Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers
If you have been injured in an accident, your focus needs to be on your physical and emotional recovery. You need the time to heal, and you need to be able to devote your time to restoring your personal wellbeing. At Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our Bethlehem personal injury lawyers understand what it is like to go through a serious accident. We have been serving the legal needs of accident victims in Bethlehem, PA for more than 30 years, and during that time we have been privileged to help your neighbors win the compensation they deserved. If you have an accident claim, we can protect your rights, too, and we encourage you to contact us at (610) 882-9456 for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case today.
Experienced Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers for Accidents, Negligence and More
When you need to seek compensation for accident-related injuries, experience matters. In most cases, you will be dealing with a major insurance company, and these big corporations have teams of lawyers, investigators and claims adjusters who get paid to minimize accident victims’ financial recoveries. Our personal injury lawyers know what it takes to effectively deal with the insurance companies’ tactics, and our law team is made up of experienced litigators who will not hesitate to take the insurance companies to trial.
We regularly represent clients in Bethlehem and throughout Pennsylvania who have been injured and lost family members due to:
At Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, every case starts with a free, no-obligation consultation. We invite you to bring your questions, and we are happy to walk you through the steps you should be taking to help protect your rights. Then, if you choose to work with us, our Bethlehem personal injury lawyers will take swift, aggressive action that is custom-tailored to your situation in order to help you win just compensation as quickly as possible. Since we handle all personal injury cases on a contingency-fee basis, it costs you nothing out of pocket to put our experience on your side.
Our Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers Will Guide You Through the Litigation Process
Personal injury litigation has multiple stages through which your attorney will guide you. Each of these stages — pre-trial, trial, and post-trial — involves different responsibilities and expectations. The successful resolution of your injury claims requires an understanding of the process and how to set yourself up for a favorable result at any given phase.
Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, we understand that the litigation process can seem overwhelming. It’s certainly not a comfortable situation for injury plaintiffs to explore for the first time — after all, the process may seem rather tense, arcane, and uncertain. Our team of experienced Bethlehem personal injury lawyers is standing by to help you navigate the litigation process effectively. We pride ourselves on keeping clients informed every step of the way so that their goals, preferences, and concerns can be fully prioritized.
Let’s take a brief look at the different stages of the personal injury litigation process and what your attorney will do to serve your interests.
Claim preparation involves the initial evidence-gathering (i.e., medical records, employment records, police reports, etc.), evaluations, and negotiations with insurers/defendants. If the case is promising, then the attorney may investigate the accident scene further.
At this phase, our Bethlehem personal injury lawyers will use what information is available to them to determine the initial case strategy: in other words, which defendants to sue, and what claims to bring against those defendants.
Assuming that the defendant is unwilling to settle early, your injury claims will be filed as part of a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania court. The filing must occur before the statute of limitations deadline has passed (otherwise, you may lose your right to sue and recover in court).
Though trial will be scheduled, there is still ample time for negotiations — and it’s quite likely that the case will settle before trial.
The Discovery Process
Discovery is the process through which each party requests additional information from the other side, whether in the form of testimonial admissions or by presenting documentation.
It is through discovery that “private” and “unknown” information is revealed. As such, it is quite important and can often change the entire course of litigation. If skilled discovery forces the defendant to produce documents that essentially prove their liability, then it’s much more likely that they will settle.
Settlement and Alternative Dispute Resolution
The vast majority of cases are resolved pre-trial through settlement and/or alternative dispute resolution (i.e., mediation, arbitration, etc.). Many parties prefer alternative dispute resolution to trial, as it tends to be less costly, less formal, and less hostile overall.
Depending on the case, however, if alternative dispute resolution is not leading to a favorable result, then the proceedings might move forward towards trial.
A trial is a complex event with many moving parts. Jurors will have to be selected, expert witnesses hired to testify, and comprehensive arguments laid out to be argued before the court. At the end of the trial process, a judgment will be rendered.
If the judgment was problematic and unreasonable, then you may decide to appeal the decision — though that will involve further preparations, time, and expenses. If you are satisfied with the judgment, then the monetary award will have to be collected from the defendant(s).
Civil Law vs. Criminal Law FAQs: Our Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers Answer Your Questions
What is Civil Law?
A personal injury claim is a type of “civil” case. Civil law cases deal with disputes between two private parties; in other words, between individuals; between an individual and an entity, such as a corporation; or between two entities. Civil law cases include such legal disputes as breach of contract, product liability, premises liability, dog attacks, and all manner of accidents, such as automobile or truck accidents.
What is Criminal Law?
