Client sitting with personal injury attorney

What Happens If I Don’t Reach a Settlement With the Insurance Company?

Life post-accident can be tough to say the least. There is the pain of injury, possibly missing work, and the likelihood that medical bills are already beginning to pile up. After you file your claim with the insurance company, you are likely to be waiting with bated breath for their response. Upon hearing that they want to make a settlement offer, you may feel renewed hope that things will wrap up quickly. Then, you get the settlement offer amount. The initial offer is likely to be disappointing and perhaps downright demoralizing. Do not lose hope! There are plenty more steps in the settlement process to help improve that initial offer. Furthermore, if you don not reach a settlement with the insurance company, it does not have to be the end of the road.

What Happens If I Don’t Reach a Settlement With the Insurance Company?

The settlement process usually kicks off with your attorney sending the insurance company a demand letter. The letter will detail the specifics of the accident and your resulting injuries. It will also present an initial asking offer to the insurance company. The company will then respond by either accepting the settlement offer, denying the claim altogether, or, most likely, countering with their own initial offer.

As previously stated, the initial offer from the insurance company is likely to be extremely low. It is often simply the starting off point of the settlement negotiation process. There will be a series of back and forth offer exchanges with the insurance company. In the majority of cases, a settlement is reached with the insurance company. Sometimes, however, settlement negotiations fall through. The insurance company refuses to pay out what your attorney believes to be a fair amount on the claim.

When you reach an impasse in the settlement negotiations, it is time to seriously discuss the possibility of taking the next step, which is taking your claim to court. In some cases, just filing the lawsuit can be enough to signal to the insurance company that you are serious about going the distance in pursuing your claim and they may increase the settlement offer as a result. Prior to taking the steps towards a full blown trial, however, there must be a very real and honest discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. Not all claims are suited to trial. There may be big liability questions or hurdles regarding whether the accident cause your injuries or whether they were preexisting. If your claim is strong enough to go to trial, then that will likely be your next step.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

The dedicated personal injury team at Cooper, Schall & Levy stand strong up against the big insurance companies. We are unwavering in our dedication to our clients. We are steadfast in our negotiations and fight for the compensation you deserve. After an accident, reach out to us for assistance.  Contact us today.

Railroad workers

Railroad Worker Injuries

U.S. railroads continue to be a critical means of transportation in this country. In addition to transporting goods far and wide, trains also provide passenger transportation to many each year. As such, railroad workers are of paramount important to the continued success of this important transportation system in the U.S. In recognition of both the important services provided by railroad workers and the fact that being a railroad worker can be an inherently dangerous occupation, particularly when there is any negligence in the workplace, there has been federal legislation passed to help injured railroad workers recover compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Railroad Worker Injuries

Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), railroad employees have the right to recover damages from their employer for job related injuries cause by negligence on the railroad’s part. In other words, railroad negligence, and that of its agents and employees which results in employee injury or death results in liability exposure. The resulting of cause of action can be brought in either state or federal court.

There are certain things that will need to be established in order for an injured railroad worker to recover compensation under the FELA. Primarily, the injured worker must be able to substantiate the claim that the railroad was negligent and that the negligence was the cause or contributing factor in the injury sustained by the worker. You see, the railroad is legally obligated to provide its workers with a reasonably safe work environment. When that work environment proves to be unsafe, this is likely to be considered negligence. So, if there are unsafe workplace practices occurring, the railroad will likely be found negligent and liable for any injuries that result from such unsafe practices.

FELA claimants, however, must be aware of the fact that the FELA does provide that railroad workers must use due care to help ensure their own safety. Failure to exercise due care may result in the injured worker being found contributorily negligent in causing the resulting injuries. This may impact the injured workers right to recover compensation.

If you are a railroad worker who has been injured on the job, you need to be aware of the fact that time is of the essence in bringing any claim under the FELA. The statute of limitations on these kinds of claims is three years from the time of the accident that resulted in the injuries. Failing to file before that three years is up will likely result in you being barred from bringing your claim at all.

