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Thanksgiving, Giving Thanks, & Thank You!

November 27, 2023

This November I am turning 60 and celebrating 35 years of practicing law. I have been fortunate to have been helped by so many friends, supportive colleagues, clients, mentors, and referral sources along the way. This Thanksgiving I am making sure to thank all those people who have helped me over the years. I could not have done it without you.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Clint Kelley

Why Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do What They Do?

October 7, 2023

People sometimes wonder why a personal injury lawyer does what a personal injury lawyer does. We hear "How could you do that?" Or, worse, "How can you do that and still sleep at night?"


A mentor of mine from early in my career helped me with the perfect answer to questions like this.

My mentor said that the passion that we have for our cases is that we know that while we are representing an injured person or the family of a person who died from their injuries in the kinds of cases we typically handle, our cases often have a broader effect on society. Yes, we are here to provide a remedy or compensation to our individual clients on a case-by-case basis. But, when we represent a case, we actually speak for the entire community. We let it be known that we are not going to tolerate a particular negligent act, or a particular unlawful act. Or, we let it be known that a person's life or safety and well-being are worthy of monetary compensation. That's an important message that we convey in our cases, and it gets back to the fact that we are passionate about what we do for our clients, as well as what our clients' cases do for the broader society.


Do I Need an Expert Witness for My Personal Injury Case?

October 7, 2023

The short answer is that if the trier of fact (i.e. an arbitration panel, or a Jury, or a Judge deciding a case without a Jury) that is responsible for deciding a case is unfamiliar with subject matter of the case sufficient enough to decide the case, then an expert witness is necessary to provide the information necessary for the trier of fact to be able to make their decision. 

The slightly longer answer relies on the Rules of Evidence. An expert witness must have the knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education to help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine the fact in issue. So again, if the fact in issue cannot be understood or determined by the trier of fact, then an expert witness is required to help the trier of fact to reach its conclusion. There are examples where expert witnesses can be required. Some motor vehicle accidents are not as clear as others, and an accident reconstruction expert is required. Some slip and fall cases require an expert witness to demonstrate how the particular surface that the victim fell on was defective. Most (if not all) personal injury cases require an expert medical witness to detail the victim's injuries and show the those injuries were caused by the accident in question. And, all medical malpractice cases will require an expert witness to render an opinion that the defendant deviated from the standard of care and that the deviation caused the victim's injuries and damages.


Everybody Uses the Term 'Negligence'. What Does it Mean, Really?

October 7, 2023

Negligence is best defined by its elements. The elements of negligence are: duty; breach; causation; and damages. 

Duty is an obligation to follow a standard of conduct recognized by the law, (e.g. the defendant must to stop his car before he hits the woman's car in front of him that is stopped at the stop sign). Breach of that duty involves a failure to follow the standard of recognized by the law, (e.g. the defendant did not stop his car before he ran into the woman in front of him that was stopped at the stop sign).

Causation means that there is a causal connection between the failure to follow the standard recognized by the law and the injuries suffered by the victim, (e.g. because the defendant did not stop before running into the woman in front of him that was stopped at the stop sign, the woman who was stopped at the stop hit her head on her steering wheel and got a concussion).

Damages means the victim suffered injuries (e.g. her concussion from hitting her head on the steering wheel), and actual losses (e.g. medical bills because she needed medical treatment for her concussion, lost wages because her concussion kept her from going to work for a period of time, and property damage because the back end of her vehicle was smashed in) or other damages (e.g. for her pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.) as a result of the accident.


What is a Contingent Fee?

October 7, 2023


A contingent fee is a form of payment to a lawyer for legal services in which the lawyer is paid a percentage of the monetary amount received by the lawyer's client if and when the client settles or wins their case. In such an arrangement, the client does not owe the lawyer any fees if the client does not settle or win their case.

A variation on this is a contingent fee / contingent cost agreement. In contingent fee / contingent cost agreement, the lawyer is paid a percentage of the monetary amount received by the lawyer's client AND the lawyer is also reimbursed the costs expended on the client's case if and when the client settles or wins their case. In such an arrangement, the client does not owe the lawyer any fees OR costs if the client does not settle or win their case.


Do I Really Need an Attorney to Handle My Personal Injury Case?

October 7, 2023

In a word, yes - I am a firm believer in the fact that accident victims need an attorney to handle their personal injury case. Getting compensated for your injuries on cases like this is not as simple as calling the insurance company of the other guy, i.e. the the at-fault party, and having them mail you a check. Instead, personal injury cases involve legally significant questions related to liability and damages. These cases require the gathering and timely and appropriate use of evidence to demonstrate: who is at fault; what the victim's injuries are; and, what the victim's damages are. There are numerous procedural issues that are involved along with substantive legal and evidentiary issues that arise. Issues involving insurance coverage can also arise, and personal injury attorneys can help to make sure that their clients are getting paid by any and all available insurance policies depending on the circumstances of each case. Lawyers that practice personal injury law can guide their clients through this process from start to finish and can help to maximize their client's financial recovery to assure fair and complete compensation.


How Do I Really Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

October 7, 2023

If you have been injured in an accident, the question of whether or not you have a personal injury case boils down to two related sub-questions: 1) who is at fault for your accident? and 2) how badly have you been hurt?

The first sub-question, i.e. who is at fault for your accident, is the question of liability. Another way to think about this is to determine who was the negligent party that caused the accident? If the accident was not your fault, or was more the fault of the other person involved than your fault, then you probably have a case. 


