Do I have a case for my personal injury or accident lawsuit?
Personal injury and accident law can be very complex. In order to be due compensation from another party, you must be able to prove negligence and be able to collect damages from the person or entity liable. If someone causes your injuries intentionally or unintentionally, they may be held liable. This means that they would pay for your medical care, lost income and other damages associated with your injuries.
As you can imagine in order for a good accident and injury attorney to understand if they have a case for you, they first must have ALL the facts and information. This can get even trickier, because often times all of the facts and information must be gathered from many different places. Some examples are police reports, medical records, insurance company information, etc…
This fact finding and information gathering takes time. It also takes money and resources to pull all of this information together. It is only after a legal professional has all of this information, and has had time to analyze this information that they can determine what the full and true value of an accident or injury case is.
What factors go into the value of a case?
1) We need to understand what the economic (financial) damages are for your case:
Economic damages can include:
- Medical Bills
- Property Damage
- Lost Income
2) We need to understand what the non-economic damages are for your case:
Non-economic damages are:
After our initial consultation and case review with you, we work with other experts to find the REAL and TRUE value of your case.
These experts can include:
- Vocational experts (occupational / employment)
- Medical professionals and doctors
We need to understand exactly what expenses and damages have been incurred due to the negligence of others. Attorneys who do not regularly practice injury and accident law often times do not understand the importance of using and investing in outside professionals to maximize the FULL and TRUE value of an accident or injury case.
What is my lawsuit worth?
This is by far the most common question we hear from our clients. However, it is also the most difficult to answer. First we must have ALL the facts and information for your case in order to understand a fair value for either settlement or trial of your accident or injury case.
The first factor, liability, is fairly simple to understand. Were you caused harm due to others negligence intentionally or unintentionally?
Many times, the liability of the defendant will not be clear-cut. The ultimate question on liability is “What are the odds I can prove that the other person is at fault?” It is not always what you know, it is what you can prove.
Lawsuit-Related Medical Expenses
One way to measure how badly you are hurt is to calculate your past and expected future medical expenses. Generally speaking, the greater these expenses, the more your case is worth.
These damages are self-explanatory, but not nearly as simple to calculate as you might think. What if the lasting result of your accident or injury will no longer allow you to work in the same job or capacity as you did before you were hurt or injured? There are several factors that go into these calculations and understanding them can get quite complex.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are commonly referred to as “non-economic” damages. Unlike economic damages such as lost wages and medical bills, it is impossible to produce documentation to prove their value. These types of damages are left to the jury to decide. Often times the jury will use a multiple of your economic damages to come up with a number for your non-economic damages. This could be one times to 20 times your economic damages as an example. Without understanding the full extent of your accident and injuries, and just how traumatic they were it is very hard to calculate an exact number.
Once we have determined liability, now we need to be able to collect compensation for damages. However, we have all heard the saying, “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” meaning if there is nothing there to get, you can’t get it. The amount of money you can recover may be limited by the amount of insurance the defendant has.
How much money is my lawsuit worth? It depends on the factors listed above. Once we understand all the facts and information of your case we will be able to tell you a rough estimate.
What should you do / what should you not do if you are involved in an accident or injury?
If you are injured, report your injury if necessary and seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to report the accident, either to the police in transportation liability cases or to your employer for accidents that happen at the job site.
Do not make any statements regarding your case to anyone without a qualified attorney present who represents your interests. You are not obligated to provide information or make statements to another party or their insurance provider. You should be represented by an attorney when making any statements to your own insurance company.
Do not sign any agreements or settlements without first consulting an attorney. Signing an agreement or settlement may seriously affect your rights and ability to file a suit to recover for your complete loss or damages in the future.
Time is a critical factor in personal injury cases, so contact an attorney at the earliest convenience. In some cases, the statute of limitations may require you to file a claim within one or two years following the accident or your claim will be barred and you will not be entitled to compensation.
Preserving evidence from the accident scene can substantially affect your ability to recover damages for your injuries, especially in transportation and premises liability cases. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible in all cases, so that your attorney can begin to build the record, document evidence, and access material information for your case.
Personal injury cases are often very complex legal matters, and insurance companies are represented by skillful defense attorneys. Do not attempt to navigate the legal process on your own. Seek an experienced, competent, and qualified attorney to assist you.
Why hire a personal injury attorney?
People hire attorneys for the same reasons that they hire surgeons: it takes specific knowledge, experience, and skill to successfully perform a surgery. Similarly, a personal injury attorney has the knowledge, experience, and skill to win and maximize the value of the lawsuit. Lawyers, like doctors, undertake a rigorous course of study to understand the basics; however, the educational process does not stop after graduation. The law is continuously changing and ever-evolving. A lawyer must continue to research, attend seminars, and be involved in professional associations to stay ahead of the changes and developments in the law.
Filing a lawsuit, especially a personal injury lawsuit, is a very complex and time-consuming task. It involves making claims against all the appropriate defendants; building the case by collecting medical records and witness statements, possibly hiring experts, and gathering other legal evidence.