Criminal law cases deal with individuals who break the law or commit crimes. Even entities such as corporations can be criminally charged because a corporation can be considered a “person” for purposes of criminal law. Criminal cases include, for example, DUIs, theft, assault, and battery. These laws are set out in a state’s criminal statutes.
Are There Any Disputes That Are Both Civil and Criminal?
Yes. Some defendant behaviors constitute violations of both civil law and criminal law. For example, assault, battery, and even homicide can be punished both civilly and criminally. The Bethlehem personal injury lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis can help you determine whether your legal issue involves civil law, criminal law, or both.
Who Are the Parties Involved?
Both types of cases include defendants; in other words, the person or entity being sued or being criminally arrested and charged. In civil law, there is also a plaintiff. The plaintiff is the person or entity bringing the lawsuit. In criminal law, the government or state is called the prosecution and is litigating against the defendant on behalf of the community.
What are the Potential Punishments for the Defendant?
In civil law, the punishment for a defendant found “liable” is usually in the form of cash awards but may also include some type of court order requiring the defendant to change certain behaviors. Civil law does not result in incarceration. In criminal law, a defendant who has been found guilty, or who has pled guilty, may also face money consequences called restitution. Or a defendant can be ordered to complete substance abuse rehab. Of course, criminal defendants can also face incarceration or probation.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The “burden of proof,” speaks to how convincingly the parties must be when proving their case. In Pennsylvania civil law cases, parties have the burden of proving their claim or defense by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means the claim is more likely than not to be true. In criminal cases, the crime must be proved by the government “beyond any reasonable doubt.”
Can Cases Be Settled?
In civil cases, the issues being litigated overwhelmingly settle out of court at some time during the civil process, from the time the defendant first learns of the grievance brought by the plaintiff all the way up to just moments before a jury gives its verdict. In criminal cases, the parties do not “settle.” There are, of course, plea bargains that both parties agree to, but these are not true settlements because the court has the discretion to reject them.
Get to Know the Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC
Founded in 1985, Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC is a Pennsylvania law firm comprised of attorneys and legal professionals who are committed to making a difference in their community. Having represented thousands of clients, trial attorneys are recognized for their experience, and they are trusted for their long record of successful results. Our attorneys have been named Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, but the accolades of which we are most proud are the kind words shared by our valued clients.
The Role of Fault in Pennsylvania Injury Claims
Different states have different ways of approaching fault and damages in personal injury cases. Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state. This means that a plaintiff (the harmed party) or their Bethlehem personal injury lawyers is able to bring a lawsuit for recovery for damages even if the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the accident. However, the amount the plaintiff is able to recover is diminished by the amount they are considered to be at fault. For example, if a plaintiff sustained damages in the amount of $120,000, but they were 20% at fault, they will only be able to recover $96,000 ($120,000-$24,000).
The 50% Recovery Bar
Pennsylvania law maintains a plaintiff is only able to recover for damages in a personal injury case when their negligence “was not greater than the casual negligence of the defendant or defendants against whom recovery is sought.” In other words, if the plaintiff is determined to be more than 50% at fault in the accident that caused the damages, they are barred from any financial recovery.
When you meet with one of our Bethlehem personal injury lawyers, they will review your case with you to ensure you will be able to recover compensation for your injuries before filing litigation.
Types of Damages Available In Bethlehem Personal Injury Cases
Once it has been determined that you should be able to recover from your injuries, the next question that needs answering is what type of damages, and in what amount, will you be able to recover.
The amount you will be allowed to recover will depend on the extent of your injuries, who caused your injuries, and whether or not your injuries are the result of negligence or willful conduct on behalf of the defendant(s). Your attorneys will be able to give you a more customized expectation of your recovery amount.
There are generally three types of damages that constitute the total amount you are able to recover. These include:
Economic damages are actual damages that you have incurred and they are usually fairly simple to prove. For example, the costs associated with your medical expenses are economic damage, and you should be able to prove them with a copy of your hospital bill. Other types of economic damages include:
- Prescription medication costs
- Lost earnings
- Cost of transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
Non-economic damages, although just as real as economic damages, are much more difficult to prove. These damages cannot be verified with a receipt and proving them in court often requires the skill of experienced Bethlehem personal injury lawyers. These damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases as they are meant to punish and discourage a certain type of conduct in the future. Therefore, simple negligence by the defendant is not enough. You must be able to prove that their conduct was intentional, reckless, or malicious.
Schedule Your Free, No-Obligation Consultation Today
If you would like to speak with an accident lawyer in Bethlehem, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to listen and help you understand your options. To schedule your free, no-obligation with one of our experienced attorneys, call (888) 777-7098 or get in touch with us online today.
Madison Executive Center
1 West Broad Street, 11th floor
Bethlehem, PA 18018