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Find the Right Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer

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Personal Injury
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Hiring an Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in an car or truck accident, involved in a workplace injury, a victim of medical malpractice or are just looking for legal advice about your situation, we recommend that you speak with a lawyer. An experienced family attorney can help you understand the important legal concepts and ramifications surrounding your issue, and give you advice about a recommended course of action. The process of finding and working with the right lawyer can sometimes seem to be uncertain, but a short meeting with an attorney can often set your mind at ease and guide you towards a positive resolution.

Before you begin, there are some key issues you may want to consider as you start your search for an attorney. First, it is to your benefit to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your legal issue arises. If you wait to contact attorney, you could miss important deadlines that can affect your case or proceedings. Next, understand why you want to meet with a lawyer. Layout out the goals you hope to accomplish with them and understand the different billing methods that attorneys use. And finally, it is important to establish an open line of communication with your attorney as go through your legal process so that you are aware of unforeseen issues or complexities that may arise.

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Information About Personal Injury Law in Illinois

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Personal Injury Law

No matter how careful you are, sometimes you can't avoid being injured. In Illinois, if you're in an accident that has resulted in a personal injury, you are entitled to sue the person or people responsible. This page will help you determine how best to proceed and whether you have a strong case for trial. As always, you should speak with an Illinois personal injury attorney before proceeding very far into the process. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be a very painful process, but a lawyer who specializes in Illinois personal injury law can help you get the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations restricts the amount of time you have to file a claim for personal injury. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 2 years. Because this is one of the shorter statutes of limitations when compared with other states, it is even more important that you act quickly once you discover you have been injured. And as always, you should consult with a personal injury attorney to make sure your questions are answered and that you get appropriately compensated in the quickest time.

Exceptions to this Rule

  • Children: For medical malpractice, minors have 8 years to file a claim but it must be before the 22nd birthday. For all other types of suits, the statute of limitations begins on the minor's 18th birthday.
  • Modified Discovery: The statute of limitations applies only after you knew or should have known an injury was caused. In Illinois the discovery rule is modified to have upper limits that are different depending on the type of injury. For product liability, the limit is 8 years; medical malpractice, 4 years; legal malpractice, 6 years.
  • Disabilities: 2 years starting from when the disability is removed (this includes imprisonment).
  • State/Government: Against municipalities, the statute of limitations is 1 year. For other cases involving the state, it depends on the circumstance but often the state is immune from legal claims.

First Steps to Filing a Claim:

There are four steps you need to take if you think you have a viable personal injury claim.

  1. Make sure you are injured. Consult a medical doctor to get an expert opinion of the injury and its cause.
  2. Talk to a legal professional. You should talk to a legal professional as soon as you can to find out if you have a case and the right steps to take, especially because of the statute of limitations and other restrictions. Oftentimes they will not charge for a consultation.
  3. Document the circumstances. This depends on the type of injury, but because circumstances change quickly (whereas the law often doesn't), you should always try to document the circumstances of the injury with photographs, videotape, testimony of witnesses, etc.
  4. Notify the defendant. Consult with a legal professional to find out if this is necessary and how soon, but the law sometimes requires that you notify the defendant that you are filing a claim within a certain time period, especially if it is against a government entity. Sometimes this may be as short as within 30 days.

 

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Types of Liability

  • Intentional: Claiming this type of accident means claiming that the defendant intentionally meant to harm.
  • Negligence: Claiming this type of accident means claiming that the defendant was careless or negligent and this negligence caused the accident.
  • Strict Liability: Strict liability is a rule that allows a claim to be filed in cases where it doesn't matter if the defendant was negligent at all. As long as you are injured and the cause of the injury was the defendant, you are able to claim damages. This is generally restricted to special circumstances such as product liability or very dangerous activities, but in some cases also includes injuries due to animals.

Proving Liability

  • Intentional: Proving intentional liability means proving that the defendant intentionally caused the injury.
  • Negligence: Proving negligence involves four things:
  • Duty: The defendant had a duty to take measures to prevent injury.
  • Breach: The defendant did not perform this duty.
  • Proximate Cause: As a result of this breach, you were injured.
  • Injury: You actually were injured and suffered damages as a result.
  • Strict Liability: Proving this means simply proving you were injured due to the defendant.

Personal injury claims are different from criminal cases. "Innocent unless proven guilty" does not apply; rather, you must show a "preponderance of evidence"—it is more likely you are right than the defendant. Once this is done what remains is to calculate the actual amount of the award.

Calculating the Award

The factors that go into determining this figure varies on a case by case basis, but they commonly include things like lost wages, medical expenses, compensations for physical or psychological pain/suffering and loss of normal life. There are also often punitive damages assessed that are meant to be a penalty for and to prevent reckless/dangerous behavior that can cause future harm. There is no cap in Illinois for this type of damage.

Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that comparative negligence applies: you are only awarded a percentage of the calculated total damages based on how much at fault you and the defendant are. For example, if you were 30% responsible for the accident, then you only recover 70% of the calculated total in damages. Since it applies modified comparative negligence, you only recover damages if you are 50% responsible for the accident or less. If you are more than 50% responsible for the accident, you cannot recover anything.

Multiple Defendants

Illinois is a "joint and several" liability state, meaning that if there are multiple defendants, they are all responsible for up to the entire portion of the damages. This only applies if one of the defendants is unable to pay; otherwise, they are severally liable and only responsible for a proportion of the damages depending on how responsible for the accident they were. There is an exception in Illinois regarding non-medical damages: if a defendant is found responsible for less than 25% of the accident, then he/she is only liable for that proportion of non-medical damages. He/she is still jointly liable for medical expenses.

Indirect (vicarious) liability

Sometimes an individual can be indirectly liable for an injury. This happens when one person's negligence causes another's actions to injure someone. Notably, this is true with employers and their employees, and with those who sell alcohol to minors and the injuries that minor causes while intoxicated.

Hiring an Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer

You should contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer immediately to understand your rights and to determine whether you have a viable case. An good lawyer will be able to inform you whether you have a case worth pursuing and to start negotiating your behalf. If they take the case, they will be able to help you get compensated for your past, present and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and disability.

Choosing the Right Lawyer

When choosing a personal injury lawyer, factors to consider are experience in the kind of case you have, the lawyer's fee arrangements, and whether you feel a personal connection with the lawyer. Typically, less experienced attorneys are more appropriate for smaller, more simple and less serious cases. However, there are many excellent attorneys who have only practiced for a few years and are capable of taking large and complex cases. The vast majority of lawyers take personal injury cases on contingency meaning they only collect if you collect. Typically, personal injury lawyers in Illinois will take between 30-50% of the total amount you are awarded in a settlement or judgment, depending on how much work they put into it and whether they have to take the case to trial.

How to Proceed

Sustaining an injury can have very serious ramifications to your life. If you have been injured as the result of someone else's actions and wish to protect your rights, it is prudent to speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney who will be able to to help obtain the compensation you deserve.

 

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