The second sub-question, i.e. how badly have you been hurt as a result, is the question of damages. Your damages often determines the size of your case, meaning if you have not been hurt badly then your case is not worth as much as if you have suffered significant injuries.


What is the Statute of Limitations & What Does it Mean to Me?

October 7, 2023

The statute of limitations sets forth the period of time limitation for bringing certain types of legal actions, meaning the length of time you have to bring your lawsuit to recover money damages for your case.


In Pennsylvania Personal Injury Law, the Statute of Limitations in civil cases, for example personal injury cases, is two (2) years. This means that personal injury victims have two (2) years from the date of their injury to file a civil lawsuit for their injuries.


Can I Do a Contingent Fee in a Limited Tort Case?

October 7, 2023

As many of you know, my wife Cindy and I have 3 sons. One of our sons, Will, owns a landscape / hardscape contracting company in the Pittsburgh area. He knows a lot of people, and a lot of those people know that both Will’s parents are lawyers. Our son tries to refer the people he knows who have legal problems to me. Will has referred some pretty good cases to me over the years.

Recently, Will referred a friend with limited tort car insurance who had been rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Will’s friend was hurt as a result of getting rear-ended. He was taken to the emergency room by ambulance, was following up with the family doctor, and had been doing a lot of physical therapy. In fact, he had been hurt so badly that for a time he could not work, he got behind on his bills, and his wife had to pick up extra hours at her job to try to make up for the money he wasn’t bringing home. By the time his wife finally got home at the end of the day, she was exhausted. And, things hadn’t been going great at home either, (if you know what I mean).


But get this - the car accident had happened about a year before Will’s friend had told him about it. When Will heard this, he warned his friend about the statute of limitations and that time was running out. Will asked his friend why he hadn’t hired a lawyer yet to help him with his accident case. Will’s friend replied that he could not afford a lawyer. Will was quick to respond that lawyers usually handle these types of cases on a “contingent fee” basis, so the client only pays the lawyer if the lawyer helps the client win money in the case. (So, Will had been listening all those years to what Cindy and I talked about at the dinner table).

But here comes the double whammy…

Will’s friend said that he knew what a contingent fee was and how it worked, but he didn’t think a lawyer would take his case on a contingent fee because he only had limited tort car insurance in Pennsylvania.

Alright, alright. Let’s set the record straight…

Yes! A client can still do a contingent fee with a lawyer in a Pennsylvania limited tort case. This means that the client with limited tort car insurance does not pay any legal fees unless and until the lawyer recovers money on the client’s behalf from the insurance company for the other driver that caused the car accident.

In my law practice, I help people with limited tort car insurance get paid by the other driver’s insurance company for their damages, like their pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages, and loss of consortium if they are married (like Will’s friend). When I help people on cases like this, I charge a contingent fee and only get paid my legal fees if I win my client’s case. So, don’t wait until it’s too late. Call me for a free case evaluation to see if you are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and damages.


Can I Help You, Please?

July 17, 2022

I had to wait until I was 16 to get my first job. I have heard some real horror stories from friends of mine about their first jobs - crazy bosses, long hours, minimum wage, and lots of burger flipping in greasy fast food places.

But, I was lucky. My first job was at a country club. And, my first boss, John Darak, was the Golf Pro at that country club. My job was to unload golf bags from the car trunks, strap the golf bags into golf carts, clean the golf clubs once the golfers finished playing, and then load the golf clubs back into the car trunks at the end of the day. Yes, I got paid minimum wage. But, I also got paid tips by club members and their guests for the services I provided to them. It was here that my first boss really helped me. Mr. Darak taught me exactly what I had to do in order to make great tip money from the members and their guests that I served. 

Now, since birth, I have gone by the “Clint”, a shortened version of my middle name. My first boss, however, always called me full middle name, “Clinton”. So when he taught me exactly what I had to do to make great tip money from members and their guests, this is exactly what Mr. Darak would say to me:

“Clinton, you have to kill them with kindness. 

You have to kill them with kindness, Clinton.”

Was it truly that simple? And, while we’re at it, did it have to be repeated? Over the next four summers, I did exactly what Mr. Darak taught me. And he was right. The tippers tipped, and tipped plenty. And, with time (and a lot of kindness), some of the non-tippers would even occasionally give me a tip.


A lot has happened since my first job. The short version is that I became a lawyer, got married to my wife Cindy, started my own law practice, and became a Father to our 3 sons. To this day, I still try to follow what Mr. Darak taught me. Kindness goes a long way in the practice of personal injury law. What I learned from Mr. Darak is just as applicable today as it was back then.

One way of showing kindness to clients is to put yourself in their shoes. Being injured, not being able to work, dealing with medical bills, and having to hire a lawyer can cause lots of stress and anxiety. This may be the first time a client has had to hire a lawyer, and they be worried about being able to afford legal representation. They may not know if they have a case in the first place, and if they do, what their case is worth. They may not know how long their case will take to be finished. Clients may wonder who is going to pay their medical bills for the medical treatment that they need to get better and get back to work. Spending time with clients and explaining the legal process and what steps to expect can go a long way to alleviating all that stress and anxiety.

This is one of the main reasons that I start off each case with a thorough and detailed free case evaluation. I take the necessary time to know what each case is about, how the injuries occurred, how severe the injuries are, and how significant the damages are. I then let my clients know what to expect as the case goes forward. 

Feel free to call me for a thorough and detailed free case evaluation to see if you have a personal injury case, and to being the process of determining how much your case is worth, how long it will likely take to be resolved, and getting rid of your stress and anxiety.


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