Filing a lawsuit requires knowledge of several different areas of the law, including personal injury, the rules of evidence, and state and local procedural rules. A person must know how to file a lawsuit, where to file it, who must be served, what must be contained in the lawsuit, and when the deadline for filing a lawsuit is. These are not easy questions, and any mistakes could be detrimental to your case.
Not only does a lawyer have superior knowledge of the law, but attorneys have experience in negotiating with the insurance companies to maximize the value of your case. Therefore, what you are getting is not just superior legal knowledge, but superior negotiating experience, which can prove equally valuable.
How much do you charge for a personal injury case?
Personal injury fees are based on a contingency fee and not an hourly rate. This means that the attorney does not get paid unless the client wins at trial or the case is settled. The standard fee is one-third or 33.3% plus litigation costs. This will never be higher; however, depending on the case, it could be lower.
What are the costs of filing a lawsuit?
Because a personal injury case is charged based on a contingency, the client does not pay a penny for the costs of filing and maintaining a lawsuit unless the client wins. Therefore, the entire risk is on the attorney, not the client.
There are a number of costs in building a case, filing a lawsuit, and preparing for trial. Typical examples of costs are the filing fees required by the court, investigative fees, ordering medical records, and expenses for depositions, including payment of the hourly rate for expert witnesses, if an expert witness is involved. The more complex the case, the higher the costs are for filing and maintaining the lawsuit.
What happens during a personal injury lawsuit?
Normally, the case starts with an initial investigation to gather the basic facts of the case. Then, the attorney will work with the client to determine the best course of action and to obtain the best result for the client. Usually, this involves making an initial demand settlement on the defendant, and if that is rejected, then the attorney will file a complaint to start the litigation process. The majority of cases are settled outside of court. Therefore, there is very little time invested on the part of the client, which is another benefit to hiring an attorney.
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in similar circumstances.
How is negligence determined?
Negligence is made up of four elements. In order to win a lawsuit for negligence, the client must prove all four elements. The elements are:
- The party had a duty of care towards the client;
- The other party breached that duty of care;
- The breach was the actual and proximate cause of the client’s injuries;
- The injury caused the client some amount of damages, including physical injury, damage to property, lost wages, or any combination of the three.
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is compensation for the physical and emotional pain that is related to an injury caused by another person’s negligence. This is in addition to medical bills and lost wages. This is probably the single most difficult aspect on which to place a value because there is no scientific formula to use. It is simply what the jury subjectively believes a client is entitled to.
What is the statute of limitation for a personal injury case?
Statute of limitations is the time in which a lawsuit must be filed by the client or the client forfeits the ability to bring a suit for damages. The length of time the client has depends on how the client was injured; however, it is usually two years from the date of the accident. In certain situations, however, the statute of limitations may be less than a year, for example, in transportation liability cases. Therefore, it is important to move quickly in filing your case and to consult with a competent attorney at the earliest possible convenience.
Who is responsible for paying for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits?
Employers are required by Illinois law to pay for workers compensation benefits. They typically pay directly into the state fund, through private insurance, or by completely covering the costs themselves. In some states, employees and employers may share in the costs.
However, in Illinois, no part of the workers’ premium or benefit can be charged back to the worker. If you have any questions about who will pay benefits, there should be a notice at your place of employment detailing this information, but you can also check the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) website at http://www.iwcc.il.gov/.
If you are denied benefits, you and your attorney should directly seek an explanation from your employer. Time is of the essence- delays in responding can lengthen the time it will take to receive support. After continued denial, you need to file a claim and request a hearing with the IWCC.
What/Who is covered under the workers’ compensation laws of Illinois?
Generally, employees hired, employed, or injured in Illinois are covered by the Workers Compensation Act from the moment they begin working. Most injuries, illnesses and diseases that are caused by the work environment are covered under workers’ compensation. A worker need not even sustain a specific injury to collect benefits, because the collective effects of working in certain situations product injury but do not arise from any particular event. In addition, even injuries that were not obtained at work, yet are aggravated on the job, may be covered under workers’ compensation.
What should I do to apply for workers’ compensation benefits if I have been injured while working at a job or factory in Illinois?
You need to let your employer know you were injured as soon as possible. Employers are required to keep records and report accidents and injuries in the workplace that last more than 3 workdays (on “Employer’s First Report of Injury,” known as Form 45). However, you do not need to give a recorded statement, and you should be careful about signing any documents without consulting an attorney first. Simply inform them of the nature, time, and date of the incident through oral or written communications no later than 45 days after the accident.
After receiving notice, the employer must provide all necessary care, inform the insurance carrier and the IWCC, begin payments for temporary total disability (TTD) or provide an explanation as to why benefits are being denied. Workers’ compensation is insurance, and the employer and insurance company often are looking out for their own best interests, not yours. Remember, they are precluded by law from harassing you as you exercise your right to workers’ compensation. Having an attorney on your side that is experienced with workers’ compensation laws can ensure that you get all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Can I choose my own doctor to treat my work-related injury under IL work comp. law?