If you are successful in bringing your FELA case, damages will be awarded accordingly. The bulk of these damages will be compensatory in nature as they are intended to compensate you from the harm you have suffered due to railroad negligence. Damages available under the FELA include:

  • Cost of past and future medical care
  • Loss of past and future wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are a railroad worker who has been injured in a workplace accident, do not hesitate to get in touch with the dedicated team at Cooper, Schall & Levy. We will begin immediately working on pursuing your right to monetary recovery for the harm you have suffered.  Contact us today.

trick or treaters at night

Pedestrian Accidents on Halloween Night

What are your Halloween plans? If you are like countless American families, those plans will include trick or treating. The number of pedestrians on the streets on Halloween night can be substantial, to say the least. There are also likely to be a greater number of vehicles on the road as people travel to and from parties and trick-or-treat spots. When you combine the increased number of pedestrians with the increased number of vehicles on the road and you also consider the fact that many may be distracted by all of the fanfare that comes with Halloween celebrations, you have a recipe for disaster. It is no wonder that pedestrian accidents on Halloween night are a persistent problem year after year. These accidents can have truly tragic results as victims suffer serious or even fatal injuries.

Pedestrian Accidents on Halloween Night

While there tend to be higher rates of pedestrian accidents on Halloween night, this does not always have to be the case. It does not mean that you or your loved ones have to be the victims in a pedestrian accident. There are concrete steps you can take to keep everyone safe and keep up the Halloween fun.

You may be disheartened, but not surprised, to hear that children are the most common injury victims in Halloween accidents. They are out in greater numbers on a busy night, full of distractions, limited visibility, and so many other factors that can contribute to the high numbers of pedestrian accidents that occur at this time. It is important to talk to your children about your plan for Halloween night and what you can all do to stay safe.

Staying in a group can be your best bet. After all, there is safety in numbers. Larger groups of people are easier to see out on the streets. You should also develop and communicate a plan for what path you will be taking for your trick-or-treating route. Knowing where you are going will avoid needless wandering and people straying from the set path.

You should also evaluate your kids’ costumes for safety measures. For instance, is the costume bright? Does it have any reflective parts? If not, consider adding a reflective strip and giving them a flashlight to hold. The reflective strip can make them easier to spot by motorists. The flashlight can help ensure they avoid tripping over roadway hazards. Also, check to make sure the length of the costume allows for safe walking and that any masks or headwear allows for a clear line of vision.

Try to stick to streets that have good lighting. If there is a sidewalk available, always use it. If there is no sidewalk, remain on the side of the roadway, towards its outer edges. Also, when you are looking to cross a roadway, always make use of crosswalks when available. Avoid cross in between parked cars as it does not give motorists a clear line of vision to you and can take them by surprise. Furthermore, never assume that a driver sees you. Always assume that they are not going to give you the right of way to cross the road.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Have a safe and fun Halloween. If you or someone you love ends up being injured on Halloween, you know you can count on the dedicated personal injury team at Cooper, Schall & Levy to help protect and enforce your legal rights. Contact us today.

Trick or treaters on halloween

How to Stay Safe and Prevent Injury on Halloween

Are you ready for Halloween fun? The weather is cooler, there are Fall festivities afoot, and the main event, trick or treat time, is just around the corner. Halloween seems to be getting bigger every year and we, for one, love to see it. With all the Halloween fun on the horizon, it is important to help ensure the good times roll by taking steps to keep every safe and injury free during this spooky season.

How to Stay Safe and Prevent Injury on Halloween

There are a number of things you can do to help stay safe and prevent injury this Halloween. With proper planning and vigilance, you can keep yourself and your family safe and enjoy all that this holiday has to offer. For starters, you can take a few costume considerations into account. For instance, visibility on Halloween can be critical to staying safe. Vehicles and others will be better able to see you and your children if your costumes involve some kind of bright or reflective clothing. Additionally, make sure a costume fits so that it is not too long which can easily lead to tripping. Hats and masks should allow for a clear field of vision and anytime you can avoid sharp accessories, such as swords or canes, it is probably going to be for the best.

At your home, you can help prepare for safe visits from trick-or-treaters. Clear your lawn of debris and tripping hazards, such as hoses, bikes, and more. Make sure your pets are properly restrained. Also, you should make sure your outdoor lights are working and replace any bulbs that may have burned out.

There is also a lot you can do to stay safe out there on your trick-or-treat journey. For starters, always accompany small children as they make their way house to house. If you have older kids that want to go off with friends, make a plan for them including when they should get home and where they will be trick or treating. Provide them with flashlights that will serve them well once the sun sets.

