Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C.

Personal Injury Claims, a Guide to Your Rights

Participation in our legal system is the only way that we can guarantee that the administration of justice will continue to be available to all of our citizens, rich and poor, strong and weak. By pursuing your rights, you strengthen our system of justice and secure its benefits for your children and your children's children.

Like all areas of the law, the requirements, statutes, and limitations for personal injury lawsuits change periodically. If you have questions concerning anything you read here, or about your rights in general, please contact us via email or contact our Personal Injury Hotline at 1-800-471-3980. A serious personal injury can be devastating not only to you, but to your family and work life; our personal injury attorneys will take the work and worry of pursuing a claim off your shoulders so that you can focus on getting better.

For more information, please click on one of the topics below:

  1. What are my rights if I am involved in a motor vehicle accident?
    1. Full Tort V. Limited Tort
    2. Uninsured and underinsured coverage:
    3. Will making an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim cause my premiums to go up?
    4. What if I own more than one automobile, can I "stack" the amount of uninsured or underinsured coverage that I have so as to increase my coverage?
    5. What do I do if I am involved in an automobile accident and the other driver's insurance adjuster phones me?
    6. How long do I have to make a claim for injuries that I sustained in an automobile accident?
  2. Injuries sustained as a result of defective products:
    1. Will worker's compensation interfere with my right to make a claim if I am injured by a defective product at work?
    2. What do I do with the product that caused the injury?
  3. Medical negligence:
    1. Do I have a right to be informed about the nature of surgery and possible adverse results or dangers of the proposed surgery?
    2. Claims against health maintenance organizations (HMOs):
  4. How long do I have to bring a claim for medical negligence?
  5. Conclusion

