What to Do After a Personal Injury Accident?

The experience of an injury can be frightening, confusing, and physically and mentally traumatizing. Whether you were in a car accident, slipped and fell, or were involved in any other kind of accident, receiving medical attention should always be the first step. However, it’s essential to know what happens after the emergency room or doctor’s visit.

If you’re searching for an answer about what to do after you’re injured, Erie Injury, Erie, Pennsylvania’s go-to law firm for personal injury cases, has you covered. We’ll discuss the most common personal injuries, the personal injury claim process, and where to go for help.

The Most Common Personal Injury Accidents

There are nearly endless ways for a person to get injured. That said, there are certainly a few scenarios that stand out by frequency. Some of the most common injuries include:

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2.2 million people annually suffer from injuries related to car accidents. In Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 100,000 crashes a year.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for over 8 million hospital and emergency room visits. Slip and falls, where someone falls due to a slip, occur over 1 million times annually. Moreover, slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older.

In conjunction with slips and falls, the most common workplace injuries are exposure to harmful substances or environments and overexertion. According to the Bureau of Labor, private industry employers report around 2.7 million workplace injuries annually.

While every person’s injury is unique, there are some best practices you’ll want to follow after you’ve been injured:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Document your injury
  • Find an injury lawyer
  • Settle or file a lawsuit with the help of an attorney
  • Negotiate and mediate (if needed)
  • Go to trial (if needed)

Seek Medical Attention

Your health, safety, and wellbeing always need to be your first priority. Seek medical attention immediately and call the police, fire department, and emergency medical service (EMS) if needed. In addition to keeping you safe, this part of the process is also vital to ensure there is documentation of your injury. Keep all of your medical bills, police reports, and other notes for future reference.

Document Your Injury

Memories get less accurate as time passes. Therefore, in conjunction with police reports and doctor’s notes, you should take the time to create your own account of what happened. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may not be able to gather information from others that were at the scene. However, if possible, get witness information, and, if you’re in an automobile accident, it’s essential you get the following information from the other driver:

  • Address
  • Insurance info
  • License number
  • License plate
  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Take pictures!

Also, consider if there is any evidence available that may be helpful in a court case. Photos and videos serve as excellent pieces of evidence, so don’t be afraid to capture as much of the scene as you can.

Find an Injury Lawyer

You should find a personal injury lawyer to represent you to ensure you’re compensated fully for your injury. Be sure to give your lawyer any documents from your doctor’s visits, police reports, and your own account of the situation. These records of the accident will be valuable if there is a lawsuit.

If you’re unsure if you need a lawyer, consider the severity of your injuries, who is at fault, and any insurance complications. If your injuries are severe, alcohol was involved, legal liability is uncertain, claims were denied, and/or the injury has caused you financial hardship, it’s a smart idea to reach out for help. Even if you don’t think your injuries are that severe, it’s best to run your facts by a lawyer first before trying to handle it on your own. You never know what an attorney can do for you unless you ask.

Your lawyer will help you file a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim is a legal dispute that arises when a person or business has caused harm to someone and may be legally responsible for the resulting damages.

We recommend searching for a lawyer who works on a contingency fee, as our firm does. Doing so eliminates the need for upfront costs as the fee only applies in the case of recovery, meaning the lawyer will get a percent of the awarded funds, but you won’t be charged for their services if you aren’t awarded money in the settlement or verdict.

Settle or File a Lawsuit

Personal injury claims often settle before your lawyer files a lawsuit. However, when parties can’t agree, the claim needs to go into litigation. 

Negotiate and Mediate

A filed personal injury lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to go to court. In fact, many cases settle without ever going to trial. However, there are instances where parties are simply unable to reach an agreement on their own, in which case they may consider mediation.

Go to Trial

Unfortunately, negotiation and mediation don’t always work. In this scenario, your case will go to trial, where a judge or jury decides the outcome of the personal injury lawsuit. Should the court rule in your favor, you could be entitled to compensation.

Get Help When You Need It

Accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Whether you’re dealing with mounting medical expenses or lost income, the impact of personal injuries can cause significant financial hardships. If you or a family member has suffered injuries due to another individual or business, contact the personal injury lawyers at Erie Injury.

What is the Personal Injury Claim Process?

