Mediation in Personal Injury Cases

When you’ve been injured by someone else’s mistake, the long legal process that follows with insurance and lawyers can feel frustrating. Getting your injuries treated, dealing with medical bills and health insurance, and talking with an insurance representative about the value of your injury can add mental anguish to the physical pain you are experiencing.

One mechanism that our attorneys employ for getting the best settlement for our clients in a quicker manner is to pursue a mediation instead of going to court. This is a process where instead of going and having a trial in front of a judge or a jury, the attorneys on both sides of the case can meet with a mediator and try to resolve the case amicably.

A mediation involves hiring a third party, usually a retired judge or an attorney, to help both parties try to find a resolution they can agree on. These settlements usually involve a lot of compromise. As mediators often say, “A good settlement in a mediation is one that no one is totally happy with.” Usually, the insurance company pays a little more than it might otherwise have agreed to short of trial because they know how much a trial will cost them and that there is a risk that a jury gives a big award. The injured person may take a little less than they could have gotten at trial to avoid the additional months or years it would take to get money from the case.

Compromise might sound bad at first, but when you consider that mediations are less expensive and quicker than trials, injured clients often find that it’s best to take even a little bit less than they feel they could have gotten after a trial if they can get the money now and move on with their life. Mediations don’t always require compromise—sometimes it’s the perfect tool to help the insurance company see how serious the plaintiff’s injuries are and to get the case resolved.

Mediation is not the same as arbitration, which is a different mechanism we’ve talked about in other articles. Arbitration is less about compromise and is more like having a trial earlier in the process without a jury in the room. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident or otherwise, talk to the personal injury attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm to discuss how we can help you to reach a settlement in your case.

Peer-to-Peer Carsharing: A Sunday Drive or a Nightmare Ride?

Not all side hustles are created equally, but they all come with serious considerations. Of course, the first consideration for most is financial. After all, the whole point is to supplement your income. The upside must be worth the investment of time and capital, if any, as well as the relevant risks. Even if all you are doing is selling homemade peanut brittle to people you know, there is a risk. What happens if your product makes someone seriously ill or even worse? Risk assessment must be part of that initial analysis, and the side hustle trends seem to get riskier every day.

Just like that mountain cabin or that spare room, many have turned to peer-to-peer car rental services to make an extra buck. These services function much the same as their property rental cousins. Vehicle owners rent their vehicles to other drivers through an app like Getaround or Turo, and the rate is typically hourly. Renters might need the car only for part of the day to run errands or make a special trip to a location devoid of access to public transportation. It seems like a great idea to make money with a car that would have sat unused while helping someone in the process. However, there are many unfortunate places where this type of arrangement could lead.

The two main concerns are damage to property and injury to individuals. When you drive your car, you rely on your insurance coverage to protect against those risks, but that coverage as written could prove worthless in a peer-to-peer car rental scenario. The Pennsylvania legislature has recognized this issue and has passed Senate bill 1222 as a result. This bill, as amended, requires carsharing companies to provide additional insurance to fill the gap when a vehicle owner’s policy excludes the peer-to-peer rental from coverage. The problem is that the coverage provided by the carsharing company might be much less than the vehicle owner enjoys under his or her own policy, meaning that an accident still could pose an unreasonable risk when compared with the relatively meager income gained from this enterprise.

When we think about lending someone a car, we might think that damage to the car is the big risk, but a dented fender or a cracked windshield really sits on the conservative side of the damage spectrum. The truth is that damage to the car might be the least significant risk you take when lending your wheels to someone else. Consider that any motor vehicle accident could result in significant damage to another’s property or the death of anyone involved. The potential litigation could be something much more than most would envision ever encountering. This is why it is important to understand fully the risks involved in these trendy ventures before handing over those keys.

Whether you are considering starting this kind of side business or any side business, or whether you already started and are in need of legal assistance, the attorneys at Cornerstone Law can help. Call us for a consultation today.

August 2022 Review

This month the attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm have been busy with:

  • landlord/tenant actions all over the state
  • personal injury cases that are settling and going to court
  • insurance disputes
  • contractor fights
  • a trade secrets and corporate freeze-out trial

Attorney Stephanie Rauch-Mannino has spent much of her month working out final custody arrangements for families that are splitting up, challenging a post nuptial agreement for unfairness, litigating the proper amount of child support to be paid to a single mom and working on a final distribution of assets in several divorces.

Attorney Tony Distasio has been handling landlord/tenant work for Section 8 clients, where evictions are based on everything from unpaid rent to allegations of criminal misconduct and violence. Attorney Distasio has been everywhere from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia this month as part of hearings on these issues.