Yes, you can choose to see whatever doctor you prefer for treatment although there are some restrictions under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.. Generally speaking, you may see one doctor of your choosing, a second opinion doctor, and any physicians or treaters either of those two doctors refer you to for additional care and treatment. Consult with an attorney to learn about any restrictions that may apply to your situation. However, the employer has the right to ask for an independent medical evaluation to confirm your injury or illness. They must pay for the exam and may be trying to use this information as a way to deny the claim.
When should an employee seek the help of an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney?
As soon as they are injured. Keep in mind that neither the employer nor the insurance company is required to inform you of all your rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Having an attorney that will fight to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to under the law can help ensure that you are not taken advantage of. Also, the process is complicated: several copies of an application and proof of service must be given to the IWCC, then 1-3 months later the claim is put before an arbitrator where either party can request a jury trial. So, it is best to begin as soon as possible, and a competent attorney can help you through this cumbersome system. Note, one can always go directly to any employer for benefits, but only the IWCC can force an employer to pay out your claims.
I was hurt over a year ago at work but never filed a claim. Is it too late to receive Illinois Workers Compensation benefits?
No, in most cases you have three years in Illinois to file a claim. However there are certain restrictions, so consulting an attorney is a good idea. Specifically, lawsuits must begin three (3) years after the accident or two (2) years after you last received compensation benefits-whichever is later. Yet, if your injury becomes repetitive in nature, the statute of limitations may differ, so it is important to speak with an attorney to clarify how much time you have to bring an action. It is also important to note that there are certain notice requirements applicable to worker’s compensation cases and those must have been complied with as well. In most instances, notice of your accident and/or injury must be provided to your employer within 45 days of when it occurred. The bottom line, you should ALWAYS inform your employer of an injury that occurred, no matter how small you may feel it is.
How much will it cost me to use an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer to handle my claim?
Our experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys do not charge for our initial consultation, so it is always free to come discuss your case. In addition, we work on a contingency fee so we will not ask for payment up front. We will only charge a fee once we have made a financial recovery for you. The Illinois Legislature has set attorneys’ fees for workers compensation cases at 20% for most situations. If there is a separate case against a third-party, the case is handled separately, and the separate fee agreement will need to be agreed upon. Fees are clearly laid out in the representation agreement signed by all clients, and submitted for the approval of the IWCC.
What kind of benefits can I get when I file an Illinois workers’ compensation claim?
Workers can receive pay for the time that they miss from work, which is called Temporary Total Disability (TTD), provided the worker obtains a doctor’s consent. This is based on a percentage of their average weekly earnings and is generally 2/3 of that amount. In addition, medical care is 100% covered as long as it considered reasonable and necessary, including the following medical services: emergency rooms, ambulances, hospitals, doctors, and even rehabilitation training. Permanent partial or total disability, as well as disfigurement, that resulted from a work-related injury or illness may be compensated with long-term payments or a one time lump-sum. In the case of a work-related death, the family of the deceased worker is entitled to benefits as well.
What if I was at fault for my work-related injury? Can I still get workers’ compensation benefits?
Yes. Illinois Workers’ Compensation covers almost all employees or workers by law in the state of Illinois, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. Generally in Illinois, you can still recover even if you were at fault, after deducting the percentage of your fault from the award. Consult an attorney if you have been injured on the job to find out exactly what benefits you are entitled to by law within the specific parameters of workers’ compensation.
I have an open workers’ compensation claim that I have received a settlement offer for. What happens if I settle the claim?
In many cases, it will mean that you have no future right to any additional claims. Before accepting or signing anything, consult an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure the settlement is in your best interest.
I heard that some employees that are injured have filed a third party claim. What is that?
If an employee is injured on the job, they will almost always be automatically eligible for workers’ compensation, regardless of who caused the injury. However, in addition, if the injury was caused by a third party, meaning someone who does not work for the same employer, the injured worker may also be able to file a claim against the third party for their injury. Consult your Illinois work accident attorney if you think you may have a third party claim.
Can I be fired for opening a workers’ compensation claim?
Workers are protected by the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act from retaliation from employers for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you are fired for filing a claim, you may have grounds for a legal suit against your employer. See the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act for more information. 820 ILCS 305 §4h.
Do you need help with an Illinois workers compensation case?
You’ve come to the right place. Our team of Illinois workers compensation lawyers appreciates the impact an injury can have on the injured worker and their family. We know the games insurance companies will play with the hopes of trying to ‘delay’ and ‘deny’ your case.
The truth is many insurance carriers take advantage of the fact that an injured worker may not be fully aware of the intricacies of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. Unfortunately, as an injured worker without an attorney, you are held to the same standard as though you are represented.
While some workers may elect to pursue their workers compensation case on their own, many of our clients only complaint was that they did not hire us earlier. Once we are retained in a workers compensation case, all communication goes through our office, we order all medical records, all motions and calls are handled by our staff– you get to focus on what you need to be doing– getting the medical attention that you need for your injury.
In circumstances where a third-party may be responsible for an injury, we will take responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of the case as well to ensure your legal rights are complied with. Put another way, we will take care of what needs to be done on your cases so the rights of you and your family are satisfied to the fullest extent of the law.