

To create a comprehensive case, we’ll review local and uniform building codes, hire engineers, and speak with witnesses who might have previously reported the dangerous condition to the owners of the premises.

Dog Bites

Yes, they’re cute, but they can also be a source of serious injury. Dog bites often result in lacerations that require stitches and could leave permanent scarring. Yet, many people don’t realize that you can make a claim against the dog owner via their Homeowner’s Insurance to cover your injuries.

However, in Pennsylvania, liability for dog bites is not guaranteed. You need to prove negligence. Therefore, it’s helpful to hire an attorney who focuses in these types of injuries.

Attorneys with Core Values

As industry, technology, and law become increasingly complex, the axiom “a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none” continues to ring true. With a precise focus, we’re optimized to provide our clients with unrivaled guidance and better outcomes.

We serve people of all races, genders, sexual identities, religious backgrounds, body types, and socioeconomic statuses. However, we do not help drunk drivers. Furthermore, we do not represent insurance companies. By focusing our services and following our core beliefs, we ensure the best possible case for clients.

At Erie Injury, we strive to help people who can’t afford to hire an attorney. To make good on this goal, our attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning we only charge a fee if we obtain a settlement or money judgment for our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you earn a recovery for your injury, please reach out today.

6 Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident

Slip and fall accidents aren’t something you plan for, so it’s hard to know what to do next when one happens. Though the force of the initial impact can be difficult to shake, it’s important to remember that your physical, emotional, and financial well-being might be at stake, and you’ll want to act accordingly. In this post, Erie Injury, Erie, Pennsylvania’s slip and fall personal injury attorneys, explain everything you need to know after a fall to ensure you’re compensated fairly.

What is a Slip and Fall Accident?

Slip and fall accidents are a type of personal injury that occurs on another person or entity’s property in which a person slips or trips and, as a result, falls. Common causes of slip and falls include:

  • Wet floors
  • Broken stairs or handrails
  • Spills on the floor
  • Icy parking lots and sidewalks

In the United States, slip and falls account for over one million emergency room visits each year. What’s more, slip and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and the leading cause of occupational injury for those aged 55 and over.

After a slip and fall accident, the property owner’s insurance company will quickly attempt to contact you in hopes of getting a recorded statement. Do not talk to the insurance adjuster without an attorney. Insurance companies will try to use your statement to deny liability for your fall. Instead, follow these steps immediately after the incident, and contact a lawyer as soon as you’re able.

Seek Medical Attention

After a fall, your health and safety should be your number one priority. Even if you don’t seem to be hurt, a thorough check-up with a doctor will ensure no minor bumps and bruises turn into a more severe injury down the line. Plus, your physician will document any resulting ailments, which will provide the necessary proof of injury your lawyer will need during the settlement process.

Inspect the Scene and Determine Why You Fell

When you’re able and safe, take a look around the scene to determine what exactly caused you to fall. Pay close attention to environmental conditions such as ice or snow build-up, obstacles left by a landlord or an employee of the premise, loose floorboards, uneven carpet, or any other potentially dangerous condition that could have caused you to fall. Once you’ve identified the area of concern, photograph it thoroughly.

If possible, try to determine how long the dangerous condition was present on the property. The longer the circumstance persisted, the more likely your fall resulted from negligent ownership.

Identify Witnesses

Witnesses can be a crucial component for verifying events. Look for any bystanders in the vicinity who may have seen you fall, and, at minimum, get their contact information. However, it’s important to remember that your fall isn’t as important to the witness as it is to you. Therefore, if the witness is willing, it can be helpful for your attorney to get a recorded or written statement shortly thereafter. The reason being, they’re more likely to remember essential details just after the fall happened, and it’ll save you the hassle of trying to track them down as the case progresses.

Document the Accident

Proper documentation provides the proof you need to show negligence on the property owner’s part, so you must take the time to record as much of the incident as possible.