  1. What are my rights if I am involved in a motor vehicle accident?
    1. Full Tort V. Limited Tort
      • Whether you are entitled to make a claim for injuries sustained in an automobile accident may depend on events that happened months or even years before the accident occurred. Whenever you purchase automobile insurance in Pennsylvania, you are required to make a very important decision. That decision will oftentimes control your ability to recover damages for bodily injuries sustained in an automobile accident. You must decide whether to purchase "limited tort" coverage or "full tort" coverage.
      • "Limited tort" coverage means that you, and certain members of your family, have given up your right to seek damages from a wrongdoer for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages sustained in an automobile accident unless there is "serious injury."
      • "Full tort" coverage means that you keep your right to seek all damages that the law allows, including pain and suffering for injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
      • There are certain exceptions in the law where a person who has purchased limited tort coverage can regain his full tort status. The exceptions are technical and beyond the scope of this pamphlet. Therefore, if you are involved in an automobile accident, and need legal advice, let us evaluate your claim, whether you have full tort or limited tort coverage. Nonetheless, we recommend that you purchase Full Tort coverage for all of your automobiles.
    2. Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage:
      • Uninsured coverage is coverage that you purchase from your automobile insurance carrier which provides protection to you when you are injured in an automobile accident and the individual who injured you does not have automobile insurance.
      • Underinsured coverage is coverage that you purchase from your automobile insurance carrier which provides protection to you under circumstances where you are injured in an automobile accident and the individual who injured you does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate you for all of your damages.
      • Uninsured and underinsured coverage are very important. The incidence of people driving on our highways without insurance or with low levels of insurance is alarming. By purchasing uninsured and underinsured coverage you provide protection for yourself, and certain members of your family, even when the wrongdoer is not insured or not adequately insured.
      • Uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage must be purchased from your carrier. "Full coverage" does not necessarily mean you have uninsured and underinsured coverage. Check your policy or call your agent and make sure you have uninsured and underinsured coverage on your automobile insurance policy.
    3. Will making an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim cause my premiums to go up?
      • Making an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim will not cause your premiums to go up. However, your premiums can be increased by your carrier if you are found to be at fault.
    4. What if I own more than one automobile, can I "stack" the amount of uninsured or underinsured coverage that I have so as to increase my coverage?
      • Yes, you can increase the amount of uninsured or underinsured motorist protection that you have by stacking the coverage for two or more insured automobiles that you own, provided that your insurance policy provides for stacking. Therefore, it is our recommendation that you advise your insurance agent that you wish to "stack" your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage whenever you have two or more insured automobiles.
    5. What do I do if I am involved in an automobile accident and the other driver's insurance adjuster phones me?
      • If you are involved in an automobile accident and the other driver's insurance adjuster contacts you, we recommend that you not answer any questions and refer the adjuster to us. The adjuster is a trained professional who is in the business of protecting the interests of the insurance company. You may inadvertently jeopardize your rights to full benefits under the law if you talk to the adjuster. When an insurance adjuster contacts you after you are involved in an automobile accident, give him or her our phone number. We will talk to the adjuster and make sure that your claim is protected.
    6. How long do I have to make a claim for injuries that I sustained in an automobile accident?
      • Claims for injuries sustained in an automobile accident are governed by a statute of limitations that will run out two years from the date of the accident. A prompt and thorough investigation is best conducted close in time to the accident. Therefore, it is important that you contact us as soon as you can following the automobile accident.
  2. Injuries sustained as a result of defective products:
      • Manufacturers and suppliers of products are governed by a special area of the law. Essentially, the manufacturer or the supplier of a product "guarantees" that the product is safe. The manufacturer or supplier will be liable for injuries caused by any defective condition in its product, even if the manufacturer or supplier exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of the product.
      • This area of the law provides injured people with important rights that should always be considered when a product causes injury.
    1. Will worker's compensation interfere with my right to make a claim if I am injured by a defective product at work?
      • Worker's compensation does not bar your right to make a claim against the manufacturer or the seller of a defective product, even if you are injured at work. Worker's compensation only bars lawsuits against your employer. When you are injured by a defective product at work, you may still make a claim for damages against "third parties," such as the manufacturer or supplier of the defective product.
    2. What do I do with the product that cause the injury?
      • Be sure to keep the product after it has caused an injury. This includes any parts of the product that may have broken or fallen off. Claims against manufacturers or suppliers of products are often dismissed by the Courts where the injured person is not able to produce the defective product.
  3. Medical malpractice:
      • Injuries caused to a patient by a physician can give rise to a claim for damages against the physician. A physician must exercise all the knowledge and skill in caring for a patient which is usually exercised in the medical profession by other doctors. This is known as the "standard of care." Whenever a physician fails to follow the standard of care, and a patient is harmed because of that failure, the physician is liable for the damages sustained.
      • Whether a physician is liable for the injury usually requires a two step analysis. The first step involves a medical question. In order to answer the medical question, we must consult with a physician, usually one who practices within the same specialty as the physician who is being charged. The physician with whom we consult will provide the necessary medical expertise in order to determine whether the standard of care has been breached. The second step involves a legal question. Even when a physician breaches the standard of care, the law will not provide a remedy unless we can establish that the breach was a "legal cause" of the patient's harm. Therefore, careful analysis of claims of medical negligence involves both the law and medicine. If you would like to discuss a claim of medical negligence with one of our attorneys, give us a call. We will be happy to talk with you and answer any questions you may have.
    1. Do I have the right to be informed about the nature of surgery and possible adverse results or dangers of the proposed surgery?
      • A physician will be liable for damages that result from performing a surgical procedure on a patient without first obtaining the patient's "informed consent." An informed consent involves a discussion between the doctor and the patient of what may happen after the surgery, possible adverse results or dangers of the proposed procedure, as well as advice concerning alternative methods of treatment that may be available.
      • The physician is bound to disclose to the patient all of this information prior to proceeding with the surgery.
      • There is no substitute for an honest and frank discussion with a physician that you trust. Don't be intimidated by your physician. A good physician will be happy to talk with you and discuss any concerns that you may have about a proposed surgical procedure.
    2. Claims against health maintenance organizations (HMOs):
      • Health Maintenance Organizations, commonly known as HMOs, have become a fact of life. To a large extent, a health maintenance organization will control the quality of the care that you receive. Oftentimes, a physician will refer the patient for certain testing or for procedures that assist the physician in forming a diagnosis and treatment plan. An HMO often limits the testing and procedure a patient will receive by refusing to pay for tests and procedures, even if your physician believes them to be appropriate. Whenever an HMO deprives a patient of necessary testing or procedures, and the patient is harmed as a result, the HMO may be liable for injuries sustained by the patient.
      • This is a new and developing area of law in Pennsylvania. Traditionally, HMOs have defended such cases by saying that they are insurance carriers and that they do not practice medicine. Therefore, they argue that they are not subject to the law of medical negligence. However, courts have seen through this argument and recognize the fact that by refusing to pay for necessary testing and procedures, the HMO is essentially interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. Under these circumstances, the courts have allowed claims against the HMO under theories that have been traditionally reserved for physicians.
    3. How long do I have to bring a claim for medical negligence?
      • A claim for medical negligence must be brought within two years from the date that the negligence occurred or within two years from the date that the patient knew, or should have known of his/her claim for medical negligence. Therefore, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as you believe that you may have been the victim of medical negligence, even if you discover the negligence after two years have passed.
  4. Conclusion
    • Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. is a law firm which represents injured people. If you, a loved one, friend or acquaintance are injured through no fault of your own, contact our personal injury department to discuss your case. Also, remember that you only pay costs and our attorney fee if we are successful in obtaining money for you.

Contact Us: 1-800-471-3980

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