Attorney Carl Carrero has been writing briefs and motions and has been to court to handle a request for a delay of a sheriff sale. As sheriff sales pickup and foreclosures continue, Attorney Carrero and the Cornerstone Law Firm team are expecting to see more last-minute litigation over attempts to sell houses after foreclosure.

Attorney Joel Ready began the month handling a 2-week trial on a claim regarding trade secrets and a fight over corporate ownership of a large company. From there, he has handled several contract disputes. He has also been finalizing a few guilty plea agreements in the last 2 weeks to ensure the best possible deal for individuals facing criminal charges.

Finally, the whole staff at Cornerstone Law Firm has been working to ensure that clients’ wills are being drafted, contracts are getting signed, deeds are being drawn up and filed, and that clients are getting quick responses to their concerns. If you have a question about your legal issue, call Cornerstone Law Firm today so we can help you.

Evaluating Injuries After a Car Accident

When you’ve been in a car accident and are in the process of making an insurance claim, often the most crucial part of the process is to properly evaluate the cost of your injuries. Many victims injured in car accidents ask our Personal Injury Attorneys:

“How do I appropriately value the pain I’ve suffered”?

This article covers just a few of the factors that we use in working with insurance adjusters to come to the appropriate value for your injury claim.

The Amount of Your Medical Bills

The primary factor in determining the value of an insurance claim is the amount of your medical bills. This includes not just the outstanding bills that you owe, but also the bills that have been paid by your insurance or even Medicare or Medicaid. Pain is hard to quantify, but bills are not. The dollar amounts that you have paid to hospitals, ambulance services, and rehabs, the costs of prescription medications and more, are all relevant in determining the size of your claim.

Lost Wages

Although not directly related to pain specifically, the amount of money lost from missed work or the number of personal days you have had to take can be considered in your claim. Attending appointments or time spent dealing with the car accident in general are considered “out of pocket” expenses for which you should be reimbursed. This includes not only visits with your doctor, but also consultations with your attorney or days spent in court dealing with your personal injury claim.

Permanent Damage

Are your injuries temporary, or will they be permanent? Has a doctor told you whether you can expect a full recovery, or will these injuries linger and cause you pain and suffering indefinitely? Permanent injuries are weighed heavily when considering the value of your claim.

Length of Time for Treatment

Another important factor in determining the potential value of your claim is the length of time that treatment will be required. For example, if treatment was required for only a few days or weeks after the accident, the claim is worth less than if treatment were required for months or years. The value of the claim is also impacted by how quickly after the accident treatment was sought and initiated. Was it started, in earnest, quickly? Did it require a trip to the hospital immediately? Was the injury something that developed weeks or months later? The answers to all of these questions can assist in evaluating your claim.

Future Medical Expenses

Just as the length of time that treatment was required can impact the value of your claim, so also can the potential for future medical expenses. If you will need surgery because of your injuries, or if you will need long term treatment and care, that will increase the value of your claim in most cases. Conversely, if no future medical treatment will be required and you have made a complete recovery, that often can put a cap on your potential damages.

The Effected Parts of the Body or Types of Injuries Involved

Another factor considered for your claim is the type of injuries you sustained. Is it a back injury, or a neck injury? Is it a head injury? Each of these have different potential impacts on you and your future quality of life and can be valued differently because of that.

Conclusion

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is vital that you have an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to help you with your case. At Cornerstone Law Firm, our Personal Injury Attorneys help people every day to get the settlement that is right for them. Call us to learn more.

Do My Medical Bills Get Put on Hold While I Pursue a Personal Injury Claim?

When you are injured in a car accident, a common question that you may confront is what to do about your mounting medical bills. Some people have medical insurance that covers their medical bills, and they are less concerned with this problem. But for those who have lower-grade insurance, or for those whose insurance has been depleted as a result of the injury and injury recovery process, a big concern is how those medical bills will be paid.

To begin with, your medical bills are not put on hold or “paused” while your personal injury claim goes forward. Hospitals and other medical care providers typically do not wish to wait on the conclusion of a personal injury claim to get paid, and will insist on immediate payment. In some cases, they’ll even send these bills out for collections. So, what should you do about this?

First, ensure that all of your medical bills have been run through your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage, which is part of your car insurance. PIP coverage is provided by your car insurer, and you can read more about it in our article on PIP coverage. Your car insurance (not the person who hit you) is required to pay for your medical bills up to a certain limit. Sometimes victims of car accidents are worried that their car insurance will be negatively affected by using their PIP coverage, but don’t let this worry you. Your PIP coverage is there for you to use to ensure that you get better, medically, and you should have no concern about submitting your car accident-related medical bills to your car insurance directly.

