magnifying glassWhen you are injured in an auto accident, you are probably shaken up, stressed out, in pain, and generally concerned with many, many things other than your legal rights. However, being concerned with your legal rights is something that you most definitely should be. In order to get the compensation you deserve, you’ll need to act decisively and promptly. One of the first things you should do is retain skilled Pennsylvania injury counsel. Your experienced injury attorney can be the one to focus on your legal issues while you focus on you and your family.

Knowledgeable counsel matters in an auto accident case because details matter, and your diligent attorney can work to identify the details that can make the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one. Take, for example, a case involving John, an employee of a major telecommunications company. John was driving an employer-owned vehicle when another driver crashed into him at a traffic light. The crash caused John to suffer substantial damages. The at-fault driver only had insurance coverage equal to the minimum required by state law.

Since his damages exceeded the policy limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance, John filed an underinsured motorist claim with his employer’s auto insurer. The insurance company denied the claim, contending that John’s employer actually had declined underinsured motorist coverage as part of its policy.

Rooftop HVAC UnitWhen you’re hurt on the job, the injury you suffer could have major negative impacts on your life. Because of that, an award of workers’ compensation benefits can be an important part of recovery from your injuries. Sometimes, you may be concerned that, if you made a less-than-perfect decision that played a role in your injury, you cannot obtain benefits. You should never simply assume you have no case. In many instances, you may still be entitled to an award of benefits. Always talk to an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney first.

A case from this past summer demonstrates how you can still recover benefits even if you got hurt as a result of your own poor decision. Robert was an HVAC mechanic working a job in Newtown. Robert’s job included cleaning condenser coils in air conditioning units. Most of those units were on the roofs of buildings. One June day, Robert arrived at work and got up on the roof, using a ladder placed on the building by roofers who were also working on the building.

When Robert finished his work, he gathered his tools and noticed that the roofers were gone, and so was their ladder. Robert had a cell phone, but he didn’t call anyone. He merely waited a half-hour and, after that time, walked to an area of the roof that was over a bed of mulch and only 16-20 feet off the ground. Thinking he could land safely, the mechanic jumped. Robert was wrong, and he suffered multiple fractures. He eventually required surgery to insert screws and plates into each of his heels. His doctor concluded that it could require up to two years of rehabilitation.

hourglassA successful car accident case often involves several ingredients, including strong factual evidence that your opponent was at fault, a clear legal basis for liability, proof of the substantial damages that you have suffered, and diligent legal representation from a Pennsylvania car accident attorney who aggressively pursues a recovery for you. This diligence and aggressiveness are important because, if a case sits with no activity for too long, the trial court may be allowed to throw the lawsuit out entirely, even if you have a strong case.

An example of the harmful effects of case inactivity was the injury lawsuit filed by Dorothy in 2007. Dorothy and Stacy were involved in an auto accident in 2005. As a result of the accident, Dorothy suffered injuries, so she sued. Discovery went on for nearly two years. The court identified May 2009 as the final discovery deadline and October 2009 as a time-frame for trial. The case, however, never proceeded to trial.

In the fall of 2015, the trial court published a notice that demanded attendance at a Nov. 30 hearing, or else the court would dismiss Dorothy’s case for inactivity. The Nov. 30 hearing came and went, with none of Dorothy, Stacy, or the lawyers for either side attending. The trial court dismissed the case.

truck crashThere are many potential pitfalls that can await an injured worker who pursues a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. One of these pitfalls, if the worker is injured while on the road, is often something called the “going and coming rule,” which denies benefits to workers hurt while commuting to or from work. This rule is not ironclad, and there are exceptions, however, that may permit a worker to win an award of benefits even if he was on the way to or from work when the accident happened. By retaining skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation counsel, you can make sure you are equipped to deal with and potentially overcome the pitfalls that might lead to an unsuccessful outcome.

One recent example of a worker who overcame the going and coming rule was the case of a demolition worker named Shawn. The Commonwealth Court’s opinion in Shawn’s case provides a very useful set of insights regarding what it takes to put together a successful workers’ compensation case. In this case, Shawn was a man who did work such as tearing out floors, walls, and ceilings for a cleanout and junk removal business. As the court explained in its opinion, you, as the injured worker who has filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, have the initial obligation to prove to the court that your claim meets all of the requirements imposed by the law for an award of benefits. One of those criteria is that you had to have been “in the course and scope of employment” when your injury took place. In other words, you must have been “on the job” and doing something for the benefit of your employer’s business when you got hurt. You do not need to have been on your employer’s premises when the injury occurred.

As a general rule, any injury that happens while you are commuting to or from work is not considered “in the course and scope of employment.” Thus, an injury that happens while you’re commuting to or from work will, in many cases, not permit you to recover workers’ compensation benefits. This rule, as with many in the law, is not true 100% of the time. There are exceptions. These can include your having a job in which your employment contract includes transportation to and from work, situations in which you have no fixed place of work, an injury that happens because you were on a special assignment from your employer, or other special circumstances in which you were “furthering the business of the employer.”

trip and fallWhen you are injured in a trip-and-fall accident, you have to be prepared on many fronts in order to achieve a successful outcome. You need to be prepared to figure out whom you should sue. You also need to be prepared to respond to the defenses that the property owner will deploy to attempt to defeat your case and avoid liability. To ensure that you’re properly prepared, you need to retain an experienced Pennsylvania trip-and-fall attorney to go to work on your side.

One recent example of a trip-and-fall case addressed by the Superior Court was an accident suffered by a woman named Tina. Tina was visiting her daughter at the daughter’s home in Blair County when Tina tripped and fell on the front stairs to the home. The daughter’s home was a rental property.