Be it at home, at work, or on the road, accidents can happen anywhere. Between medical expenses and lost income, personal injuries can cause myriad financial hardships. However, if a person or business’s negligent or reckless conduct caused your injury, you may be entitled to compensation.

While on the path to re-establishing your financial and physical wellbeing, you’ll likely go through the personal injury claim process. To guide your way, Erie Injury, a leading law firm specializing in personal injury, is here to help. In this post, we’ll review the personal injury claim process, how it works, and what you can expect.

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

To help you understand what a personal injury claim is, it’s important to understand what constitutes a personal injury. As defined by Cornell Law School, personal injuries include every variety of injury to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation, as contradistinguished from injury to property rights.

Accordingly, a personal injury claim, often referred to as a personal injury case or personal injury lawsuit, is a legal dispute that arises when a person or business has caused harm to someone and may be legally responsible for the resulting damages.

There are three main grounds on which a person can initiate a personal injury claim:

  1. Negligence: Failure to behave with care
  2. Strict Liability: Individuals or businesses are responsible for an action.
  3. Intentional Wrongs: Individuals committed a wrongful act intentionally

It’s vital to realize that personal injury claims don’t just arise from bodily harm. People can file a lawsuit if an individual or business damages their mental wellbeing or reputation. To help you discern between the two, consider a few examples:

Bodily HarmNon-Bodily Harm
Automobile accidents
Medical malpractice
Product defect accidents 
Workplace accidents
False detention, arrest, or imprisonment
Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Invasion of privacy
Malicious prosecution

If a plaintiff (the party who brings legal action) is successful, the defendant’s (the party being sued) insurance company (or through personal means) will award money to compensate for injuries. This compensation typically covers:

  • Lost wages 
  • Medical expenses
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

The Personal Injury Claim Process

The personal injury claim process is complicated to navigate. The claimant must be mindful of the statute of limitations—the appropriate timeframe in which a lawsuit must be filed. Furthermore, a detailed understanding of past rulings is essential to a fair settlement. The steps you should expect to take include, but are not limited to:

  • Seeking medical attention
  • Documenting your accident
  • Finding an injury lawyer
  • Settling or Filing a lawsuit
  • Negotiating and Mediating
  • Going to Trial

Seeking Medical Attention

If you’re injured, your first priority is to seek medical attention. Doing so is essential to your physical wellbeing and your potential future settlement. Be sure to keep all of your medical bills and records on file to ensure your claim is accurately documented and settled appropriately.

Documenting Your Accident

Most people’s memories get less accurate as time passes after an event. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take notes about your accident while it’s still fresh in your mind. If there is any evidence available, be sure to collect and preserve it.

Finding an Injury Lawyer

Next, you’ll need to find a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Whether your case gets resolved through an informal settlement or you need to go to civil court, a lawyer can help ensure you’re compensated fully. From the discovery phase (where both the plaintiff and defendant’s lawyers gather evidence) to the conclusion of the trial, they’ll help keep you informed through the entire process.

When you find your lawyer, be prepared to be interviewed about your accident. They’ll review what happened, your medical treatment, and your injuries. Ideally, you’ll have these records on hand so nothing is overlooked or mishandled.

Settling or Filing a Lawsuit

Many minor personal injury claims settle before a lawsuit is filed. However, if parties can’t come to an agreement, a claim will need to transition into litigation. During this phase, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.

Negotiating and Mediating 

In many cases, both parties are able to negotiate to potentially settle without going to trial. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, they might consider participating in a mediation, a process wherein a third-party mediator helps to resolve the case. Settling before trial can save valuable time and money, so it’s frequently worth considering. That said, sometimes a deal cannot be made.

Going to Trial

In some cases, negotiation and mediation don’t work. When no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial. Here, a judge or jury decides the outcome of the personal injury lawsuit. If the court rules in your favor, your lawyer will then assist you in collecting compensation. In some cases, a defendant may file a post-trial motion or appeal to determine whether there was an error in the ruling.

Don’t Go Through the Process Alone

The legal system is complicated and when it comes to personal injuries, being expeditious is critical. If you or a family member has suffered injuries due to another individual or business, contact the personal injury lawyers at Erie Injury. All of our lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning there is no fee unless there is a recovery in your case!

