Do I Have an Illinois Injury Claim?
Do I Have an Illinois Injury Claim?
While legal doctrine and state statutes can be confusing, whether or not you have a claim generally depends on one specific question: were you injured because someone else was negligent? If so, legally speaking you have to prove the five elements of negligence:
- Duty of care — You first need to show that the liable party had a responsibility to care for your safety. In some cases this is automatic, as motorists all owe everyone on the Illinois roads a duty of care, or dog owners owe it to others not to let their dog injure anyone. In other cases a special relationship must be established, such as a doctor-patient relationship or a vendor-patron relationship.
- Breach of duty — Did the liable party fail in that duty? Did a driver hit you while they were looking at their phone? Did a doctor not order the appropriate tests? Did a product manufacturer fail to recall a product they knew was dangerous?
- Cause-in-fact — You must show how the incident caused your injuries. For example, you sustained a whiplash injury after being rear ended, or were burned by a defective product when it overheated.
- Proximate cause — This determines liability. If you were rear ended, it is usually because another driver was negligent. But if the brakes were faulty, a manufacturer or mechanic may be the one who is ultimately liable.
- Damages — Lastly, you need to show that you sustained some form of financial loss as a direct result of your injuries. In personal injury cases, this is usually medical expenses and lost wages. If you keep solid records of your medical expenses, this last part will be fairly easy to prove with the help of an attorney. Once we establish financial losses, we can also seek compensation for pain and suffering damages.
The only way to know for certain if you have an injury claim is to speak to an attorney who has handled your type of claim in Illinois before. You can speak to an injury lawyer in Chicago, Illinois now at (314) 500-HURT.
Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
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The personal injury claim process can be daunting and confusing for those who do not go through it every day like our personal injury lawyers. Below, we have put together a step-by-step guide to the injury claim process, from your injury to securing a full financial recovery.
Personal injury Claim Process in Illinois
Personal injury Claim Process in Illinois
Following any injury due to somebody else's negligence, these are the steps you will follow and where your case will go once you contact a lawyer:
1. Get Medical Attention
While this is obviously necessary to ensure you recover safely, it also has implications for how successful your claim will be. If you wait too long to get medical treatment, the insurance adjuster is likely to tell you that your injuries must have come from something besides the accident you are making a claim for. It is important to document all of your medical bills and keep your medical records organized.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to connect you with qualified healthcare professionals who can help get you back to Maximum Medical Improvement.
2. Consult With an Injury Lawyer
If you are prompt in seeking medical care and your injuries are not severe, you may be able to secure a fair settlement without the help of an attorney. However, most of the time you will need an attorney to get you the full compensation you truly deserve. Finding the right personal injury lawyer for you can be difficult, so it is a good idea to talk to several before making a decisions.
A good personal injury lawyer will be honest with you about how much compensation you may be able to recover, and whether or not it is in your best interest to hire them. The small claims court limit is $10,000 in Illinois. If your damages exceed those limits, it is almost always a good idea to hire an injury lawyer in Illinois.
3. Investigation and Documentation
Your personal injury lawyer will look over your medical records, evidence from the site of the accident and speak to eyewitnesses, expert witnesses to determine who is liable for your injuries. In some cases, such as if a defective car part caused your injuries, the liable party may not be who you initially think. In other cases, there may be more than one liable party, or there may be additional insurance coverage your injury lawyer can find if your damages exceed the policy limits.
During this phase, you should keep detailed records of how your injuries are affecting you. In addition to your medical bills, keep records of any over-the-counter medications or out-of-pocket expenses, the lost wages you have incurred from time off work. You can also keep a journal detailing how your injuries affect you physically and emotionally every day.
4. Settlement Demand and Negotiations
Once your injury lawyer has calculated your total economic damages and non-economic damages, they will send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company. In some cases, the insurance company may accept the demand once they are aware that you have hired an injury lawyer. But most of the time, their offer will be low and your lawyer will have to negotiate with them to get you the amount you really deserve.
In most personal injury cases, you and your lawyer will be dealing with the liable party's insurance company. If there is no insurance company available, your lawyer will file a personal injury complaint in civil court, and the court will then serve the defendant with the complaint. The defendant usually has one or two months to hire an attorney and respond.
If you and the insurance company cannot agree on a fair settlement negotiated by your injury lawyer, both parties may choose or be required to go to mediation. In mediation, a neutral trier of fact will hear arguments from both sides and try to break the stalemate.
6. File a Lawsuit
If, after mediation, the insurance company will still not give you a fair settlement offer, your injury lawyer will then file a lawsuit on your behalf. This begins the process of moving toward a jury trial. Often, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to encourage the other side to be fair. A judge will set a deadline for each stage of the trial. The first stage is filing your complaint, the document that details your allegations against the defendant, after which the liable party will have 30 days to file an answer.
Your case will then go to the "discovery phase," wherein both sides will gather testimony and more evidence, and request documentation from the other side as well as from third parties. You and the defendant will both take depositions and be questioned by both lawyers under oath. This is how each side develops its argument for trial.
8. The Trial
If your claim still has not been settled, your lawyer will represent you in front of a judge and jury of your peers. A trial has six steps:
- Voir dire, or jury selection
- Opening statements
- Testimony and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury instruction
- Jury deliberation and verdict
In a jury trial, the jury will follow the judge's instructions to determine a) if the other party is liable for your injuries, and b) the total extent of your damages in a dollar amount.
