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FAQs

Personal injury


Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer’s help?
Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?
Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
What is considered “pain and suffering?”
What is a typical settlement amount?
What is wrongful death?
Who can sue for wrongful death?
What if I know that a defective product harmed other people besides me?
Do all personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis where they do not get paid unless they recover money for you?
Should I be concerned if a lawyer states the value of my case at the initial attorney client interview?
Should professionalism and dignity of the profession be a consideration in obtaining a good jury verdict result?

Family law

What factors does the court consider to divide marital property?
My ex is behind on alimony and child support. What recourse do I have?
How is child support calculated?
Are men worse off in family law cases?

Employment discrimination

What is reverse discrimination?
Do I have a case anytime I was terminated or treated unjustly by my employer?
Can suit be brought in court immediately?
How are the employers actions evaluated in an employment discrimination case?
Are workplace retaliation claims on the rise for reporting illegal discrimination acts to the employer?
What is a retaliation claim?

When you need legal assistance or representation, just give Adamczyk Law Offices, L.L.P. a call.

We will set up a free appointment to hear your needs and assess your personal injury, family law, or employment discrimination case. Call us today for your free consultation at (412) 261-5045.

Personal injury

Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer’s help?

It is in your best interests to only provide your contact information to an insurance company until you consult with a lawyer. Often insurance companies will record you. What if for example they greet you as is commonly done by stating “How are you doing today?”, you say “fine” without thinking in response. The insurance company can use this to try to prove you were not injured or injured to the extent you claim to be.
The more significant your injuries or the more complicated the facts are surrounding the incident, the more imperative it becomes to seek legal counsel before providing any statement.
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Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?

No. While the insurance company might try to draw a direct correlation between damage done to your car and the severity of your personal injury, it is possible that the body sustained damage even if the car did not. The reverse may also be true—a car might experience a major impact but the people might only suffer minor cuts and bruises.
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Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?

About 95 percent of personal injury cases filed settle prior to trial. The question becomes does it settle for less because your attorney is not as prepared or settle for what it’s worth due to the extensive efforts of your attorney who is always prepared for trial?
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What is considered “pain and suffering?”

Actual pain caused by physical injury as well as the mental anguish that accompanies that pain including the inability to have the quality of life you had before due to the limitation of activities you engaged in prior to your accident and fear things will get worse.
This includes past, present and future pain and suffering.
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What is a typical settlement amount?

An experienced personal injury lawyer reviews and interprets your case information to determine the appropriate value for your claim under Pennsylvania law:

  • Past, present, and future estimated medical expenses
  • Time lost from work, including time spent going to medical appointments or therapy
  • Any property damaged (e.g., your vehicle)
  • Any permanent limitations caused by the injury
  • Past, present and future pain and suffering
  • The cost of hiring someone to do household chores you can no longer do
  • Your emotional distress
  • Any change in your future earning ability due to the injury
  • Any other costs directly resulting from your injury

The goal is fair and adequate compensation for your injury and an experienced attorney will know what a reasonable jury would award. The amount of pain and suffering an individual endured and/or the degree of the defendant's negligence affects the outcome of a typical settlement. The strength of lay and expert witness testimony may also influence the amount.
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What is wrongful death and survival?

In addition to injuring the person who died, the act or omission also brought harm to the people who depended on that individual for financial and/or emotional support. The wrongful act might be:

  • A negligent or careless act (e.g., careless driving)
  • A reckless act
  • An intentional act
  • An omission from the standard of reasonable care

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Who can sue for wrongful death?

Pennsylvania law defines who is allowed to bring a wrongful death suit: a spouse, children, parent, or guardian may sue. In certain instances, other blood relatives may file suit.  An experienced personal injury lawyer well versed in Pennsylvania law can help you understand your rights and options.

What if I know that a defective product harmed other people besides me?

When the same defective product injures a large number of people, they may join together in a class action lawsuit to hold manufacturers and sellers liable for the injuries caused by their product.

Do all personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis where they do not get paid unless they recover money for you?

Yes, all attorneys work on this basis to help people in need who suffered any injury, not just those attorneys who advertise on television like Edgar Snyder and Associates

Should I be concerned if a lawyer states the value of my case at the initial attorney client interview?

Often times lawyers feel compelled to place a value on the case because the client asks or because the lawyer is concerned the potential client may go elsewhere to see if another attorney may say it’s worth more. Only in the simplest of liability cases with injuries that are clearly defined which will not produce the possibility of unforeseen implications should an attorney give such an opinion. Too much may be unknown to properly give such an opinion leaving the client disappointed if in the end matters did not go as promised. The better answer is for an attorney to advise that he or she will do all to maximize the value of your case because the more the case is worth the more the attorney will earn on a contingent fee basis.

