Questions Our Personal Injury Lawyers Answer
What if I miss time off of work, but I use my sick days, can I still recover for lost wages?
Yes, you can still recover your lost wages, even if you didn’t miss out on any money because you used sick or vacation time. Those sick and vacation days were earned by you, and you still deserve compensation. It is irrelevant and inadmissible under the collateral source rule in Illinois to admit into evidence the fact that you used sick, personal or vacation days when you were off work due to an injury.
What are my legal rights if I was injured in an accident or because of someone else’s actions?
You have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against anyone who hurt you intentionally or because of negligence. However, you only have a limited period of time in which to pursue a claim.
Illinois law requires most injury claims to be filed within two years from the time the incident occurred. You must also prove the required elements of an injury case, including that the defendant was unreasonably careless, broke safety rules or otherwise behaved wrongfully.
If you prove your case, you have the right to be compensated for economic and non-economic damages resulting from your injury.
See our page on How Much is My Case Worth? to learn more about the compensation you can expect in an injury case.
What does it mean to file a personal injury claim?
Filing a personal injury claim means filing a lawsuit, or complaint, that is aimed at securing full and fair compensation for your losses caused by another’s misconduct.
Treating certain injuries such as brain damage or a spinal cord injury can cost millions of dollars. Your quality of your life can also change in many ways. Filing a personal injury lawsuit ensures that the party (or parties) responsible for your injury compensate you fully for all of your costs and losses.
You must comply with all requirements set forth in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure to file a personal injury claim. For instance, you must file the lawsuit in a court where you or the defendant live or where the injury happened.
After a lawsuit is filed, your case may enter into settlement negotiations with the defendant and/or the defendant’s insurance company, or it may go to trial before a jury.
How do I prove negligence in a personal injury case?
Proving negligence essentially involves establishing how a person’s careless conduct caused you to suffer injuries. Different standards will apply in different situations.
Typically, the behavior of a defendant is compared with what an average hypothetical reasonable person would have done in the same situation. For example: Would a reasonable person send a text message while driving a car?
In specific types of personal injury claims, such as medical malpractice cases, there is a different standard used to judge negligence. The doctor’s behavior is compared not just to that of a hypothetical reasonable person but to that of a reasonable physician with a similar background.
If an action or omission is clearly unreasonable and careless, it is not necessary to specifically prove negligence. The negligence is self-evident.
How do I take legal action after I was injured?
You must file a claim with the appropriate court and state legal grounds for a lawsuit to make a claim after an injury. You have a limited period of time in which to take legal action and must comply with all court rules.
Under Illinois law, most claims for personal injury must be filed within two years of the time when the injury occurs. When filing a claim, you must provide information on the actions of the defendant and explain why you believe the defendant is liable. Your position must be supported with court rules, laws and information about the accident.
After your claim is filed, the defendant who has been charged with causing your injuries will be served with a notice of the pending lawsuit and given a chance to provide an answer to the court. If the defendant does not answer, a default judgment can be entered in your favor, which means you win your case automatically.
If the defendant answers, the case will proceed through the exchange of evidence (discovery) and through pre-trial motions (requests to the court to make certain rulings on issues in the case). The trial will then begin, and you must prove that the defendant caused your injuries in order for your legal action to be successful.
What are some things I need to do to protect my legal rights?
To protect your legal rights, you must document all injuries and losses. You must also gather evidence to prove that the defendant’s actions caused your harm.
Calling the police right after an accident and taking pictures at the scene are good steps to take to provide invaluable information on the cause of your injury. Detailed medical records and information on missed work are also important evidence.
Finally, hiring an attorney is one of the most important things to do to protect your rights. For instance, at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we provide free initial consultations. You can schedule one by simply calling us or contacting us online.
We use these consultations to learn more about the facts of your case and to help you understand your legal options. If we take on your case, we can then provide legal assistance that includes:
- Making sure your claim is filed on time.
- Protecting your rights when dealing with insurance companies.
- Fighting to seek the compensation you deserve.
With our legal skill, experience and resources, we believe we can play a major role in helping you and your family to recover from an accident and move on with your lives.
