What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit? And Should You File one?

By Dennis L Plank, Attorney

Personal-Injury-Lancaster-County-PennsylvaniaWhile accidents happen, not all accidents warrant a legal response. However, some injuries are the result of careless or irresponsible behavior. When people, businesses, organizations, corporations, or government agencies do not take reasonable care to keep people safe and free from harm, they are legally responsible when someone is hurt as a result of their negligence. When you or a loved one are injured because of someone else’s carelessness, you have legal recourse to seek financial compensation for resulting medical bills, expenses, loss of work, loss of future work, for resulting legal expenses, and in some cases, for pain and suffering.

What Exactly is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When you are harmed in an accident and you believe that the application of reasonable safety measures could have prevented your injury, you should explore your legal options. Sometimes personal injury lawsuits require a trial, but more often, an experienced personal injury attorney can settle without a trial by negotiating a financial settlement early in the process.

In a formal lawsuit, an individual, referred to as a “plaintiff” files a complaint against the person, business, corporation, organization, or government agency that is responsible for their injury (the “defendant.”) Usually the plaintiff is represented by a lawyer, and the defendant often hires a personal injury attorney to defend them against claims.

However, many personal injury cases do not start as a formal lawsuit. A personal injury attorney at Going and Plank, for example, would pursue a settlement with the insurers or attorneys representing the defendant. A settlement is a form of negotiation, which allows the defendant to forgo a lengthy lawsuit in favor of the immediate payment of an agreeable sum of money. If a settlement is not reached quickly, sometimes the process is moved into an alternative dispute resolution process like mediation and arbitration.

What Kinds of Accidents are Eligible for a Personal Injury Settlement?

Many types of accidents and injuries are covered under personal injury laws, including injuries sustained in car, truck, motorcycle, bus, or bike accidents, including injuries sustained if you are a pedestrian. Injuries sustained as a result of drunk driving may also fall under personal injuries statutes. If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, we offer free consultations to evaluate your case.

Per Pennsylvania laws, your ability to seek pain and suffering damages in auto accidents, even those resulting in death, may be affected by the type of auto insurance you hold. Consult a Going and Plank lawyer for more details.

If you’re injured on public or private transportation including buses, trains, boats, or airplanes, you may be eligible for compensation. You should contact Going and Plank for a free evaluation of your case.

Personal injury claims can also be made if you have been hurt in an office, in a factory, on a construction site, or on any company-owned or government-owned property, including harm resulting from tripping, falling, or slipping due to incomplete or inadequate property maintenance, including potholes. In some case, attacks by domesticated animals are also covered. Going and Plank offers free consultations to discuss your case.

What Types of Injuries Qualify for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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Every case is different, and not all people who have sustained injuries will be eligible for a personal injury settlement. Some people realize injuries immediately, but others don’t realize the extent of their injuries until days or weeks after the accident. You should contact The Law Offices of Going and Plank in Lancaster to schedule a free consultation to find out if you can be compensated for the time and money lost as a result of the following types of injuries:

  • Bone fractures
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Development of back pain
  • Development of neck pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Deep lacerations
  • Physical disfigurement and scarring
  • Severe burns
  • Cranial or skull damage
  • Brain injury, cognitive impairment, or harm to mental acuity
  • Loss of body parts
  • Damage to mobility or dexterity
  • Damage to eyesight
  • Damage to hearing
  • Dental damage
  • Injuries that prohibit you from doing your job, or require you to find a new profession
  • Death

How Quickly Must You Decide to File a Lawsuit? 

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases allows plaintiffs two years, from the date of the injury, to file a personal injury lawsuit. Often the extent and impact of your injuries may not be immediately apparent. That’s why Pennsylvania law allows 24 months to allow victims to assess the impact of your injury, such as long-term medical issues, loss of ability to work, money lost because of time off work, and medical bills.

However, if you are thinking of making an injury claim against a government agency, such as a city, a county, or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, exceptions apply, and the law is not as generous on timelines. You must file an intent to sue a government agency within six months of your injury or accident.

Does Going and Plank Offer Free Evaluations for Personal Injury Cases?

Going and Plank does offer free consultations to discuss your personal injury case. You can quickly get a sense of whether your case is valid, and what kind of compensation you may receive, without incurring fees or requiring a down payment. Our legal teams work on your case on a contingency basis. That means that if we take your case, you pay us with a percentage of the monetary settlement that you receive. If you don’t receive money from your case, you won’t be charged for the work done on your behalf. Contact us today to discuss your personal injury case, and make sure you’re compensated fairly.