In making the rounds while trick or treating, being constantly aware of your surroundings is crucial. As much as possible, stay on well-lit streets. Always use sidewalks when available. Cross streets at marked sidewalks. Never assume a vehicle sees you and will give you the right of way. You should also take your cell phone with you for a quick means of communication. You can also make use of your phone’s flashlight once it gets dark.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

The personal injury team at Cooper, Schall & Levy wants you to have a ton of safe fun this Halloween. These are just a few simple things you can do to help ensure everyone remains accident and injury free. If someone else is less than vigilant and you or a loved one is injured as a result of their negligence, come to us so that we can fight to enforce your legal rights. Contact us today.

Woman sitting with doctor

Talking to Your Doctors About Accident Injuries

When you have been injured in an accident, getting proper medical treatment is going to be critical. It is going to be essential for your physical recovery. It is going to be of key importance to support any personal injury claim you bring. In order to help ensure you receive the proper medical care and you are fully compensated for all of your accident injuries, however, it is crucial for you to effectively communicate with your treating physicians.

Talking to Your Doctors About Accident Injuries 

Effective communication with your doctors about your accident injuries will dictate whether you receive the treatment you need to help resolve your accident injuries. It will also help ensure that you are properly compensated for the full extent of your injuries. This means that one of the most important things you should remember when talking to your doctor about your accident injuries is to be forthright and comprehensive. A stiff upper lip when talking about your injuries is rarely helpful. Trying to tough it out as opposed to being forthcoming about the pain and symptoms you may be experiencing will not serve your health or your accident injury claim well. Be clear about what you are feeling. This will help your doctor effectively treat you. It will also mean your injuries and the impacts of those injuries will be properly documented in your medical records which will be vital evidence to support your injury claim.

While candor is important, brevity is as well. Be clear and comprehensive in describing your injuries to your doctor, but avoid going on and on. Keeping things concise will help your doctor, nurses, and other treating medical professionals to more effectively take notes on what you are saying. With a flood of words all at once, it can be difficult to cut those notes down to the essentials. Lengthy discourse on your accident injuries can also end up with potentially conflicting statements you may have previously made. Keep things short and to the point.

Talking to your doctor is important and the importance of this communication is a two way street. Listen to your doctor and other medical professionals. If follow-up care is recommended, comply with this recommendation. This is also critical to recovering from your accident injuries as well as being important in supporting your claim for compensation for harm suffered as a result of the accident.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Doctors can be intimidating. You may feel like there are certain symptoms you are experiencing that are not worth mentioning. Let your doctor determine that. It is part of their job to do so and giving them the full picture of your injuries and how they have impacted your life is important to securing effective treatment. Let your doctors help you recover your health and let the trusted personal injury team at Cooper, Schall & Levy help pursue your right to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.  Contact us today.

Man dealing with finances

Financial Issues You May Face After an Accident

Being injured in a car accident can turn your life upside down. It can be both physically and emotionally traumatic. On top of all of this, the financial impacts that accident victims face are serious and range from the short term through the long term. With insurance companies fighting claims, denying claims, and constantly trying to undermine claims, it can be a scary time, finically, after an accident.

Financial Issues You May Face After an Accident

Immediately after being injured in a car accident, the financial effects will start to trickle in. Seeking medical treatment for your injuries is of paramount importance to your health as well as any personal injury claim you may pursue, but medical bills will quickly pile up. There may be an ambulance bill, hospital stay bill, bills for diagnostic testing, prescription medication costs and much more. It is also likely that you sustained property damage in the accident. There will be the cost to fix your car and you may need to pay for temporary transportation arrangements while your car is being fixed.

Your injuries may also take you out of working for the immediate future and beyond. You may just need to take some time off to recover for your injuries, but this in and of itself can prove financially challenging. If you were seriously injured to the point where you have become permanently disabled, you may not be able to return to your regular place of employment. You may need to take a different job that pays less. You may need to work reduced hours. Regardless, your earning capacity can be seriously impacted by accident injuries resulting in far reaching financial impacts.

Some accident victims find it difficult to make ends meet after an accident due to things like the cost of medical treatment and inability to return to work. Because of this, it is not uncommon for accident victims to borrow money to cover costs such as household expenses and medical bills. These loans, in turn, will charge interest and sometimes the interest rates are astronomical. This will put further financial strain on the borrower as they struggle with a difficult financial situation and work towards eventually repaying the loan plus interest. There may also be insurance rate increases for the accident victim regardless of whether or not they were found to be at fault in causing the accident.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Despite the physical, emotional, mental, and financial struggles an accident victim may go through, insurance companies are not likely to be sympathetic. At Cooper, Schall & Levy, we fight for accident victims and their right to be fairly compensated for the losses they have sustained in an accident caused by the negligence of someone else. We make sure insurance companies account for all of the physical and financial impacts an accident may have inflicted upon you. These are real and compensable damages and we fight to see that you are properly compensated. Contact us today.