Second, if your PIP coverage is exhausted, and you have further medical bills, you should talk to a personal injury attorney about how to ensure that these claims are handled as you go through the process. In some cases, this means that your personal injury attorney sends letters to the medical providers or collection agencies explaining to them that the process is continuing and that, at some point, you expect payment on your claim. Personal injury lawyers can sometimes negotiate these claims or at least establish a delay in payment for you.

Third, establish payment plans if necessary. Some medical providers will agree to accept payments and can do so without any interest if you begin making certain amounts of good faith payments on these bills. Furthermore, you can sometimes negotiate these bills to a more reasonable level by offering to pay cash up front for a reduction in the overall bill.

Finally, medical bills can also mount after someone has passed away in a car accident. In that case, the estate of the person who died will be responsible for the bills, but these costs can be recouped from the wrongdoer in a wrongful death action.

If you’ve been in a car accident or otherwise injured on the road, contact the personal injury lawyers at Cornerstone Law Firm to discuss your case and see how we can help you. To learn more, read our article on your next steps after a car accident.

How Do I Get the Police Report After a Car Accident?

When you’ve been in a car accident that causes you an injury or property damage, you may want to view the police report that was filled out at the scene of the crash by the responding police officer. Depending on whether it was a local police department or the Pennsylvania State Police, this can be a rather involved process.

Some police departments actually charge for their police reports, and others claim that they cannot give them out without a court order or subpoena. You may face opposition trying to get the basic official information that was gathered. This can be particularly frustrating if you’re trying to make an insurance claim based on your injuries from the accident.

Police reports are not technically considered a public record, and if anyone was charged in the accident, whether with a traffic ticket or something more serious, then the police department will usually refuse to provide the report in response to Right-To-Know Requests.

After someone has died in a car accident, the process can be particularly difficult. You may have to open an estate to pursue getting information on the accident or to set up a wrongful death claim. In these instances, police departments often refuse to give out the police reports except to an authorized representative of the opened estate.

Accordingly, if someone in the department won’t provide it to you, and if the police refuse to include it in a Right-To-Know request, what else can you do? Sometimes the only option is to retain an attorney to begin working on your personal injury case, or to pursue a small claims lawsuit for property damage to your car. An attorney can file a Writ of Summons or a Complaint to begin a civil action to recover damages and can advise you on the discovery rights this gives you. Most of the time, a simple subpoena can be sent—but only after a lawsuit is filed. Subpoena power does not arise under Pennsylvania law until a suit is filed.

If you’ve had trouble getting hold of a police report or have questions after your car accident or personal injury claim, give us a call today at Cornerstone Law Firm. Our personal injury attorneys can discuss with you how to move forward.

May 2021 Update

May 2021 has been filled with trials and advanced litigation for the attorneys of Cornerstone Law Firm. On the civil side, attorney Joel Ready spent time litigating a partnership dispute in Lehigh County court, giving advice to several businesses to avoid personnel and human resources litigation, promulgating discovery in personal injury cases based in Berks County and preparing for a summer of trials. A number of Cornerstone Law’s criminal clients were able to obtain trial dates this month, allowing them to finally pursue their innocence in a proceeding before a jury.

On the transactional side, several businesses hired Cornerstone Law Firm to draft contracts and to create new bylaws and other operating agreements for their businesses and nonprofits. These ranged from employment agreements to more complex inter-business cooperation agreements, and also agreements to resolve potential areas of dispute between rival businesses.

Attorney Crossett has been involved in several mediation for personal injury clients, obtaining settlement for car accident victims and those injured in other accidents. Furthermore, Attorney Crossett has finalized complex land deals this month for clients with conflicting real estate claims.

At Cornerstone Law Firm we are happy that the world is slowly getting back to normal, and we are looking forward to the nice weather in the summer months!

Injured in a car accident in Berks County, Pennsylvania? Here’s what to do

Injured in a car accident in Berks County, Pennsylvania? Here’s what to do

When you have been injured in a car accident in Berks County, what steps should you take to protect yourself? Dealing with an insurance company can be very difficult and having your case prepared properly is very important. Here are three steps you should take if you have been injured so that you can set up a proper claim with your insurance company.

  1. Get all medical treatment your doctor suggests

The first and most important suggestion that anyone should consider when they are injured in a car accident is to get the medical treatment that their primary care physician tells them to get. This may mean an initial ride to the hospital and treatment in an emergency room, but also can include follow up rehabilitation visits and meetings with the orthopedic surgeons or other doctors and specialists. It’s tempting to try to be tough in situations like this, and it’s also natural to be concerned about the medical bills that might result. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, you should know that your car insurance includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

Pennsylvania state law requires your insurance to cover at least $5,000.00 of medical bills. Depending on your particular policy, you may have even more coverage than that. And because this PIP coverage is given greater buying power under state law, this represents a lot of medical treatment. So, if your doctor tells you to get counseling, see a rehabilitation specialist, or suggests any other course of treatment, do it and make sure to submit the bills to your car insurance company. This is one of the only times in life where your medical treatment will be paid entirely by someone else without a copay or any other cost to you, so there is no reason not to pursue it. In addition, pursuing this treatment will build your claim regarding your car accident.