Most injury cases begin with settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial. At each stage, it helps to have someone with experience on your side.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we have years of experience with presenting injury claims to insurance companies and arguing cases before juries. We know what makes a case a strong one and how to build on those strengths.
Who can be held responsible for causing my injuries?
Anyone who owed you a legal duty and fell short of fulfilling that obligation can be held responsible for your resulting injuries.
- A driver can be held responsible for causing an accident because he or she was drunk or distracted while driving
- A manufacturer can be held responsible for producing a dangerous product
- A doctor is liable if the physician made a mistake no reasonable professional would have made, or medical malpractice.
If you are harmed by an individual who is working at the time, that person’s employer may also be held responsible for causing your injuries. Employers often have more money to compensate you for injuries, so if an employer can be held responsible for an injury, it is advisable to pursue this type of claim.
What if I was partly to blame for my own injuries?
In many cases, it is still possible to obtain compensation even if your own actions contributed to causing your accident. Do not give up on your case without seeking legal assistance.
Illinois follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. This means you may file a personal injury claim and obtain compensation as long as the defendant was 51 percent or more responsible for your injuries. Your compensation is reduced based on the percentage of fault attributed to you. For example:
- If you were 55 percent responsible for your accident, you may not recover compensation
- If you were 40 percent responsible and your accident caused $10,000 in damages, your compensation would be reduced by $4,000 (40 percent), while the defendant would pay the remaining $6,000
- If the defendant was 90 percent responsible for your injuries, and $10,000 in damages occurred, the defendant would pay $9,000 (90 percent).
Will my personal injury lawsuit settle, or do I have to go to court?
Many personal injury cases settle out of court. However, you should settle only if you are offered reasonable compensation for your injuries.
If you can demonstrate the other party was negligent, careless or irresponsible in a way that led to your injuries, the insurance company representing the responsible person/entity is likely to pursue settlement negotiations.
Insurers and defendants may prefer to settle if they believe you will win in court, and they wish to avoid the uncertainty of a jury trial.
The stronger your case, and the more evidence you have, the more likely it is you will be offered a reasonable settlement that provides coverage for the damages you suffered. An experienced attorney who represents clients in personal injury cases in Chicago can help to negotiate a settlement and can advise you on whether to accept a settlement offer. You can also get more information by visiting our page, What is a Settlement?
What kinds of compensation am I entitled to recover after I have been hurt?
In a personal injury case, you are entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. These damages may include:
- Past and future medical treatment costs arising from the injury
- Lost income/wages
- Pain and suffering compensation
- Emotional distress damages.
What should I expect if I file a personal injury claim?
If you file a personal injury claim, expect to become involved in settlement negotiations even as your case moves forward in court.
After your claim has been filed:
- The defendant will be notified (served)
- Pre-trial motions (requests to the court) will be filed
- Discovery will occur
- Witnesses will be interviewed and information exchanged to build a case
- You and the defendant will present evidence in trial (you have the burden of proving the defendant did something wrong or was careless in a way that caused your injuries)
- The jury will reach a verdict
- The jury will award appropriate compensation if the defendant was found responsible
- Your case may be appealed, or the defendant may pay the damages.
Negotiations for a settlement can continue until a verdict is announced in your case.
How can a lawyer help me if I am the victim of a personal injury?
A personal injury attorney can help you to comply with all court rules, preserve your case and maximize your compensation.
An attorney provides important advocacy from the beginning of the case to the end. Your lawyer will help to gather evidence, subpoena witnesses, negotiate a settlement or prove your case to a jury.
Pursuing a personal injury claim brings with it many legal challenges. You need to:
- Understand the evidence required for your specific claim and what you will need to prove in order to recover compensation.
- Know who to take legal against in the form of a lawsuit and when, where and how to file the lawsuit.
- Negotiate smartly and strategically with the insurance company or convince a jury of how badly you were harmed and your need for compensation.
- Comply with all court rules and complete all paperwork correctly.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our attorneys have been trained on how to handle personal injury cases and understand the ins-and-outs of the legal system. Through the years, we have been able to secure more than 225 verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more for our clients.
Contact us today to schedule a free review of your case.