Personal Injury — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you have been injured in an accident due to the fault of another, you may be entitled to recover damages as compensation for your injuries pursuant to Pennsylvania law. In Pennsylvania, as in other states, personal injury law encompasses a broad spectrum of potential litigation, from slip & fall premises liability lawsuits to car accident lawsuits and from product liability lawsuits to medical malpractice claims. Ultimately, a defendant will be found liable in personal injury if the defendant violates their duty of care in the circumstances and causes you to suffer injuries as a result.
Here at Berger & Lagnese, our Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys have litigated claims on behalf of injured clients for nearly three decades. Moreover, we have a long and impressive track record of success. If you are interested in having your personal injury claims evaluated, contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation. We pride ourselves on open and honest communication with our clients and aggressive advocacy on their behalf.
Q: How much time do I have to file my personal injury lawsuit?
A: There is a statute of limitations deadline that applies to all civil claims in the state of Pennsylvania. Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, you have two years (running from the date of injury) to file your claims against a private defendant, and you have just six months to file a civil action against a public defendant (i.e., an employee of the government, a public agency, etc.). Once the deadline has passed, your claims will no longer be actionable in a court of law. It should be noted, however, that there are limited circumstances under which the statute of limitations will be suspended. If your deadline has passed, consult with an attorney for further guidance.
Q: What if I was negligent, too? Am I entitled to compensation?
A: It depends. Pennsylvania is a comparative fault state – but it is not a “pure comparative fault” state. As such, you may be entitled to compensation so long as you are not more at-fault for your injuries than the defendant(s). In other words: if you are more than 50 percent at-fault, then you will not be able to recover any damages for your injury claims. Of course, this means that there is a wide range of potential negligence – anything less than 50 percent – that will still entitle you to compensation.
Q: What damages am I entitled to recover for my injury?
A: Damages vary, depending on the circumstances of the case. You can only assert damages for losses you have or will suffer as a result of the injuries at issue. Generally speaking, damages can be split into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include wage loss, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, and property loss, among other financial losses. Non-economic damages are more difficult to measure and include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
Though infrequent, in some cases the court may award punitive damages. This typically happens if the defendant has acted with particular egregiousness or malice.
Q: Do I have a duty to mitigate my damages?
A: Yes. In Pennsylvania, all plaintiffs have a duty to make reasonable efforts to mitigate (in other words, to limit) their damages. For example, if you fractured your leg in a car accident, it’s important that you seek out medical assistance as soon as possible and correct the fracture. If you fail to seek out medical assistance in a timely manner, the fracture could lead to a serious infection and additional injuries, but you would not be entitled to recover since those additional damages were caused by your failure to properly mitigate.
Q: How does a preexisting injury affect my claim?
A: Preexisting injuries can affect your injury claim in a few different ways. On the one hand, if you cannot show that your new injury is distinct from the preexisting injury, then you cannot hold the defendant liable. On the other hand, Pennsylvania law allows plaintiffs to recover damages for exacerbated injuries — if you have a preexisting injury that was significantly exacerbated as a result of the defendant’s negligence, then you may be entitled to compensation.