Distracted Driving Accident Statistics and Prevention

PennDOT reports that there were 104,475 traffic crashes on Pennsylvania roads in 2020, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring more than 61,000. This equates to three people fatally injured each day, and one death every eight hours.

Distracted driving is a big factor in many of these fatal motor vehicle crashes. 

The NHTSA reports that in 2019, more than 3,000 people were killed in fatal distracted driving accidents, making it the cause of nearly 9 percent of all crash fatalities that year in the U.S. 

What qualifies as distracted driving?

Distracted is defined by the NHTSA as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”

Texting and driving is the biggest distraction and has the most potential for fatalities. Taking five seconds to send or read a text while driving at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.  

Dangers of distracted driving

It only takes a split second of driving distracted to permanently ruin someone’s life—including your own. From an injury there is no possibility of recovering from, to a fatality, the decision to drive distracted can be catastrophic. 

Teenagers and young adults are the most likely to engage in distracted driving. The CDC reports that 25 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were young adults aged 20–29, and drivers aged 15-19 were even more likely to be distracted than drivers aged 20 and older.

What should you do if you are injured by a distracted driver?

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver in Pennsylvania, you might be entitled to punitive damages in addition to compensation. Our team of car accident attorneys represents car accident victims of distracted drivers and people who text while driving. We can help you recover your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Call our Pennsylvania Car Accident Law Firm for a free consultation at 814-452-6232.

Do’s and Don’ts for When You’re Injured at Work

Getting injured at work is stressful. For one, you’re hurt. Two, you’ll need to go through the paperwork-laden process of reporting your injury. And three, you’ll have to avoid the many pitfalls that can limit your workers’ compensation.

Whether you slipped on a wet floor or strained a muscle lifting a heavy item, you need to take the proper steps to ensure compensation for your injury. In this blog post, Erie Injury, your go-to lawyers for effective personal injury representation, outlines what actions you should and should not take when injured on the job.

A Quick Look at Workplace Injuries

Accidents occur on the job more often than you might think. The National Safety Council (NSC) stated a workplace injury occurs every seven seconds, which tallies up to a  total of 88,500 individual injuries a week—that’s 4,600,000 injuries a year!

Of course, some industries such as emergency services, transportation, and manufacturing come with a higher risk of injury. Although proper training and guidance help minimize workplace injuries, accidents still happen. The most common injuries are:

  1. Overexertion (33.54%)
  2. Contact with objects and equipment (26%)
  3. Slips, trips, and falls (25.8%)

What You Should Do

When you’re injured on the job, it’s critical to follow specific guidelines in order to maintain and protect your workers’ compensation benefits. If you have an accident at work:

  1. Receive Immediate Medical Attention (And Keep Records)

If a person or object has severely injured you on the job, do not attempt to move as it can cause further injury and pain. Instead, call 911 to receive immediate medical care or have someone call for you. Follow your doctor’s orders after receiving medical attention and establish whether you have sustained any permanent injuries.

During this process, it is imperative that you keep documentation of your medical records, including receipts and bills. If you do not see a doctor, proving that you were injured is significantly more difficult. It may also create unwanted issues and processing delays with insurance companies.

Gather Witnesses

Asking witnesses on the scene to help corroborate your injury claim will help you in your fight to receive proper compensation. You should ask for the witness’s name, address, and phone number so that the insurance agency may contact them if necessary.

  1. Report Your Injury

Once you have received medical care, report your injury to your supervisor as soon as you are able. However, you should refrain from providing extraneous details regarding your physical health and mental/emotional state. Often, because we’re scared and confused during the time of an injury, our actual account of the situation may be different than what happened in reality. 

So, when contacting your supervisor, simply inform them of the incident, including the date, time, and exact location. If you can, keep a written account of this report. 

Speak to an Attorney 

After seeking medical attention and reporting your injury, consult and hire a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case. An ​​attorney will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve by reviewing all of your documents as well as the laws that pertain to your incident. 

What You Shouldn’t Do

When it comes to reporting a personal injury, certain actions you can take may hinder your claim. Here is what you shouldn’t do after getting hurt at work:

  1. Give a Recorded Statement

Insurance companies seek out recorded statements in order to find any faults in your claim. The problem is, people are often confused about what actually occurred when they were injured. For this reason, avoid giving a recorded statement until the facts are straightened out and you’ve talked to a lawyer and medical professional.