Take photos of what caused you to fall and be sure to take a few pictures of your resulting injuries. Additionally, try to secure any available video footage from security cameras in or around the property.

Keep a written record for your own purposes, including the date, time, and location of the fall. Note what you were doing right before the fall happened, and keep track of any witnesses or other people you spoke with when the incident occurred. Taking these steps as you go will ensure you don’t leave out any critical details that could help bolster your settlement or otherwise solidify your case.

Of course, keep track of any doctor’s bills or other accident-related expenses, including absence from work. Your attorney will use all of this information when determining a proper settlement amount.

*Bonus Tip: Stay off social media. While it might feel like an instinct to appeal to your networks for a kind ear and supportive advice, any statement you make on the internet can be used against you later. One comment about feeling alright or “just tripping” could result in a negative outcome for your case.

Make an Official Report

Before you leave the scene, file an official report with the property owner or manager. It’s ok to be vague in the initial filing, but you’ll want to include enough detail that indicates the possible severity of your injuries without adding any embellishments.

Filing a report before you leave the premises shows that you take the accident seriously. Of course, this report will likely prompt the property owner to enter a claim with their insurance company. A claims adjuster will then call you requesting a statement. It’s critical that you don’t answer this phone call. Instead, contact a lawyer immediately, and they’ll deal directly with the insurance company for you.

Find an Attorney

It’s vital to hire a personal injury lawyer expeditiously, as evidence needs to be preserved, and the property owner’s insurance company needs to be put on notice.

In Pennsylvania, property owners, including commercial property, apartments, and single-family homes, are required to maintain a safe environment for residents and visitors. When a slip and fall happens, you must prove the other party was negligent for your damages to be covered.

However, know that insurance companies and property owners will work hard to make sure they’re not held accountable for the accident. Hiring an attorney who specializes in slip and fall accidents is essential as the court is less likely to settle in your favor when a lawyer isn’t present.

Get the Help You Need

Slip and falls are scary, and it’s hard to know exactly what to do when they occur. After seeking medical attention, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer who focuses on slip and falls to help ensure your injuries are covered. If you’ve recently had a slip and fall accident and need help understanding your rights, contact an attorney at Erie Injury today.

4 Reasons You Should Never Talk to a Claims Adjuster After an Auto Accident

If you’ve been in an auto accident, you’re likely wading through the waters of uncertainty, worry, and doubt. And while it’s tempting to think of your car insurance as your lifeboat, the reality can be quite different. Before you talk to a claims adjuster, make you have a lawyer by your side. By doing so, you’ll save time, money, and a whole lot of heartache.

In this post, the experts at Erie Injury, Erie’s premier car accident lawyers, lay out everything you need to know about claims adjusters, why you should have a lawyer before you talk to one. Additionally, we’ve included a few tips to ensure the best possible outcome of your accident.

What is a Claims Adjuster?

Claims adjusters are employees of insurance companies tasked with investigating accidents, determining fault, and settling claims. Whether you got into a minor fender bender or someone totaled your car, a claims adjuster will likely become involved. However, it’s essential to realize that claims adjusters are usually trying to settle in favor of the insurance company for which they work.

Sometimes referred to as claims handlers, claims specialists, or claims analysts, these adjusters try to understand who and what was involved and who may be responsible for damages incurred. However, because claims adjusters work for insurance companies, they are typically trained to find ways of minimizing payouts.

After an accident, claims adjusters will assess vehicle damage, take photos of their findings, interview passengers and witnesses, and gather police records and hospital reports. To calculate a settlement amount, they’ll then consider any cost incurred from medical expenses, time off work, vehicle damage, and personal pain and suffering.

Of course, this process is laden with pitfalls. Be sure your case is settled fairly and that a claims adjuster cannot use the following tactics against you by hiring a lawyer before beginning these conversations. Here’s why:

  1. They’ll Try to Find Holes in Your Story

After you file a claim with an insurance company, the claims adjuster assigned to the case will likely call you, and fast. But it’s not in your best interest to answer that call right away. Instead, call a lawyer first and have them contact the insurance company.

