If you've been injured in an accident, you may not know how to make sure you are compensated for your injuries. If someone else caused the accident that resulted in bodily injury or damage to your property, then they should be responsible for paying for the damages. However, you may have to take legal action to make sure you get the recovery you deserve.
Small Claims or Civil Court
There are generally two ways to start the claims process for an injury case in Philadelphia. The first way involves hiring an attorney to handle the legal claim on your behalf. Your personal injury attorney will handle all aspects of your case, from filing, to negotiations, to fighting for you in court, including making sure you get paid. In most cases, an experienced and professional personal injury attorney will take your case with no fees upfront. They will only get paid once you win your case and get the compensation you deserve.
The other way of starting a claim in an injury case is to try and do all the work yourself. This usually involves filing a case in small claims court. Filing a small claims case limits the amount of money you can recover for your injuries. It also involves understanding the legal process, the court rules, and the obligations of pro se representation. Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating parts of winning a small claims court case is getting the defendant to pay for the damages. Just because you win your small claims court case does not mean the responsible party will just cut you a check. You may have to take further action to enforce a judgement.
If you are unsure of whether to start your claims process on your own or to enlist an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, consider taking advantage of a free consultation. Experienced and professional personal injury attorneys may offer a no-cost consultation to talk to you about your case. They will let you know whether you may have a case, and help you decide whether to go forward with your claim. This will also let you feel out the attorney, to see if they would be a good fit for you. You want the right attorney who takes your case seriously, who listens to your concerns, and will fight to make sure you get the justice you deserve.
If you have a personal injury attorney handling your case, one of the first things they will do is conduct an in-depth interview with you. They will talk about what happened, who was involved, and what kind of damages resulted. This will help them to gain an overall picture of what your case looks like, and how to file the claim.
In most personal injury cases, your lawyer will file the case with the Courts of Common Pleas. This is the primary trial court of general jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The initial filing documents will include “pleadings.” The pleading includes the complaint, which sets forth the causes of action against the known and unknown individuals who may be responsible for the injury or accident.
The pleadings are important because they are the first step in what may be a long legal process. The complaint may be required to ensure that the case was filed within the required time limit, or statute of limitations. If you wait too long to file your case, you may be barred from recovery by the statute of limitations. This is another reason you should speak with your Philadelphia personal injury attorney as soon as you can, to make sure your case is filed in time.
Small Claims Court
If you are sure that your case is not worth more than $12,000, you may decide to file your case in small claims court. However, it is important to consider all of the costs of an injury. Additionally, a plaintiff may not be able to file a small claims suit against all defendants in the Philadelphia Municipal Court system. They generally cannot file claims against the Commonwealth, including SEPTA-related injuries.
$12,000 may seem like a lot of money for some accidents, but the true costs to you and your family may be much higher. Damages for even a minor injury may include costs for healthcare, surgery, medications, emergency room treatment, medical transport, physical therapy, time off of work, missed schooling, pain and suffering, emotional damages, and even take a toll on your family. These costs may soon add up to more than $12,000. If the case is filed in small claims court, the plaintiff may not be able to recover all their damages.
A small claims court case begins with filing a “Statement of Claim.” This involves providing information about the plaintiff, defendant, contact information, and reason the plaintiff is seeking money damages. It also includes a section for detailing the amount of money claimed in the lawsuit. Make sure you are fully aware of the court rules, fees, and other requirements before filing a small claims case. You may be able to find additional information from the Philadelphia Courts website.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
An experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the process and advise you of each step to take along the way. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone's negligence, please do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.