Furthermore, do not discuss the details of your accident with those who are not involved in your case. If you do, make sure to have a lawyer present. He/She/They will prevent you from falling into early settlement traps set by insurance companies. 

  1. Sign a Medical Release

If an insurance company asks you to sign a medical release, your answer should be no. While pre-existing conditions can be a cause, oftentimes they have nothing to do with a workplace injury. If you sign a medical release form, insurance companies may attempt to argue that your work-related injury is due to your prior injury or pre-existing condition.

At the same time, hiding your injuries may harm your case. How you choose to disclose your prior injuries can make or break your case, which is why you should hire and speak to an attorney for guidance. 

In short, insurance companies will use any information they find in your records to lower your settlement or deny your claim. You are not required to sign a blanket medical authorization form to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

  1. Accept Premature Settlements

Personal injury lawyers will see that you obtain a fair injury settlement, which is why it’s crucial to hire one. If you settle too early and without a lawyer, it is unlikely that you will get the compensation to which you are entitled. An experienced attorney knows what your case is worth and how to maximize your case’s value.

Your Personal Injury Lawyers 

Whether you’ve been injured by work equipment or have fallen on the job, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The attorneys at Erie Injury will assist you in making the most out of your case by thoroughly investigating your claim at no cost to you. Call 814-452-6232 for a free consultation, or visit our contact page for more information!

Safe Driving Tips for Winter

The wintery weather has officially arrived. Whether we’re traveling in a heavy, sleeting rain, snow or slippery ice, driving in these conditions can be treacherous—and even deadly.

According to the US DOT, more than 20,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021 alone (January – June), which is an 18.4% increase since 2020. It is the largest number of auto accident fatalities reported since 2006. 

Beyond these tragic fatalities, around three million people in the U.S. are injured annually in an auto accident. Two million of them experience permanent, life-altering injuries.

While you can’t control other cars and their drivers, there are some precautions you can take and tips you should follow to ensure you stay safe out on the roads this winter – and all year.

Slow Down

If you are unable to avoid driving in extreme weather conditions, be sure you go slow. The NHTSA reports that in the past twenty years, “speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2019, speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities.”

A car driving at a slow rate of speed is much easier to control than a car driving at a high rate of speed – especially on snow-covered, icy roads. In addition to slowing down, it’s also important to be aware of how close you are to the car in front of you. Keep more distance between you in case you need to stop quickly. Leave your house earlier, so you have more time to get where you need to go. 

Plan Your Route

In addition to leaving earlier, be sure to also check the weather and current road conditions. Plan your trip accordingly. If you’re embarking on a long car trip, be sure to get familiar with the directions beforehand. Let friends/family know when you anticipate arriving.

Check The Tires

Cold temperatures affect tire pressure, causing it to drop. In preparation for driving this winter, be sure to fill your car’s tires with the manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure. This can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual or the label on the driver’s side door frame. 

It’s a good idea to inspect your tires monthly – and before long road trips. Be sure to check each tire’s age, tire pressure and any damage, including cracks, bumps, punctures, etc. If you find any damage or cause for concern, head to your nearest tire service. 

Winter Car Kit

In addition to a full tank of gas and antifreeze, consider preparing a “winter car kit” to keep in your trunk in case you do have an emergency while driving in the snow. Items that could be helpful include:

  • Jumper cables 
  • Blankets and hand warmers
  • Extra mittens, socks and hats
  • Bottled water
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Flashlight and batteries 
  • First-aid kit
  • Snow shovel
  • Road flares or reflective warning triangles

Avoid Distracted Driving

It’s never a good idea to drive while distracted—that includes texting, eating, talking on your phone and driving impaired. Coupled with wintery weather, distracted driving can be a recipe for disaster. Be sure to always wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers are buckled as well.

Emergency Tips

  • Stay focused. Pay attention to your own body and well-being, your passengers, your car, and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t overexert yourself. 
  • Stay in your car. If your vehicle does get stuck in the snow, you should stay in it. Not only does it provide shelter from the weather, it makes it easier for first responders to locate you. If possible, tie a bright piece of fabric to your car’s antenna and keep your interior lights on. 
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear. A blocked exhaust pipe can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Stay calm, stay warm. Use blankets, jackets or anything you have available to keep your body warm inside your vehicle. 

When Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or someone you know was hurt in an accident, you might be wondering if you should hire a personal injury lawyer. Depending on the severity of your injuries, who is at fault, and any insurance complications—along with a variety of other factors—chances are good it’s worth reaching out to one. 

Erie Injury, your go-to attorneys for personal injury, car accidents, and workers’ compensation, is here to help. In this post, we’ll cut through the chaos and discover what you need, several situations that may call for a personal injury lawyer, and what you can do to recover mentally, physically, and financially.

An Overview of Accidents

According to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts, the United States experienced 173,040 preventable deaths, 48.3 million injuries, and $1,097.9 billion in costs in 2019. Within those thousands of deaths and millions of injuries, there are a wide variety of circumstances that may have called for the involvement of a personal injury lawyer. 

  1. You’re Suffering From Severe Injuries

When it comes to being injured in an accident, minor aches and pains may be a symptom of more severe issues. For instance, a bruise could actually be a broken rib, while a backache could signify a herniated disk.

Some injuries can turn out to be worse than what your primary care provider initially thinks, making it crucial to get a second opinion. You never want to settle your own case without consulting with a personal injury attorney.

If you hire a personal injury lawyer, they will rightfully deter you from prematurely settling a case until you are aware of the full extent of your injuries. A lawyer will also inform you of pain and suffering damages that you may be entitled to claim during a case, such as the following:

  • Physical Injuries
  • Medical Treatments and Prognosis
  • Emotional and Mental Pain
  • Employment Leave of Absence

Your lawyer will use a number of documents and records to help demonstrate the full value of your case:

  • Medical Bills, Records, and Prognosis
  • Witness Testimonies (e.g., friends, family members, third-parties)
  • Photos of Your Injuries
  • Psychiatric Records
  1. Alcohol Was Involved

The Dram Shop Law/Liquor Liability in Pennsylvania states that the establishment or licensed individual who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person may be responsible for injuries and damages. Alcohol consumption can lead to the occurrence of a number of different tragedies:

  • Drunk Driving Accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Boating Accidents
  • Drownings
  • Bar Fights
  • Slip-and-Fall Incidents

If you have suffered injuries by the actions of an individual under the influence, a personal injury lawyer will be able to walk you through your case.

  1. You Don’t Know Who’s at Fault

Legal liability—or fault—refers to who is responsible for the accident or injury that has occurred. While the court ultimately determines legal liability, a personal injury lawyer will investigate all the parties at fault in order to properly present your case. Even if responsibility for an accident or injury is unclear, you should hire a personal injury lawyer to help perform an investigation. 

Liability is most often determined by:

  • Negligent Acts (absence of executing reasonable care)
  • Failure to Comply With the Law
  • Product Defectiveness
  • Routine Maintenance (e.g., properties, buildings)
  1. There Are Insurance Complications 

If the insurance company denies your claim, you may feel as if you’re left to navigate your finances and injuries on your own. However, with a personal injury lawyer, that isn’t the case. More often than not, insurance companies deny claims due to uncertainty regarding liability. Your lawyer may effectively help you dispute the insurance company’s decision. 

There are several other reasons for claim denial with insurance companies, such as:

  • Failure to File a Timely Claim
  • You’re Not Represented by a Lawyer 
  • Absence of Proper Investigation
  • Claim Exceeds Your Coverage Limits
  • Failure to Receive Immediate Medical Attention
  • You Committed Fraud

Insurance complications do not begin and end at claim denial. Complications can also take the form of payment or response delay, low settlement offers, and reluctance to negotiate.

  1. Potential for a Large Payout

Specific cases and claims can result in significant settlements before they reach a court and become a lawsuit. A skilled personal injury leverages his or her reputation, skills, and knowledge of the law to help encourage the defendant to offer a fair settlement before litigation is necessary. That said, a skilled personal injury attorney is similarly prepared to reject an unfair settlement, file suit, and try the case in Court, if necessary. 

Choose Erie Injury

If you’re struggling with a case and need assistance with an auto accident, personal injury, a work injury, or even Social Security disability benefits, the attorneys at Erie Injury are here to help.