Personal injury claim form

Filing an Insurance Claim After an Accident

No one ever wants to deal with an insurance company. No one ever wants to be in an accident. The fact of the matter is that accidents do happen. Subsequently, it is likely that you will have to work with an insurance company to help get compensated for your losses and harm suffered. If you have been injured in a car accident, you will likely want to file an accident claim with your insurer as well as the insurer for the at-fault party. Here, we’ll talk more about filing an insurance claim after being in an accident.

Filing an Insurance Claim After an Accident

After an accident, filing an insurance claim is your first step towards receiving compensation for losses you have incurred as a result of your accident injuries. This may include things like medical expenses and lost wages. There are two types of insurance claims that you may file after an accident: a first party claim and a third party claim. A first party claim is a claim you file with your own insurance carrier. A third party claim is one you file with the insurance carrier of someone else’s carrier, such as the at-fault party in the accident. What kind of claim you file after an accident will, thus, largely depend on who was at fault for the accident. It will also, however, depend on the available insurance coverage.

It can be important to file your insurance claims as soon as possible following an accident. You may also have a contractual obligation to inform your own insurance company that you were involved in an accident within a certain period of time. Contacting your insurance carrier promptly after an accident can help avoid your claim being subsequently denied because you failed to notify the insurance provider in a timely manner.

When you file a claim or report the accident to your insurance company or a third party company, you will likely be asked for details about the accident. This will usually include basic questions about where and when the accident occurred as well as what happened and the nature of any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. Subsequently, the insurance company will begin its investigation of your claim.

The claim investigation will not only involve looking into who was at fault for the accident, but it will also involve calculating a projected value of your claim. This will be determined by the amount of damages you have already sustained as well as a projection of future losses you are likely to sustain as well, such as loss of future earning capacity and cost of future medical care. If the insurance company offers a mutually agreeable settlement offer, you may accept it and a settlement check will be issued. Oftentimes, however, an insurance company will offer a settlement amount that fails to properly compensate an accident victim, and settlement negotiations ensue. If the company continues to refuse to make an agreeable settlement offer, you may wish to file a lawsuit.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Injured in an accident? The team at Cooper, Schall & Levy is here to fight for you. Contact us today.

Car speeding on the road

Summer Driving Hazards

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more car crashes and auto injuries, as well as fatalities, that occur in July and August. If you are hitting the road this summer for a family road trip, a trip to the beach, or just your everyday commute, be careful of the hazards that have come to be more uniquely associated with summer.

Summer Driving Hazards

With a change in the seasons, so should come a change in your driving habits. After all, the weather can have a big impact on your safety out on the road. For instance, the higher temperatures of the summer months can cause tire blowouts. The hot temperatures cause the air in tires to expand and, thus, more susceptible to a blowout. Even new, strong tires are not immune to this phenomenon. Checking your tire pressure frequently can help avoid this hazard as well as save wear on your car and can save you some gas money as well.

The heat of summer also leads to an increased chance of your engine overheating. An overheating engine can lead to your car breaking down or could even cause a fire. You can minimize the risk of an engine overheating by being diligent about checking your engine’s coolant levels, as well as the wear and connection of hoses and belts.

On top of the summer heat, there are also the summer rains to contend with. Rain and the subsequent flooding that can come with more severe summer showers can pose some serious dangers to those out on the road. These conditions mean limited traction that can impact a driver’s ability to effectively brake and control a vehicle. Drivers also tend to be more nervous and erratic in rainy conditions. To help stay safe during the summer rains, always be on high alert when a storm passes through. Reduce your speed and keep more space between yourself and other vehicles. Turn on your windshield wipers right away and make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. If not, replace them as soon as possible.

In addition to the heat and the rains of summer, it is also known in many parts of the country, the Philadelphia area included, as “construction season.” As the winter ice and snow is fully melted, summer presents the opportune time for things like road repairs and maintenance to happen throughout the northern states. Construction, however, can increase traffic jams, lead to detours, and involve other delays. With the roads in construction chaos, stay safe by slowing down, merging as early as possible when needed, and planning your route ahead of time to avoid construction areas.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are injured on the roads this summer, do not hesitate to call us at Cooper, Schall & Levy. Our dedicated personal injury team will help you get the compensation to which you are legally entitled. Contact us today.