Should professionalism and dignity of the profession be a consideration in obtaining a good jury verdict result?

Yes, jurors care about the appearance and conduct of a litigant just as much as they do their legal representative. Professionalism in ones conduct and appearance is the proper way for an attorney to represent a client for best results. Do you want your attorney to be seen s an ambulance chaser or a professional? Do you think jurors would admire your choice of attorney and respect your claims if the attorney were the prepackaged type television lawyer who points fingers and make claims? Compare us to Edgar Snyder & Associates in this regard and may others.

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Family law

What factors does the court consider to divide marital property?

  • Length of the marriage
  • Any prior marriage of either party
  • Age, health, station, income, vocational skills, employability, estates, liabilities, and needs of each party
  • Contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party
  • Opportunity of the parties to acquire future income and assets
  • Sources of income, including medical, retirement, insurance, and other benefits
  • Services of each party as a parent, wage earner, or homemaker
  • Value of each party's property
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Tax consequences of the distribution
  • Custodial parent designation

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My ex is behind on alimony and child support. What recourse do I have?

Your ex faces serious consequences for failure to honor child support obligations.  In Pennsylvania, these include:

  • Jail for up to six months, a fine up to $500, or probation for up to six months
  • Seizure of bank accounts, personal injury, or workers compensation awards
  • Seizure of federal and state tax refunds
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Denial of passport
  • Liens against real property
  • Credit bureau reporting
  • Publication of name in the newspaper as a delinquent parent

The Pittsburgh law firm of Adamczyk Law Offices L.L.P. can help you determine the best strategy for you to follow to collect on child support obligations. For more information, click here for the Pennsylvania State Profile from the Office of Child Support Enforcement.
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How is child support calculated?

A set of state guidelines determines the amount of money the non-custodial parent pays for child support.  The state’s Support Guideline supports the premise that the children of separated or divorced parents should receive the same proportion of parental incomes as if the parents were still together.  While the state offers a child support estimator tool, the Pittsburgh law firm of Adamczyk Law Offices L.L.P. can help you understand the methodology used and the likely outcome for you and your family as there are several areas where a court may use its discretion to deviate from the guidelines often making a significant difference.

Are men worse off in family law cases then women?

Any attorney who says so in this day of age is simply wrong and might just be saying so as a marketing ploy or strategy. Taking the position that a man has less rights than a women in a court of law would only offend the Judge whose decision it is to make. The fact is, despite the claims one might hear from corporate firms with offices in many cities like Cordell & Cordell, P.C. only those factors as discussed above are applied. Sometimes that is to the advantage of a woman based on circumstances and sometimes it benefits the man on a case by case basis. For example, whether the father or mother was the stay at home parent neither would be penalized for giving up their career or earnings in the event the parents separate. The court considers each job as important and one which both worked hard to create, maintain and now should benefit from. Indeed, a man who temporarily gave up a career and future earning capacity to stay at home with the children would not be financially penalized when it came time to resolve the money and retirement issues at equitable distribution nor should he be. This does not meant that it is not proper to want a male or female attorney to represent you as these are sensitive issues. At Adamczyk Law Offices we have exceptionally qualified male and female attorneys.

Employment discrimination

Do I have a case anytime I was terminated or treated unjustly by my employer?

No. The Employment at Will Doctrine in Pennsylvania maintains that an employer can terminate or treat an employee adversely for any reason whatsoever as long as the motive for doing so is not based upon discrimination. Those protected classes of individuals include discrimination based upon age, sex, sexual harassment, pregnancy, religion, national origin, race, or disability. While there are some exceptions to the employment at will doctrine based upon public policy concerns, they are few and mainly fall under whistleblower laws which make it illegal to be terminated, disciplined or otherwise treated adversely for reporting the employer’s illegal activities.
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Can suit be brought in court immediately?

No. The matter must be filed with an administrative agency at the state or federal level within 180 days of the harm who may investigate or attempt to resolve the matter. In the case of the state agency it is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or in the case of the Federal agency, the matter is handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is important to call the Pittsburgh law firm of Adamczyk Law Offices L.L.P. before this initial stage to properly analyze and prepare your claim before the government agency in the best light possible. You must rely on a lawyer to do this and not a government entity which has limited resources. As such, if litigation becomes necessary you will be ready.

How are employers actions evaluated in an employment discrimination case?

Answers to questions such as the following must be determined because most often there is only circumstantial and not direct “smoking gun” type evidence available. In other words, employers are more often than not too smart to be obvious in their words or actions if they intend to discriminate against you.