We have a seasoned team of attorneys available, and you only pay if we win your case. Don’t let uncertainty or finances stop you from pursuing a personal injury claim. Call us today at 1-800-999-0750 or visit us at one of our three locations for a free case evaluation.

I was bitten by a neighbor’s dog – what should I do?

According to the ASPCA, approximately 334,000 people in the US visit emergency rooms annually for dog bites. In 2019, there were 46 fatal dog attacks in the United States. Most of these fatalities were children. 

These statistics are alarming.

What should you do if you are bitten by a dog?

If you are bitten by a dog, your first priority should be to seek medical attention for your injuries. Dog bites often result in serious injuries, including lacerations requiring stitches and permanent scarring that can entail expensive plastic surgery (or multiple surgeries) to correct.

In addition to worrying about injuries from bites, you must also confirm that the dog wasn’t carrying any communicable diseases, such as rabies. It’s critical to find out whether you’ve had the proper vaccinations needed and that you get any necessary boosters to minimize long-term illness.

Beyond repairing your physical injuries, seeking medical treatment immediately after a dog bite allows you to document the injuries and the facts surrounding the bite, which helps build your case. Once you have gotten the immediate medical care you need, your next step is to contact an attorney who is experienced with dog bite claims.

Most people aren’t aware that if they are injured by someone else’s dog, they can file a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies. Dog bite claims will help compensate you for the injuries incurred, including pain and suffering, scarring, surgeries, medical bills and lost wages from being unable to work. 

In the state of Pennsylvania, liability for dog bites is not automatic. Typically, negligence must be proved in order to pursue the claim. 

What is the process for dog bite claims?

Our team has handled a wide range of dog bite cases, and we will walk you through the entire process. We’ll assist you with:

  • Finding insurance coverage
  • Proving liability
  • Establishing your damages
  • If necessary, obtaining court-approval of a minor’s settlement

Our team examines your specific situation and determines whether or not you are likely to recover damages. We may ask you for details regarding the dog bite injury, as well as information like the name and phone number of the dog’s owner, as well as any witnesses.

What if I was bitten by a dog belonging to a friend or family member?

Many dog bite cases involve a family or friend’s dog and some clients are hesitant to pursue cases against them. Suing a friend or family member can seem overwhelming, but what you may not realize is that the friend or relative’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance typically covers dog bites. In effect, you’re making an insurance claim—not going after your friends or family.

Our primary goal is to negotiate an amicable settlement with the friend’s insurance carrier rather than having to file suit. When necessary, however, we will file a lawsuit. If that is the best approach in your situation, the dog owner’s insurance company will most likely hire an attorney for them, paying all costs and fees.

When it comes to making sure you’re awarded a fair settlement and that you get the money you deserve to compensate for medical bills and lost wages, our team is the one you want on your side. We offer free consultations and are happy to discuss your case at any time. Contact us online or call our firm at 814-452-6232 to schedule an appointment. 

What is a Contingent Fee?

Have you been hurt and feel like you need a lawyer, but lack the money to hire one? If so, you may be interested to learn what a contingent fee is.

In this blog post, Erie Injury, your go-to attorneys for personal injury, car accidents, and workers’ compensation, will take an in-depth look at contingent fees. This information may help you determine if it’s the right option for you.

A Quick Look at the Legal Landscape

There is a significant “justice gap” in the United States. More specifically, there is a severe difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources they have available to hire an attorney. 

According to a 2019 study conducted by Legal Sources Corporation (LSC), “86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans… received inadequate or no legal help” due to a lack of resources. 

In fact, a large majority of Americans refuse to seek help because they are unsure of where to go to receive support, do not know if their issue is legal, or choose to tackle a problem on their own, given that they lack the funding to hire a lawyer for their case.

What is a Contingent Fee Arrangement?

The American Bar Association (ABA) states that in a contingent fee arrangement, “the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the recovery, which is the amount finally paid to the client.” Furthermore, a contingent fee only applies when the client’s case has resulted in success. A lawyer will typically accept a percentage of the money awarded to the client upon winning or settling the case instead of hourly pay.

When the case results in loss, neither the client nor the lawyer will be paid. In this scenario, the client is not legally required to pay their lawyer.

