Common Questions for Personal Injury Cases

Whether you were hurt in a automobile collision or have permanent physical damage from a doctor's mistake during treatment, chances are you have questions about your legal rights to pursue compensation for your pain, suffering and medical bills.

The answers below may help resolve some of the initial questions you have about your particular accident, claim or injury. If you cannot find answers to your questions, please contact Attorney Comerota by phone, email or instant chat.

Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Injury Claims

I was injured in a car accident, do I have a case? There are 2 basic elements to look for: liability and damages. "Liability" deals with who is at fault for causing the accident. If you are more than 50% at fault, you do not have a case. If you are less than 50% at fault, you may still have a case but the value of your case will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. The second element to look for is "damages" or "injuries". If you did not sustain any injuries, you do not have a case.

Remember, each case is unique and there is no short answer to whether a person has a case or not.

How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit? Generally speaking, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. However, there are exceptions. For example, if you are under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, you have until 2 years after your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.

My accident occurred while commuting from New York City, can I sue in Pennsylvania? Generally, as long as the accident occurred in Pennsylvania or was caused by someone who resides in Pennsylvania, you can file your lawsuit in Pennsylvania State Court. This is true even if you are an out of state resident.

I was in an accident last week and the insurance company wants to settle with me. Should I accept the settlement check? I would not recommend jumping at the offer for 2 reasons.

First, by accepting the settlement check you will be prevented from receiving additional money in the future if your medical condition worsens. In other words, if your injuries are still not fully healed 6 months down the road, you cannot call up the insurance company and tell them you need more money.

Second, if you accept the settlement check, you will be required to sign a document known as a "Release". By signing the wrong kind of Release, you may forfeit your right to recover money from other people who may have contributed to the cause of the accident and, worse yet, claims for benefits you may have under your own insurance policy.

If a local police officer crashed his police cruiser into my car, can I still file a lawsuit? Yes, police officers must operate their vehicles safely just like everyone else. However, when suing a municipal authority such as a police department, you must place them on notice of your claim within 6 months of the accident.

If my husband or my wife was killed in a single car crash on a state road, do I have a case? Maybe, but it depends on the cause of the accident and gathering evidence as soon as possible is crucial. If the accident was caused by a defect in the roadway, the state of Pennsylvania has to be put on notice of a claim within 6 months of the date of the accident.

However, it is also possible that the accident was caused by negligent maintenance and repair of the vehicle. For example, if you just installed 2 brand new front tires that are not properly matched to the rear tires, this may cause your car to hydroplane, suffer a blown out tire or adversely affect the handling of your car thereby causing an accident.

Many people assume that since only 1 car was involved in the accident, there is no case. This is not always true. A lawyer who focuses his practice on personal injury claims should have the resources to investigate this type of case.

What should I do if I was in an accident and the other driver's insurance company wants to take my recorded statement? You are not obligated to give a recorded statement to the other insurance company. Usually, they take a recorded statement, try to use it against you when negotiating a settlement and then refuse to give you a copy when you ask for it.

What happens if I am in a car accident and the other driver did not have any insurance? You will need to review your own insurance coverage to see if you have a type of coverage called Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. If you purchased UM coverage, you will make a claim for benefits against your own insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits. There have been recent changes in Pennsylvania law regarding the way UM claims are litigated. Therefore, I would recommend consulting an experienced attorney to review the insurance policy language. If you don't have uninsured motorist coverage, then you should hope that the other driver is someone who is independently wealthy such as Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

How much money is my case worth? There is no precise formula for determining how much a case is worth. Every case is different. There are a number of things to consider when evaluating cases. Here are some of them:

  • The type of injuries you sustained.
  • How long you treated.
  • Whether you have fully recovered.
  • Whether you will need surgery.
  • Whether you are treating with specialists.
  • Whether you have any medical liens and/or unpaid medical bills.
  • Whether you will have future medical bills.
  • Whether you missed any time from work.
  • Whether you have lost wages.
  • Whether you will have future lost earnings.
  • Whether you have out of pocket expenses.
  • Whether there is a workers compensation lien.
  • Whether or not your injuries are new injuries, or old injuries that were aggravated by the accident.
  • Whether or not you are responsible for causing the accident and your injuries.

This list is merely to illustrate what goes into evaluating a case. However, by no means is this list meant to be complete. Some items on this list have more value than others. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you place a value on your case.

If I was hurt at work can I collect workers compensation benefits and file a lawsuit? It depends. If your injuries were caused by your employer's negligence, you cannot collect workers compensation benefits and file a lawsuit against your employer at the same time. If your injuries were caused by some other person, then you can make a workers compensation claim and file a lawsuit against the other person, however, any money you receive in the workers compensation claim may have to be repaid out of the proceeds from the lawsuit against the other person.

Can a lawsuit be filed if my son / daughter was killed in a car crash and the other driver was at fault? Yes. These kinds of lawsuits are commonly referred to as wrongful death actions or wrongful death lawsuits. They generally consist of a count for wrongful death and a count for survival. You can recover damages for hospital, medical, funeral, burial and estate administration expenses as well as for the contributions your child would have made to you during your child's lifetime. You can also recover for your child's physical pain and suffering she endured prior to her death, her loss of earnings and earning capacity and the loss of the pleasures she would have experienced had she lived out the duration of her normal life expectancy.

Are there any precautions I can take now so that if I die in a car accident, my wife and children are protected? This is a great question and there are a few things you can do.

First, review your own auto insurance policy and make sure you have adequate Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. You cannot always rely on the other driver to have adequate liability insurance and UM and UIM insurance coverage will provide some money to provide for your family in your absence.

Second, you should consider estate planning and at the very least have a Last Will and Testament. You can find a sample of a very simple Will right here on my website. I will gladly assist you in drafting a Last Will and Testament if you need a Will or if you need to update your existing Will.

Third, you should consider purchasing life insurance.

If my insurance company is treating me unfairly how do I make a complaint with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department? The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has a complaint form on their website Here is a direct link to the complaint form.


If you have been injured you probably have a lot of questions, such as:

  • How much money is my accident case worth?
  • How do I know if the settlement offer from the insurance company is fair?
  • What should I tell my insurance adjustor?
  • What if the person who caused the accident does not have any insurance?
  • When should I hire an attorney?

To find out the answers to these questions call me for a free-consultation or order my FREE BOOK: "Personal Injury Cases - 7 Potholes to Avoid".

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