  1. Don’t speak to an insurance adjuster without legal advice

The requirements of politeness often make people think that they have to speak to an insurance adjuster who calls them shortly after an accident. This is not the case. An insurance adjuster, even for your insurance company, may not have your best interest at heart. They may call you and ask you how you are feeling, all as part of trying to get a statement out of you that can be used against you later. There is really no need to correspond with your insurance company until your treatment is complete or until the statute of limitations on your case is about to run out. For this reason, it’s important that you speak with a lawyer before you take the call from an insurance adjuster. A personal injury attorney in Berks County can help you to determine whether speaking to an adjuster is in your best interests or not.

  1. Know your rights

The most important thing you should remember after a car accident is to know your rights. You have a right to be compensated for the injuries that you suffer. This compensation can include pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the accident, lost wages, and of course, any medical bills your PIP coverage did not take care of. In other words, it’s not just about getting your medical bills paid. It can also include your lost wages and the trouble you’ve had getting back to work. All of these should be factored into an appropriate settlement.

  1. Conclusion – Call a Reading, PA Personal Injury Lawyer Today

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we help people who have been injured here in the Berks County area with their injury claims, ranging from car accidents to wrongful death. Our office is in Blandon, just outside of Reading and we help people throughout the county to gather what is necessary to present their claim and to make sure they’re getting the best settlement possible. If you have a question, call us at 610-926-7875 for a free consultation about your injury case.

Motorcycle Injury: What to Do When You Have Been Injured in Berks County, Pennsylvania

When you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, the injuries can be catastrophic. Every serious rider knows that no matter how safe you are, and no matter carefully you abide by the rules of the road and accepted safety practices, the risk of injury is an ever present danger. When you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, what are your first steps and what should you do?

1. Submit Your Medical Bills to Your Motorcycle Insurance.

This first step often confuses people. It is important that you submit your medical bills directly to your own motorcycle insurance carrier. This step in the process often surprises the victims of accidents, because it seems like the other party should be paying the medical bills. Don’t worry! We will get to that later.

However, when you are first injured, your insurance provides you with something called PIP coverage (Personal Injury Protection). This coverage is designed to make sure that you can immediately get medical treatment right after an accident without having any money spent out of pocket. State law requires you to have at least $5,000 in PIP coverage, and you have been paying for it as part of your insurance, so there is no reason not to use it now when you need it. By opening a claim and having your medical bills submitted straight to your motorcycle insurance carrier, you will (hopefully) avoid racking up medical expenses at the beginning of this process. 

2. Get Treatment!

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, this next tip may not be that difficult to abide by. Nonetheless, it is extremely important that you get medical treatment for all of your injuries. There is no point in being tough about any sort of vehicle accident. Your injuries will not just get better on their own in most cases. This is particularly true of unseen injuries, such as torn ligaments and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

The danger of concussions is only now becoming a matter of general awareness, largely due to the news surrounding the National Football League and other professional sports. If you have been diagnosed with a concussion or are experiencing the effects of an impact to your head, which is not uncommon after a motorcycle accident, it is extremely important that you see a doctor, a specialist and anyone to whom they refer you. 

You may have to live with the effects of a traumatic brain injury for much of the rest of your life. Accordingly, the medical records demonstrating such an injury are an important part of demonstrating the severity of your claim and your entitlement to an appropriate financial settlement with the insurance companies. 

3. Call A Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Motorcycle Accident

Finally, it is extremely important that you talk to a personal injury attorney right away after your motorcycle accident. It does not matter if you know the full extent of your injuries. You can still talk to a personal injury attorney about your case. At Cornerstone Law Firm, your consultation is free, and we do not get paid until you get paid. We’re here to help, so call us today.

 

Cornerstone Law Firm in the Greater Reading Merchandiser

Cornerstone Law Firm is honored to serve the Berks County, Pennsylvania and beyond. We’re happy to solve your legal problems, even through the uncertainty and stress of the current coronavirus (COVID-19).

In this month’s Greater Reading Merchandiser, we’re sharing a little bit about ourselves and what we’re doing to make sure your legal needs are still met! Check out are ad:

april 2020 merchandiser

For more information about how we can serve you, contact us today!