Civil cases, such as personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, are most likely to involve a contingent fee arrangement, given that the end goal is to claim money. These cases often result in a resolution between the lawyer and the insurance company instead of a court hearing. Other scenarios that may use contingent fee arrangements are:

  • Professional malpractice
  • Sexual harassment
  • Employment discrimination and wage dispute cases
  • Class action lawsuits
  • Debt collections

Clients usually opt for a contingent fee arrangement with a lawyer when they have limited financial resources, or the case is both complex and costly.

Prohibited Contingent Fee Cases

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct “prohibits a lawyer from charging a contingent fee in a domestic relations matter when payment is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support or property settlement to be obtained.” Essentially, contingent fees are prohibited in cases regarding:

  • Domestic relations
  • Representation of a defendant in a criminal case


One of the most common reasons clients choose a contingent agreement is that they do not have to pay their lawyer if their case is lost. Often, the client does not have the initial funds, making the appeal stronger. A contingent agreement may appeal to lawyers because it motivates them to do their best in a case; otherwise, they do not receive payment. If both the lawyer and client are successful, they both will receive compensation. 

Regarding advantages, Cornell Law School states that contingent fee agreements may:

  • Improve access for indigent clients by enabling people who could not otherwise afford counsel to assert their claims
  • Provide an incentive for attorneys to seek client success
  • Enable clients to shift the risk of losing to the lawyer. 

The potential downside to contingent agreements is that the client may end up paying the lawyer more than they would have if they had paid by the hour. Lawyers may not always opt for a case with a contingent agreement due to its high-risk nature, but if they do, they may negotiate for a higher percentage of the settlement. In the United States, contingent fee agreements and compensation caps vary by state.

With our contingent fee arrangements, Erie Injury never charges a fee unless we obtain you a recovery. We also front all the expenses in your lawsuit so insurance companies won’t get the best of you, meaning that you can fight for fair compensation while obtaining a lawyer within your financial means.

Minimize Your Risk, Maximize Your Reward

If you find that you are struggling with an auto accident, personal injury, or even social security disability benefits, the attorneys at Erie Injury are prepared to fight for your rights. Don’t allow a lack of funds to deter you from challenging a case. Whether you are located in Erie, Meadville, or Smethport, an attorney is on standby, ready to help. Call us today at 1-800-999-0750 for a free case evaluation.

What Do I Do if I Am Injured at Work?

If you’re suffering from a workplace injury, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSL), private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses between 2018 and 2019.

The immediate steps you take following a workplace injury incident are critical. In this blog post, Bernard Stuczynski Barnett & Lager, your go-to attorneys for vehicle accidents, Workers’ Compensation claims, and filing for disability, provide a list of the three essential actions you should take when a personal injury occurs at the workplace.

1. Know the Signs (and Take Preventative Measures)

There are many indicators that you might be suffering from a workplace injury. There will likely be evidence suggesting you have sustained an injury during work, such as cuts from broken glass or bruises from moving equipment. According to the National Safety Council’s Top Work-Related Injury Causes, there are eight common causes for workplace injuries:

  1. Overexertion and bodily reaction (e.g., using tools on a construction site, loading trucks, typing on a keyboard while sitting at a desk); 275,590 injuries
  2. Falls, slips, and trips; 244,000 injuries
  3. Contact with objects and equipment; 229,410 injuries
  4. Transportation incidents; 49,430 injuries
  5. Violence and other injuries caused by persons or animals; 44,480 injuries
  6. Exposure to harmful substances or environments; 36,840 injuries
  7. Nonclassifiable; 6,770 injuries
  8. Fire and explosions; 1,700 injuries

Injuries that have occurred in the workplace may manifest in a number of different ways:

  • Changes in physical abilities (decreased dexterity or speed, coordination stamina)
  • Frequent trips to the doctor or hospital visits
  • Inability to return to work for an extended period of time following release from medical care 
  • Changes in mental health (depression, anxiety, emotional distress, stress)
  • Sudden change in sleeping patterns

While some incidents are unavoidable, there are several actions you can take to prevent injuries in the workplace. When operating equipment, always wear the recommended safety equipment and refrain from taking any shortcuts. You should also follow your employer’s dress code, stay alert, and ask for assistance from coworkers when it comes to more complicated tasks.

