Every personal injury claim starts with someone getting hurt. When you’re injured in a situation you believe was someone else’s fault, talk with an Illinois personal injury lawyer. If another individual acted carelessly, recklessly, or maliciously, then you likely have a legal claim against them. Talking with a lawyer is the best way to find out more about your rights and legal options.
It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Even if you choose not to go to the emergency room, see your general practitioner or a physician at a clinic right away for a full exam.
This is how you start to document your injuries. It’s also important to follow your doctor’s orders to recover as much as you can as soon as you can. If you do anything that might delay your recovery or make your injuries worse, an insurer will use this against you.
You have to notify your insurer or the other party’s insurance provider as soon as possible. Insurance companies require notification within a reasonable period. If you wait too long, it might try to deny your claim. But, when you tell your insurer about the accident, you don’t have to give a statement or answer questions right away.
We recommend you stick to the basic facts and politely decline to answer any questions. It’s also best to consult an attorney before talking with an insurer more to avoid saying something it can use against you.
Your situation might be so straight forward that you don’t need a lawyer. But that’s rare if you sustained serious injuries and property damage. It’s important to remember the insurance company isn’t really on your side.
An insurer is focused on the minimum action they have to take under the policy and the law. It hopes to pay out as little as possible on a claim. Having an attorney fight for you can lead to a better settlement offer.
We can’t stress enough the importance of having an attorney independently investigate the cause of the accident. The insurance company will investigate. But you shouldn’t rely on its findings.
Your lawyer might uncover different evidence, view the evidence in a different light, or draw different conclusions. By having an experienced lawyer find and review the evidence, you have the best chance of identifying who is at fault and building a strong case against them.
Some personal injury claims are complicated. There can be two or more people who are at fault for the accident. Another reason to have a lawyer is they’ll look for all potentially liable parties.
They’ll look for whether the at-fault party was working at the time or was in someone else’s vehicle. They’ll look for any sign that another party was negligent or is now vicariously liable. A person or business you didn’t know about might be partly to blame for your injuries.
How much is your case worth? That’s a question best answered by a lawyer. Your economic damages are straightforward. Your lawyer will add up all of your medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. If your injuries affect your future, your lawyer will add up future medical costs and other expenses too.
Your non-economic damages are less precise. Getting the most for your pain and suffering requires you to be able to show a jury how badly you’ve been hurt and how much it’s impacted your life. A lawyer helps you create this evidence by advising you to keep a daily journal or producing a Day in the Life video.
Your claim begins in earnest once your attorney sends the potentially liable parties a demand letter. This is a brief but carefully craft letter telling the recipient they’re responsible for your injuries. In the letter, your lawyer will demand a certain amount of compensation based on their damages calculations.
Sometimes, a demand letter results in immediate insurance settlement negotiations. But more likely than not, you won’t get the response you’re hoping for. That’s why the next step is for your lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Most personal injury cases are settled before trial. You still want to file a lawsuit, though. By filing, you show the defendants and their insurers that you’re willing to fight to get the best resolution in your case. You won’t settle quickly for a low offer. Litigation also gives you the benefit of using discovery to learn more about your claim.
Discovery is the longest phase of litigation. Through depositions (out-of-court interviews), interrogatories (questions), demands to produce documents, and requests for admissions (true or false statements), your lawyer gathers more information about your case.
This phase is particularly important if a business is involved in your case. We’ll want to see a lot of business and employment records.
After discovery, your lawyer or the other party might request mediation. This is an out-of-court process during which both sides can negotiate a fair resolution. We’ll often reach settlement agreements for our clients at this time. Insurers are incentivized to settle for a fair amount instead of spending more time and money on a contentious trial.
But if we can’t get the defendants and their insurers to agree to a fair amount, then we’ll prepare for trial. Our team at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., is made up of litigators. We settle a lot of cases, but we aren’t afraid to go to court.
If we take your case to trial and the jury decides in the defendant’s favor, we’ll immediately review your case for a reason to appeal. You can’t appeal a verdict because you don’t like it, or you think it’s unfair. Instead, there has to be something in the trial record that suggests a mistake was made.
Even if we didn’t represent you in your original personal injury case, we can review the trial records and advise you on moving forward with an appeal.
A lot of thought and preparation goes into filing a lawsuit. One factor you need to consider is where to file based on the Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure. If you were in a car crash in Chicago, and both you and the other driver are from the city, then you’ll file in Cook County. But a lot of accidents aren’t so simple.
The defendants in your case might be from other states, or your accident might’ve happened outside your home state. It’s important to work with a lawyer to make sure you file in the right place the first time. Otherwise, the court will dismiss the case. You’ll have to start over.
A court has to have personal and subject matter jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction means the court has jurisdiction over an individual or business. This is based on someone living, working in, or having other contacts with the state.
The court has to be allowed to hear your type of claim. Most courts only decide certain types of cases, like criminal vs. civil courts or family vs. small claims courts. A court has subject matter jurisdiction when it can hear personal injury cases.
Talk with an experienced attorney about when a claim can be taken to federal court. Most personal injury cases go through a state court system. But sometimes it’s appropriate to file in federal court. But the federal court has to have jurisdiction. It might gain jurisdiction through “diversity.”
Diversity jurisdiction is when the defendant resides in a different state than you. For example, if you were hurt in a truck accident crash in Naperville, but the truck driver lives and works out of Georgia, then there’s diversity among the parties.
It’s not enough to decide whether to sue in state vs. federal court and in which state. You have to get more specific and choose the right venue, which is the specific location where you’ll file. Just because Illinois has jurisdiction over your case doesn’t mean you can file in any county. Usually, you’ll file in the county where you or the defendant live or where the accident happened.
If you’re ready to learn more about pursuing a personal injury claim or filing a lawsuit in Illinois, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.
We have years of experience handling personal injury cases arising from all types of accidents, including car crashes, dangerous products, dangerous properties, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect and abuse, and other auto accidents.