Car accidents are stressful, and the added pressure of answering an adjuster’s questions thoroughly and honestly can be a lot to handle. However, if your first point of contact is a lawyer, you’ll have time to better understand your own losses, ensure your physical health and safety, and think talk through the resulting damages.

  1. They’ll Try to Record Your Statement

Though sticking to your story is an essential step in ensuring your claim is processed fairly, a recorded statement could rope you into damaging inconsistency down the road. If you make the mistake of speaking to an adjuster personally, they’ll ask if they can record your initial statement, and most people are inclined to agree. A lawyer, however, would handle that initial call and determine if it is appropriate and advantageous to have the claims adjuster record it. Either way, your lawyer may choose to deliver an agreed-upon statement that is not damaging to you and can be altered later if more details are recalled.

*Bonus Tip: Share Photos and Videos of the Accident

Your first step after an accident should be to ensure that you and the others involved are safe from further harm and are uninjured. If anyone has been hurt, seek medical attention immediately. Afterward, use your mobile phone to snap a few pictures of the incident. If you don’t have your phone with you, or if it was damaged in the accident, consider asking a witness to take photos for you.

Of course, photos of the vehicle and resulting damages can be essential, but don’t forget to document the entirety of the scene. Look for any indicators of normal traffic flow (stop signs, traffic lights, merge points, etc.) that may have been violated and caused the accident to happen. Be sure to check for any traffic cameras or, if in a parking lot, building cameras that the insurance companies might use to pull footage of the accident.

When you feel confident that everything has been photographed or videoed, send the footage to your lawyer. They’ll determine which images might benefit your case and which could be potentially damaging.

  1. They’ll  Downplay Your Injuries or Damages

Claims adjusters will often approach you in a friendly manner, making you feel a false sense of security. What can seem like a casual conversation with a helpful person might actually be a chance to get you to say your damages or injuries weren’t that serious. This kind of minor misstep can minimize payouts for damages or even result in a complete rejection of your claim.

Similarly, a claims adjuster will try to entice you to share irrelevant information about past injuries or damages to your vehicle. Doing so could give them an opening to disregard large portions of your case on the grounds of preexisting conditions or past auto accidents. However, if your lawyer has all relevant information and documentation, they’ll know what to share with the insurance company and what could damage your case.

  1. They’ll Offer You an Unfair Settlement

As an adjuster prepares to settle your claim, they’ll make an offer based on the information gathered throughout the process. Your lawyer will have an idea of how much the accident has cost you and will be able to ensure the settlement offer covers your losses accordingly.

Keep in mind, you’re also eligible for personal loss and suffering compensation, and having an attorney help you negotiate that amount is crucial for a fair settlement. A lawyer will conduct an investigation separate from the claims adjuster’s and work with (or against, if necessary) the insurance company to reach maximum compensation for you.

*Bonus Tip: Document Your Losses Diligently

If you have to pay for any injuries or damages out of pocket upfront, be sure to keep receipts and reports that specify the exact reasoning for the spending. For example, if you need your car to travel for work and need it repaired before the claim is settled, you could be eligible for compensation for those repairs. Additionally, if you have any emergency room admittance fees or other medical expenses, be sure to save those bills and submit them to your lawyer as part of your claim.

Should the accident result in any extended time off from work, document your absence and the pay you’ve missed as a result. Lost wages can all be claimed as a loss from the accident, and you could be eligible for full reimbursement. If you’re continuing to miss time from work, future wage loss can be a large portion of your settlement that an attorney can help demonstrate by hiring expert witnesses.

Let the Pros Handle Your Case

Auto accidents are stressful, and knowing exactly how to handle them the moment they happen can pile on even more worry. When an incident occurs, you want to call someone you can trust, and an professional such as those at Erie Injury can help make sure your damages are covered and that you aren’t incurring any additional expenses.

Contact our office today if you’ve been in an accident and need help navigating what happens next!