2. Report the Injury

In the event of an injury at work, report to your supervisor immediately. In most cases, employers will not be aware of the incident if they were not witness to it. What’s more, reporting to your supervisor is one of the first steps in obtaining workers’ compensation. The sooner you act, the more time you will have to pursue your claim and receive compensation.

Be aware that many states have a Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitation, which means there are individual deadlines for reporting your injury to your employer and for filing an injury claim. These deadlines are often fact-specific, so be sure to consult an attorney if you have a concern as to when you should file for workers’ compensation.

If your employer has withheld or destroyed documents related to your injury, contact us immediately to assist in obtaining copies of these forms for your records. The best course of action is to have a lawyer guide you through this process, as well as with any information and documentation regarding medical treatment. 

3. Seek Medical Treatment

In severe cases, you may have no choice but to seek medical attention before you are able to report your injury. In 2018, the BSL recorded that approximately 333,930 workplace injuries or illnesses resulted in an employee visiting a medical treatment facility.

Your health care provider will likely provide instructions for your treatment, but they may also include some form of physical therapy, medication, or medical equipment. Keep detailed records of your treatments and their costs to present them during a workers’ compensation claim. In addition to your medical records, save all documentation of lost wages or benefits and any other evidence that proves you were injured on the job. Most importantly, be sure to stick to your doctor’s restrictions to avoid reinjury or worsening of an existing injury.

Here’s what Workers’ Compensation generally covers:

  • Income benefits
  • Medical and rehabilitation costs
  • Funeral expenses 
  • Death benefits
  • Specific loss benefits (e.g. certain types of scarring and disfigurements, amputations, loss of use of certain body parts, hearing loss, et cetera)

Contact Erie Injury for Help

You may feel like you’re in shock after an accident occurs in your workplace, but the sooner you act, the more time you will have to obtain compensation for injuries. Our team of personal injury attorneys at Bernard Stuczynski Barnett & Lager are ready to help you fight for your rights. Call us today at 814-452-6232 for a free consultation or fill out our contact form!

Do I need a lawyer to get a car accident settlement?

If you are involved in a car accident that causes significant bodily injury and/or damage to your vehicle, there will be challenges ahead. Not only will you be faced with the cost of vehicle repairs or replacement, you may also be faced with having to take time off from work, lost wages, property damage, medical bills—and even pain and suffering. 

You need to be compensated for these costs—but how?

car accident settlementCar accident settlements: you need to know what steps to take next. 

One option is to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on your own. However, if you take this route, you may end up settling for much, much less than you deserve. Insurance adjusters often utilize a variety of tactics designed to undervalue your claim. They can hire private investigators, and perform insurance searches to pull up past auto accident claims, work injuries, or any other insurance claims you might have made in the past. They also have access to proprietary software that they use to value claims, which they often use to short-change you, since it doesn’t account for the unique characteristics of your particular case. Moreover, if you don’t have an attorney to help deal with liens and subrogation, you might find yourself owing money back to your health insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid, or another organization claiming a portion of your settlement proceeds.

You aren’t a statistic.

A second option is to work with an injury law firm with attorneys on staff who have earned a reputation for aggressive, knowledgeable insurance coverage litigation. Working closely with professionals who understand Pennsylvania insurance contracts and the laws that insurance companies must operate under will help ensure you are compensated fairly. Even if an insurance company denies a claim or fails to hold up its end of the bargain, there are often times where our attorneys can still make a recovery.

Don’t let anyone, especially an insurance company’s adjuster, convince you that you don’t need a lawyer—and don’t be pushed into settling your case too early. Insurance adjusters are not your friends and they don’t have your best interests at heart. They are hired to pay you as little as possible, if anything at all.

An experienced auto accident attorney knows how to properly build and develop your case. Our goal is always to prove the true, full extent of your injuries and seek the compensation you deserve. Our law firm is not a “settlement mill.” If we can’t negotiate fair value for your case, we will file a lawsuit. We aren’t afraid to go to trial.

Furthermore, we work on a contingent-fee basis, meaning if you don’t get a recovery, you pay nothing. Everyone deserves a great attorney, regardless of financial status. 

Contact us today for more information. We look forward to reviewing your case.