5 Questions to ask if You’re Considering Bankruptcy

Dennis-Plank-Lancaster-County-Attorney-PA By Dennis Plank, Attorney

If you’ve been struggling with a mountain of debt, you may be considering bankruptcy as one way to remedy your financial challenges. Bankruptcy is a good solution for many people in Lancaster County, but it is not right for everyone. Each person’s issues and needs vary, so you may want to consult a bankruptcy attorney before making your final decision.

As you consider your financial options, there are some questions many clients ask. If you wonder if bankruptcy is right for you, take some time to consider these questions, and see if they apply to your situation.

Will I Have to Liquidate my Assets if I Declare Bankruptcy?

Every situation is different, but bankruptcies usually don’t require you to sell everything to pay off debts. Much depends on whether you will file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Your income and personal situation will dictate whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, but in both types of bankruptcy, certain classes of property are exempt. Contact the team at Going and Plank and we’ll explain how property is treated in bankruptcy, and give you all the facts before you make a decision.

Is it Too Late to File Bankruptcy?

People often wait to file bankruptcy, hoping they may be able to convince creditors to hold off until they can repay their debt. That’s why some people are surprised by notices of foreclosure, repossession or lawsuits. Even if you’ve been served notice, it’s not too late to declare bankruptcy. In emergency situations, Going and Plank can often file an emergency bankruptcy, that allows us to stop actions like foreclosure, repossession, eviction, garnishment of wages, or lawsuits. An emergency bankruptcy stops legal actions against you and allows you time to get all the required filings and paperwork in order.

Emergency bankruptcies can help you if you are facing;

  • Foreclosure

  • Car repossessions

  • Eviction

  • Garnishment of wages

  • Lawsuits

Contact Going and Plank to discuss your options, and find out if an emergency bankruptcy makes sense for your situation.

Can Bankruptcy Help Eliminate Medical Bills?

Over 700,000 households declared bankruptcies last year, and many of those were due to the financial consequences of overwhelming medical expense and long-term illness. Having health insurance doesn’t mean you won’t be hit with huge medical bills. If a wage-earner is out of work or ill for long periods of time, financial hardships can be multiplied.

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That’s why, after a major or long-term illness, some people find they are facing insurmountable amounts of medical debt. While medical debt can be reduced or even eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in Chapter 13, it may be restructured into more manageable payments.

If you feel overwhelmed by medical debt, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 may be a smart way to manage or eliminate debt.

Do I Have to Take a Credit Counseling Course?

The short answer is yes. No matter what type of bankruptcy is filed, Pennsylvania state law requires you to complete a credit counseling course with an approved agency. These mandatory courses are designed to help you evaluate and reformat your finances in ways that help you understand ways to pay down debt and avoid bankruptcies in the future. Going and Plank can connect you with a course that meets the state requirements.

What Happens After Bankruptcy?

Many clients wonder if they will be able to refinance mortgages or get a mortgage after declaring bankruptcy. Other are concerned about bankruptcy’s effect on their credit rating. The answers to those inquiries depend on the type of bankruptcy filed and if debts were eliminated or if a repayment plan was formed.

Bankruptcies do affect your ability to refinance a  mortgage or get approved for a new mortgage. As of this writing, you should be able to refinance or obtain a new mortgage two years after declaring bankruptcy, but underwriting requirements and legislation change frequently so this timeframe may change.

Your bankruptcy will be reported to a credit agency and can stay on your credit report for up to ten years. You will find that it will take time to regain a good credit score. But for many people bankruptcy provide a fresh start for their personal finances. By relieving some types of debt, eliminating some debt, and restructuring other types of debt, bankruptcy can give you the time and space you need to change your financial outlook.

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While it may seem like a bankruptcy lawyer is just another expense, an experienced bankruptcy lawyer is dedicated to helping you find the financial solutions that make the most sense for your situation. In addition to helping you through a complicated, paper-intense process, a bankruptcy attorney can steer you away from activities that may be seen as deceitful or fraudulent.

The team at Going and Plank can also help you determine which type of bankruptcy is right for you, help you protect your most important assets, and help you map out an improved financial future. Contact us today for a free consultation, and find out if bankruptcy makes sense for you

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