The majority of Illinois injury cases do not reach trial. However, if your case does go to trial, your entire recovery is on the line and it is paramount that you have a lawyer and accompanying legal team on your side who is experienced in representing clients in trial and winning excellent verdicts. The Illinois attorneys of Burger Law have decades of experience trying cases and a record of $200 million recovered for our clients, which includes trial verdicts.
Even if a trial date is scheduled, sometimes a skilled Chicago injury lawyer can reach a great settlement for you weeks or even days before the trial takes place. The injury lawyers of Burger Law have done this many times. Call us at (314) 500-HURT to learn more.
What Cases Do Your Injury Lawyers in Illinois Commonly Take?
What Cases Do Your Injury Lawyers in Illinois Commonly Take?
When you choose a personal injury lawyer who is experienced, knows the law and fights on your behalf, you benefit from our team's wealth of exceptional experience with every facet of personal injury law because we actively practice every area of personal injury law. We realize that case types often overlap, and having experience with each type of claim gives our team the perfect preparation to successfully fight for our clients' rights and recoveries. Listed below are overviews of the case types we most commonly pursue, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall cases, dog bites, product liability, and more:
- Car Accident Claims - Car Accidents are typically caused by negligent actions. Our car accident lawyers in Chicago and Illinois use their knowledge of state laws and scientific facts to take on each car accident claim, and use different methods to gather evidence depending upon the type of claim
- Truck Accident Claims - Commercial Trucks can weigh anywhere from 30,000lbs to 80,000lbs. A car weighs 5,000 pounds. This amounts to much more force in truck accidents. When a trucking vehicle or a commercial vehicle collides with a small sedan, these collisions cause serious injuries.
- Bus Accident Claims - Like truck accidents, the size and limited safety features of some buses can cause serious injuries to multiple people. Whether it is a greyhound, school bus, tour bus or any other type of bus, the claims are often complicated as they involve multiple parties with expensive defense teams, making an experienced and aggressive attorney essential to your claim.
- Motorcycle Accident and Bicycle Accident Claims - While it is natural to enjoy the freedom that riding a bike offers, far too many people do not pay attention to bikers on the road. Some passenger car drivers are even actively hostel. Because people on motorcycles and bicycles are vulnerable compared to their enclosed vehicle counterparts, bike injuries can often be severe.
- Medical Malpractice Claims - Medical Malpractice can happen when a doctor, healthcare professional, hospital, or other health service center acts in a negligent way or neglects to provide a standard of reasonable care, and this action leads to the patient being injured. This can happen in the form of misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose, error in treatments, errors in aftercare or hospital system failures.
- Wrongful Death Claims - Wrongful Death claims are never easy. No one should ever lose a loved one because of an accident that is caused by another’s negligence. There is always a trail of facts or reports that show negligence on the part of the business or individual who is responsible for your loved one’s death. While money can never replace a loved one, we will fight for your family’s rights and make sure you receive compensation for the loss of their income, funeral and hospital expenses and the loss of any guidance, support and comfort you received from them.
- Dog Bite Claims - Dogs can be great additions to families, but some dogs are vicious and others instinctually bite in certain situations. Because of that, dog owners have a duty to be in control of their dogs at all times. When they fail in that duty and their dog bites you, they owe you compensation for your injuries.
- Product Liability Claims - Everyone involved in the chain of distribution has a responsibility to make reasonably safe products and include sufficient warning. If a defective product injures you or a loved one, you have the right to sue a designer, manufacturer and/or vendor for compensation.
- Slip and Fall Claims - The laws governing premises liability are in place to require people who control a property to either fix or warn against dangerous conditions they knew or should have known about. If you fall and become injured because a property owner or manager did not keep their property safe, you can make a claim against them for your damages.
- Construction Accident Claims - Construction accidents often fall under workers' compensation and employer negligence. However, you may also be able to make a third-party liability claim, and may be able to sue the construction company if you are a civilian injured at a construction site.
Gary Burger and the experienced and aggressive personal injury attorneys at Burger Law in Chicago take every injury claim seriously. You do not owe us anything until we win your claim. Our Illinois injury lawyers are specialized in all areas of injury cases. We handle all aspects of your case from start to finish so that you can focus on your recovery. We know how to fight against resistant insurance companies and defendants who refuse to take accountability for the harm they have caused by breaking safety rules. Our firm has the expertise and winning track record necessary to provide the best possible legal representation in your personal injury case or any other type of accident case.
Personal injury cases arise from preventable injuries, which adds a layer of indignation or frustration for many. You would not be in this situation today had it not been for another person's carelessness or willfully harmful behavior. To get the closure and compensation you deserve, you need a competent and reputable personal injury lawyer in Chicago to represent your interests. As Chicago personal injury lawyers, we are here to lend our knowledge and talents toward getting you a great recovery and making you whole after being injured by someone else.
In our nearly thirty years as a leading personal injury law firm in Chicago, Burger Law has seen and heard legitimate personal injury claims of all kinds throughout the state of Illinois. Through our tenacity and expertise, the Chicago personal injury lawyers of Burger Law have successfully represented families and individuals in Chicago and throughout Illinois in personal injury claims and lawsuits including auto accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, dog bites, defective products and more. Whatever type of injury case you have, call (314) 500-HURT to consult an Illinois injury lawyer at Buger Law for free. We will discuss your case, share our knowledge and determine how we can best help you.