  • Was company policy followed?
  • Was there retaliation for filing a complaint of discrimination?
  • Were other treated more favorably?
  • Was the sexual harasser adequately punished?
  • Was the victim of sexual harassment advised of the harasser’s punishment and assured that he or she would be kept safe thereafter?
  • Were previous complaints ignored?
  • Was the harasser the subject of past complaints?
  • Was the reason for disciplinary action or termination legitimate?
  • Was the job truly eliminated as the company stated or is someone else who is perhaps lower paid now in the job?
  • Did the company try to build a history of illegitimate complaints against you leading to the termination?
  • Were you suddenly set up to fail in the company? Were the terms and conditions of your work changed repeatedly to make you look bad?

 

What is a retaliation claim?

There is no question that employment-related retaliation claims are on the rise. Since 2006, there has been a nearly 49% increase in the number of retaliation charges filed with the EEOC, with a spike in the number of retaliation charges following the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in the Burlington Northern case broadening the scope of Title VII’s retaliation provision. After rising steadily over the past decade, retaliation is now the most asserted claim filed with the EEOC, accounting for 36% of the charges filed in 2009.

I.          Statutory Protections Against Retaliation

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees or applicants for employment, for an employment agency...to discriminate against any individual, or for a labor organization to discriminate against any member thereof or applicant for membership, because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this [title], or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this [title].”

 

II. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (a).

Based on the above statutory language, federal courts have recognized two distinct clauses in Section 704(a) that prohibit employer retaliation- the “participation” and “opposition” clauses.

 

III.       Proving Retaliation

Establishing the Prima Facie Case (meeting an employee’s basic burden of proof)

Federal courts apply the familiar McDonnell Douglas evidentiary framework to Title VII retaliation claims. To establish a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, the plaintiff must show:

  • She engaged in protected activity under Title VII;
  • The employer took adverse employment action against her;
  • There was a casual relationship between her protected activity and the adverse employment action.

 

Courts also arguably require the plaintiff to establish a fourth element to the prima facie case by requiring that the plaintiff show that the employer had knowledge of the plaintiffs protected activity.

 

IV.       What is Reverse Discrimination?

Although not formally tracked by the government or the courts, “reverse” discrimination claims appear to have increased over the past decade, based on both anecdotal evidence and published decisions. Reported jury verdicts and court decisions reveal that American jurors and the judicial system are more comfortable than ever finding in favor of a majority “class” member who claims to be a victim of discrimination.

This trend has further complicated employment law, as every employee—regardless of race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or age---is now a potential plaintiff.

CASE EXAMPLE

II.        Ricci v. Destefano

In Ricci v. DeStafano, 129 S. Ct.2658,_U.S._(2009), the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, violated Title VII when it decided to ignore test results that the city believed had a disparate impact on minorities. The exams were designed to identify eligible firefighters for promotion to open certain lieutenant positions. For the 118 firefighters who took the exams, the pass rate for black candidates was approximately half that of the corresponding rate for white candidates. After multiple Civil Service hearings, in which New Haven’s counsel characterized the exams as having “a very significant disparate impact,” the city threw out test and promoted no one, citing a desire to avoid violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Id at 2667, 2670-71. Nineteen firefighters who had passed the exams (seventeen white and two Hispanics) sued the city and various officials, alleging that the city discriminated against then on the basis of their race, in violation of Title VII. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, Reasoning that the decision to discard the test results were legitimately grounded in a fear of disparate impact liability. It held that the City’s “motivation to avoid making promotions based on a test with a racially disparate impact...does not, as a matter of law, constitute discriminatory intent.” 554 F. Supp. 2d 142, 160(D. Conn. 2006).The second Circuit affirmed. 530 F. 3d 87 (2d Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court, however, reversed, holding the New Haven violated Title VII when it discarded the test results.

According to the Courts majority, the fear of liability was not enough. “Before an employer can engage in intentional discrimination for the asserted purpose of avoiding or remedying an unintentional disparate impact, the employer must have a strong basis in evidence to believe it will be subject to disparate impact liability if it fails to take the race conscious, discriminatory action.” 129 S. Ct. at 2677. According to the majority, New Haven did not have evidence that the tests were flawed because they were not job-related or because other, equally valid and less discriminatory test were available to the city. Id. At 2678-81. The court did not consider whether satisfying the strong-basis-in-evidence standard would satisfy a Constitutional claim under the Equal Protection Clause in a future case, but did note that invalidating test results without a strong basis in evidence of an impermissible disparate impact, is antithetical to the notion of a work-place where individuals are guaranteed equal opportunity regardless of race.

 

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