When you are injured in a trip-and-fall accident as a result of a hazardous condition on a piece of property, you may be entitled to recover damages. One of the keys to achieving a successful outcome is identifying the correct person or entity that was responsible for the safety of the property and suing that person or entity. If the property is occupied by the owner, choosing the person to sue may be fairly straightforward. If the property is leased, the decision may be more complex, since you must identify whether the tenant or the landlord had the legal responsibility to ensure the safety of the property.

construction workersIn any type of case, it obviously helps if you have evidence that is both very believable and persuasive. This includes the expert witnesses who give testimony in your case. Helping you in putting together a workers’ compensation case that is both compelling and convincing is one of the key benefits of working with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney.

An example of this in action was the case of Andrew, a man who did drywall, ceiling, and concrete work. One day in 2014, Andrew was hurt unloading plastic corrugated pipe. Even though Andrew was wearing a hard hat, when the pipe hit his head, he felt a burning sensation “like a torch” on the back of his neck.

A few weeks later, still experiencing ongoing pain, Andrew went to his doctor. Eventually, Andrew saw a specialist who did an MRI and found two spinal problems – a herniated disc and a bulging disc. These two issues were a result of the pipe smacking Andrew in the head, in the doctor’s opinion.

Franklin InstituteA recent Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling went in favor of a museum patron who tripped and fell when exiting an exhibit. The outcome highlights the fact that a tripping hazard need not be something that is broken down or dramatically dilapidated in order to give you the chance to pursue your case in court. In other words, if you’ve been hurt in a trip-and-fall situation, be sure to take prompt action and consult knowledgeable Pennsylvania premises liability counsel about your potential case.

The guest, Christina, was visiting a science museum in Philadelphia one day in August 2014 when she walked through an interactive exhibit focused on the brain. The exhibit involved some climbing. As Christina exited the attraction, she “stepped down off of an abnormally large step onto an uneven surface where the added/spongy floor meets the hard floor and was caused to trip and fall on the uneven/unstable surface of the exhibit,” she alleged in her complaint. As she indicated during the case, the exit area gave the appearance of a hard, even surface but was actually a soft, foamy, and uneven area, and that unevenness caused her fall.

In most trip-and-fall cases, the injured person (who becomes the plaintiff in the lawsuit) will accuse the owner (or other person or entity who’s responsible for the property’s upkeep) of engaging in negligence, which means that person or entity (the defendant) either did something or failed to do something that created an unreasonable risk of harm, and that risk was what caused the plaintiff to suffer her injuries.

signatureIn workers’ compensation cases, as with almost any type of litigation matter, sometimes circumstances may dictate that it makes sense for you, as an injured worker, to settle your case. Settlement provides you with the certainty of a payout while avoiding the time, stress, and uncertainty involved in a legal contest. One way to settle your workers’ compensation case is by signing a Compromise & Release (C&R) agreement. An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you decide whether or not settling your case with a C&R agreement is a good move for you.

One recent case highlighting how this process works, and how important each provision in your C&R agreement can be, was the workers’ compensation action filed by Thomas, an employee of a communication company in Chester County. Thomas suffered serious injuries when he fell off a building while on the job. The fall broke both his feet, in addition to inflicting other injuries. The employee filed for workers’ compensation benefits.

Thomas decided to settle his case and sign a C&R agreement. In any C&R agreement you sign, it is very important that the document describe your injuries accurately and in a way that will cover everything related to your workplace accident. The agreement Thomas signed indicated that the covered injuries were ““[v]arious injuries and bodily parts including but not necessarily limited to fractured right and left feet” and that the employer agreed to “pay for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses that are related to the… acknowledged work-related injury.”

marketSettlements can, in some circumstances, be very beneficial ways to resolve certain types of cases. Settlements may allow you to avoid the stress and time almost inevitably expended on a lengthy litigation process. They may also allow you to get THE compensation you need on a more expedited basis. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a settlement may not be the best move for everyone in every case. In some cases, depending on their particular facts, it may be better for you to go forward and litigate your case. An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you make these and other vital choices.

Take, as an example, the case of Craig, who worked for a farmers’ market in Reading. One summer day in 2014, Craig got hurt at work. The injured man wisely took prompt action, including filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. He also took a leave from work for roughly one week. Eventually, Craig made it back to work on August 26, but, two weeks later, the employer fired him.

Eight months after the injury, Craig and the employer resolved the workers’ compensation claim through something called a “Compromise & Release Agreement.” This type of agreement, sometimes called “C&R” for short, essentially formalizes the terms of the settlement of your workers’ compensation case.

police lightsWhen you are hurt on the job, you may have several different opportunities for recovery. There may be workers’ compensation benefits. There may be civil judgments. There may be insurance settlements. One of the keys to realizing a full and fair recovery is making sure that, if you get paid from multiple different sources, your employer doesn’t use this in an attempt to obtain reimbursement for things it paid, like workers’ compensation benefits. This is one of many ways in which experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers can help you.

One recent example of a worker receiving multiple payments was the case of Michael, a patrol officer for a police department in the greater Philadelphia area. In late November 2013, he was injured in a vehicle accident that took place while he was on duty. The employer acknowledged that the officer’s injury was compensable under workers’ compensation. Six weeks after the accident, Michael was back on the job, with no loss in earnings.

As a police officer, Michael was in a somewhat unique position. Pennsylvania has something called the Heart and Lung Act. This act calls for the payment of the full salaries of police officers and fire fighters who are disabled as a result of injuries incurred on duty. Police officers and fire fighters are eligible for benefits under both the Heart and Lung Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act. The workers’ compensation benefits you accrue while you’re receiving your full salary as Heart and Lung benefits, however, are turned over to your employer. In this case, the police department maintained separate accounts for paying workers’ compensation and Heart and Lung Act benefits. Michael received $9,100 of Heart and Lung benefits.