Two drivers surveying a car accident

How Will Me Being Partially at Fault for the Accident Impact My Claim?

Sometimes, who is at fault for causing an accident is not clear cut. One person may not carry all of the blame. If you played a role in contributing to an accident, but you were still injured in the incident, you are likely worried about how being partially at fault will impact your claim and your right to recover compensation for your injuries. Every state has its own laws regarding comparative negligence, which is the right of an injured party to recover damages when carrying partial blame for causing an accident. Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws may have a significant impact on your right to pursue compensation after an accident. Find out more here.

How Will Me Being Partially at Fault for the Accident Impact My Claim?

States vary in how they handle an accident injury victim being partially at fault in causing an accident. Some states will even place a full bar to recovery should a person partially contribute to causing an accident. These are states that follow a contributory negligence approach to such situations. There are only four contributory negligence states. Anyone who is even a tiny bit responsible for an accident risks not being able to recover damages at all. You can see how contributory negligence states are favored by insurance companies and defendants alike.

Most states follow a comparative negligence approach as opposed to a contributory negligence approach. However, there are two different kinds of comparative negligence approaches: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. With pure comparative negligence, it does not matter how much fault a plaintiff may carry for an accident, they will still be able to recover damages. This means that even if a plaintiff was 99% at fault for an accident, they would remain eligible to receive compensation for their injuries. About one-third of states follow a pure comparative negligence approach.

With modified comparative negligence, there is a threshold set for the degree of fault a plaintiff can carry and still recover damages. Should a plaintiff carry a percentage of fault above the established limit, then they will be barred from recovering damages. The established threshold for this varies slightly among modified comparative negligence states. Some states follow the 50% rule where any party that is 50% or more at-fault for causing an accident will be unable to recover compensation for damages sustained in an accident. Other states follow a 51% rule where any party that is 51% or more at-fault for causing an accident will be unable to recover compensation for damages sustained in an accident.

Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state and follows the 51% rule. That means that you will be able to recover damages in an accident if you were less than 51% at fault. Be aware, however, that your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you end up being assigned. That means if you are found to be 20% at fault for an accident, you will be eligible for compensation, but your compensation awarded will be reduced by 20%.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Determining fault and percentage of fault in an accident can have a profound impact on the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive in a personal injury claim. At Cooper, Schall & Levy, we are experienced in handling the most complex of personal injury actions. We are dedicated to providing our clients with zealous and effective legal counsel. Contact us today.

Personal Injury attorney

Compensatory Damages

Have you heard of compensatory damages? If you or a loved one has ever been injured in something like a car accident or filed some other type of personal injury claim, you may have. Compensatory damages are a central part of a personal injury claim and one of the main, if not the sole, purpose of filing a claim, to begin with. You see, the aptly named “compensatory damages” are intended to compensate a plaintiff in a personal injury action for harm suffered, whether it be for an injury or other loss incurred as a result of the accident.

Compensatory Damages

While we are focusing here on compensatory damages in personal injury actions, compensatory damages are actually available in most, if not all, civil actions where someone has suffered a loss due to the negligence or unlawful conduct of someone else. As in a personal injury action, compensatory damages should be available when a plaintiff is able to prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, that duty was breached, and that breach of said duty caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.

Compensatory damages must be quantified, although some are easier to do so than others. Compensatory damages do, after all, include both economic and non-economic damages suffered by the plaintiff. Economic damages are those which are easier to quantify and are grounded in concrete numbers. Some examples of economic compensatory damages include:

  • Cost of medical care
  • Cost of future medical treatment
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses
  • Ambulance costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Increase in cost of living
  • Domestic services and nursing home care

To quantify these losses, you can look to bills, paychecks, and other supporting evidence. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, represent real harm suffered by a plaintiff but are more difficult to assign a price tag. Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of opportunity

It is critical to take care in accounting for all of your losses which may be included in your compensatory damage award. Once you are paid out on your claim, you will likely have to sign a release of future claims and will be unable to recover further on this specific claim. That means it is especially important to make sure you get full and fair compensation before you settle your claim. It is likely to be your only shot at recovery.

Compensatory damages will likely make up the bulk, if not all, of your damage award. In some rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages, however, are only awarded in exceptional cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious. When this is the case, the court may award punitive damages in order to punish the defendant and to deter future conduct such as one that led to the current plaintiff’s injuries.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Have you been injured in an accident? Talk to the knowledgeable team at Cooper, Schall & Levy about what damages may be available to you. Contact us today.