The law team at the Chicago Injury Center understands that you may be experiencing a myriad of emotions and seeking the answers to a multitude of questions following an injury. Here are the answers to the most common questions that we receive. If you have any additional questions or need further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions or to arrange a free consultation with you so that we can review the details of your case and advise you accordingly.
Q: What are the different types of personal injuries?
The legal definition of a personal injury is not solely limited to physical harm but includes any action that results in the loss of or damage to property, damage to the victim’s reputation, financial hardship, physical or emotional trauma or a dramatic change to the victim’s quality of life. Every personal injury case is different, so if you have any reason to believe that you may have a personal injury claim, it is wise to consult an attorney about the matter to learn more about your rights and options.
Q: What is Negligence?
The simple definition for negligence is fault regardless of intent. What this means is that a person or a company may be held liable for any action or failure to act properly that results in an injury. In order to prove negligence, it must be determined that the responsible party breached its duty of care. The duty of care is the responsibility of any individual or organization to act reasonable under any given set of circumstances in order to prevent an injury or limit its severity.
It is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove that the defendant caused the damage and was indeed negligent. In some cases, cause-in-fact may be argued, meaning that the defendant’s actions or failure to act directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Proximate cause is argued when the defendant did not directly cause the injury but the defendant’s actions contributed to the chain of events preceding the event. It is not uncommon for multiple parties to be deemed negligent in personal injury cases which involve manufactural defects, work conditions or the negligent acts of an employee.
Q: How much is my personal injury case worth?
Every personal injury case involves circumstances and damages that are unique, making it difficult to place a value on your case without conducting a thorough evaluation. We can give you a general idea of what you can expect from your case once we consider the following factors.
- Medical costs, which include the cost of ongoing care and procedures required for a complete recovery.
- Loss of income, such as lost wages or potential income lost due to the injuries.
- Property damage.
- Pain and suffering, which includes physical and emotional trauma endured due to injuries.
Many factors will influence the amount of compensation to which you are entitled, including whether punitive and nominal damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages. A personal injury attorney must consider all of these factors before being able to determine an accurate value for your case.
Q: What are the different forms of damages?
Damages are the financial compensation that the defendant is required to provide the plaintiff for his or her injuries. There are several forms of damages which are considered when estimating the value of one’s case.
- Compensatory damages are provided to recover the cost of medical care, lost wages, damage to property and pain and suffering. The purpose of compensatory damages is to restore the victim to his or her physical, emotional and financial state before the accident and nothing more.
- Punitive damages are awarded when a jury seeks to punish the defendant for an act that was malicious or in bad faith. These damages are designed to discourage similar acts in the future by other parties and to penalize the defendant.
- Nominal damages are awarded if there was no real financial harm done but the defendant committed an intentional act that needs to be accounted for.
- In some cases, court costs and attorney fees may also be awarded as damages but this varies and does not always happen.
Q: At what point should I speak with an attorney?
Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible is much more beneficial than waiting or attempting to resolve the matter through insurance companies. Waiting can be detrimental to your case due to statute of limitations laws that limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. The Chicago Injury Center provides free consultations and advice, making it easy and simple for you to determine whether you should pursue a lawsuit following an injury.
Q: How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations in the State of Illinois for the majority of personal injury cases is two years, which means that a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the incident. Statute of limitation laws are designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits over events that occurred long after the facts of the case could be verified or argued effectively in a court. It is important to speak with an attorney promptly following an injury so that your case can be filed within the required time period.
Q: Can my personal injury claim be settled without a lawsuit?
Many cases come to resolution without the need for trial. Before filing a lawsuit, your attorney will communicate with the defendant to explore the possibility of an out of court settlement. If no agreement can be made, a lawsuit would be filed. Negotiations between you and the defendant may continue until a settlement is accepted or the matter goes to trial and the court issues a judgment.
Q: What is a medical lien and how does it impact my case?
In the event that medical care providers administer treatment for injuries caused by another party, a medical lien entitles the provider to a portion of any judgment or settlement received by the victim for the payment of services provided. Insurance companies often negotiate with healthcare provider by offering a quick payment in order to reduce their financial responsibility. Your personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate with any healthcare provider that treated your injuries as well in order to reduce the amount of money you may owe for services.
Q: How long does it take to file a lawsuit and receive compensation?
While your individual case may require more or less time, most personal injury lawsuits take between one and two years— if they reach trial. In many cases both parties agree to an out of court settlement well before the matter reaches a courtroom. Once an agreement is reached or damages are awarded by the court you can usually expect to receive compensation within the next thirty days.
Q: Why is my insurance company paying for my injuries when I was not at fault?
In the event that the defendant is uninsured or lacks adequate coverage to provide compensation for your injuries in full, a claim may be filed against your own insurance. Multiple insurance companies may become involved in your case before it is concluded. For example— in the event of a car accident, the defendant’s car insurance may pay a portion of the settlement while the plaintiff’s car insurance and health insurance may be called upon to cover the difference between the defendant’s coverage and the cost of treatment, recovery and additional financial hardship.
Q: What is subrogation and how does it affect me?
Subrogation is the right of an insurance company to recover any payment it made if the victim in a personal injury case receives payment in the form of a settlement or from the defendant’s insurance company. For example, if you file a claim against your health insurance and then receive a settlement or are awarded damages in the amount of your medical bills, your health insurance will want to recover the claim you filed against your coverage. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to negotiate with all of the insurance companies involved in order to make sure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible for the recovery of the cost of medical treatment, lost wages and any necessary treatment in the future before you are required to remit payment to your insurance.
Q: What should I do if my insurance company requires me to sign a release?
The short answer is not to. Any legal agreement you sign should first be reviewed by an attorney in order to be certain that the agreement is in your best interests and does not violate your rights. Insurance companies have been known to employ questionable or deceptive tactics in order to minimize their responsibility and make the victims in a personal injury case give up their rights. One of these tactics is to offer an immediate settlement in the hope that the victim will not review the finer details.
These settlement offers fail to take into account the full cost of treatment, recovery and medical costs that may be incurred in the future. For this reason, it is extremely important to refuse any quick settlement offers and retain the representation of a personal injury attorney who can accurately assess the value of your case and negotiate a settlement that protects your rights and interests.
Q: What is the cost of retaining a personal injury lawyer?
The Chicago Injury Center’s team of personal injury lawyers work on contingency, which means that we will never require payment upfront for our services and will only receive payment if and when we are able to recover compensation on your behalf. Our consultations and case evaluations are free and if you choose to retain our services, you will only be required to pay for our services once you agree to a settlement or are awarded a judgment.
Possibly the most important decision that you can make following an injury is to retain an attorney and it is important you select one who is experienced and qualified to tackle the unique circumstances of your case. The Chicago Injury Center has experience handling many forms of personal injury cases and recovering the compensation that our clients need to be able to recover physically, emotionally and financially following an accident or injury. We have a proven record of collecting the maximum compensation possible for our clients so that they are able to move forward with their recoveries without the burden of financial hardship.
The types of cases we have worked on include the following:
- Automobile and Truck Accidents
- Commercial Truck Accidents
- Workplace Injuries
- Bicycle Accidents
- Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
- Dog or Animal Attacks
- Medical Malpractice
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Wrongful Death
Contact us today for a risk free consultation with a lawyer who will properly evaluate your case and answer any questions you have about your rights and legal options. If for any reason you are unable to travel to one of our offices located throughout the Chicago area and Illinois, we would be happy to come to you instead.